The 240Hz TV isn’t the only thing coming to home cinema in 2009. Onboard Internet looks set to be the next big trend in flat screens with Toshiba and Samsung jumping onboard.Remember Intel’s Internet TV demo we raved about? Turns out, it wasn’t a passing fad.
While we were gearing up to hear Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic up the ante with 200+ Hz TVs here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (there’s already several 240Hz model being talked about), turns out the bigger story is the push to wack in Ethernet ports and chips that might have you reaching for the TV remote instead of the keyboard to go online.
And if you though the Blu-Ray vs HD DVD battle was a big deal, it seems the big players in HD TV think this new trend will be bigger, with Samsung’s Executive Vice President calling it the “future of TV”.
In the old TV world, we watched “passively” like couch potatoes. In the new world of TV, Samsung and Toshiba see us downloading moves, checking eBay, chatting to friends on instant messenger, all on the TV while our shows run in the background.
The two latest HD TV vendors showing Internet connected TVs at the CES event here in Las Vegas are Toshiba and Samsung – in both cases the flat screens will have Intel’s CE chip embedded, which will allow the TV to run Yahoo’s “Widget Channel”.
Samsung 2009 flat screen line-upSamsung says its 2009 flat-panel HD TV lineup will support Yahoo’s Widget Engine. The TVs will connect to your network via Ethernet or an optional Wi-Fi USB dongle. The TVs will be available in the US spring, though unfortunately there’s no mention of Australia in the initial rollout.
Toshiba to offer network player
Toshiba is demoing a concept model at CES, but says it will have Internet connected TVs in the second half of 2009, though only for the US at first. It will have an LCD TV, and LCD TV/DVD combo device with the technology built-in. Interestingly Toshiba will also be offeringt a standalone network player – good news if you’ve already bought an HD TV, but still want the Internet experience on your TV.
Windows Media Extender enters the picture
Also interesting is Samsung and Toshiba’s pledge of support for Windows Media Extender – an interesting idea which could in theory give TVs the ability to natively stream music and videos from your home server or laptop, without the fuss of separate set top boxes.
We’re not entirely clear if this means HD TVs will get Media Center Extender abilities themselves – we’ll have to wait for the demos here at CES for more detail. Some improved type of Electronic Program Guide (EPG) would be nice too – for those people still struggling with Australian networks free EPGs, or paying for IceTV.
The future of TV?
This is much more exciting than the old idea of NetTV, which Microsoft and others have tried, unsuccessfully to push for years with Media Center PCs. For one thing, there’s no clunky Web browser - Yahoo’s Widget Channel overlays Web menus or widgets over whatever your watching on TV. These could be eBay widget to watch your auctions, stock checkers, or Facebook.
Whether any of this provides anything to rival Apple’s slick Apple TV, which is slick, though restricted to iTunes movies and TV shows, remains to be seen.