HDTVs, Blu-Ray Players Push Web Connections

Connected TVs, set-top boxes, and Blu-ray Disc players aren't new, but they continue to make new connections with Web sites and services, from YouTube and Netflix to Amazon and Internet radio sites.

hdtv cedia
Artwork: Chip Taylor
The definition of "connected" varies widely between consumer electronics vendors. Some offer a lot more than others, but all are building up their portfolios of Web video and interactive services. Some of the newest entries were on display last week at the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) event in Atlanta.

Sony, which already offers movies, TV shows, and music from some two dozen partners, including Amazon movies on demand, Slacker radio, and YouTube, announced that it will add Netflix to its Bravia Internet Video lineup later this fall. Available on networkable Bravia sets, the video service will also appear on a new networkable Sony Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-N460, which will ship later this fall priced under $250. (Sony Bravia TVs also offer Web content such as stocks, weather, and Twitter, via their Bravia Widgets.)

Graphic: Diego Aguirre
LG Electronics, meanwhile, announced the addition (via a firmware upgrade later this month) of the Vudu on-demand service to the Netcast Entertainment Access service on its $399 BD390 Blu-ray Disc player. The service already offers access to CinemaNow, Netflix, and YouTube content.

Samsung's Internet@TV service, which already had a dozen Yahoo widgets, now offers on-screen access to Rallycast fantasy sports applications, including Facebook messaging and access to team stats. And Samsung's networkable Blu-ray Disc players, including the BD-P1600, BD-P3600, and BD-P4600, will add YouTube access to the existing Pandora and NetFlix services.

Pioneer, meanwhile, demo'd a new platform for connected electronics. Code-named Project ET, it is designed to allow device designers and/or consumers to choose the content and services they want by clicking on menu buttons in the service's Web portal. The prototypes at CEDIA featured everything from video-on-demand services to backup.

Pioneer officials said the platform could exist on a set-top box of its own or on a Blu-ray Disc player or other networkable device (one demo setup featured a Blu-ray player with 1 terabyte of built-in storage. The company hopes to show a product based on the platform within the next few months.

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