Sony declares 2011 "year of the smart TV"

Sony declares 2011 "year of the smart TV"

The tide of smart TV services grows with the arrival of a new movie service for Sony Bravia owners.

Earlier this year we went out on a limb and decided this would be the year of the tablet. How could you blame us? We've been playing with new review models all year.

Meanwhile Sony thinks smart TV will be bigger than Ben Hur.

Declaring a year the "year of" anything is surely another way for technology companies to say "we want to sell lots" of those things. Still, we admire Sony for not holding back on the hype for smart TV, or IPTV as it's also known.

And if you own a network connected Bravia TV, there's something in it for you. This week Sony turned on its Australian video on demand service. You'll need a network connected Bravia, or Sony Blu-Ray player or home theatre system, but if you've got one, fire up the Xross Media Bar menu and scroll till you find the Qriocity icon.

The Qriocity web site

The interesting thing here is that you don't need a separate set top box if you already have a compatible Bravia. This is unlike most of the other movie services like FetchTV, Foxtel, or the PS3 movie service.

Is this a good thing? One the upside, Sony tells us you won't pay any ongoing monthly fees for the new movie service. Renting HD movies will cost up to $6.99, or SD up to $4.99. You get 30 days to start watching, then 48 hours to finish watching.

Sony is calling 2011 the year of smart TV with the company's Sharon Ashworth asking: "what’s smarter than sitting back, relaxing and watching the latest High Definition movies streamed straight to the Sony Internet TV device or Blu-ray Disc Player in your living room?"

Well, some people might also want a set top box with inbuilt storage to record free to air shows (the Telstra T-Box comes with 1TB, for example). And while Sony's new service is a great start, the press release notes the availability of "hundreds" of movies. By comparison, other services like Telstra's BigPond Movies boast "thousands of titles". Services like Fetch TV offer a better variety of extra channels too. Give it time, and we'd expect the choice for Bravia users will increase.

Still, while Sony's service isn't that much cheaper than going down to the local video shop, it's much more convenient and if there's nothing to watch you don't pay a thing. Can't argue with that.


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