Yahoo Connected TV Moves Beyond the TV

LAS VEGAS -- Yahoo announced today that its Connected TV widgets will begin showing up on such devices as home media boxes, Blu-ray players, and cable and IPTV set top boxes.

Yahoo says it's teamed up with chip makers MIPS and Sigma designs to produce reference chips running Yahoo widgets, which manufactures can use to build new Yahoo Connect TV devices.

Yahoo's original plan was to make its widgets available on new HDTVs. The service shipped on various lines of Sony, Vizio, Samsung, and LG TVs during 2009.

The first non-TV device to carry Yahoo widgets was announced here at CES today; it's a new ViewSonic media server called the VMP80 that will ship with Yahoo Connected TV baked in. The product is aimed at people who already own non-connected HDTVs, and who want to quickly and inexpensively add a bunch of Web video content to their viewing choices. The VMP80 media player will ship in Q1 2010 for an estimated MSRP of $159.

While Yahoo isn't naming names, expect more set top box manufacturers to announce new products containing Yahoo Connected TV widgets during 2010.

Yahoo widgets allow internet-connected TVs to access net video of all kinds after just one or two clicks on the remote by the viewer. Yahoo widgets appear as snippets in a "dock" at the bottom of your TV screen. You can also open a widget directory in a panel at the left of your screen to find what you want.

Yahoo has done a great job of making deals with all kinds of web video providers. Yahoo is now aggregating net video content from 26 different services including Netflix, VUDU, Amazon VOD, CinemaNow/Blockbuster, Showtime and CBS. Yahoo today announced the addition of the video catalogs of aggregators FrameChannel, Brightcove, Zinc, and 1Cast.

One thing you can't do (yet ) is perform a universal search across all that content to find a specific show, actor or subject matter type. If you know you want to watch an old movie but you don't know whether it's on Amazon VOD or VUDU or Netflix or somewhere else, there no way to quickly find out.

Yahoo has activated a Twitter widget that allows you to pop up a Twitter feed of people who are watching, and tweeting about, the show you're watching. One Vizio TV now ships with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard making adding your own tweets to the stream a lot easier. Expect to see a lot more of this collaborative viewing functionality across many devices and service in the future.

Yahoo says Facebook and MySpace widgets are now in the works.

For more up-to-the-minute blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PC World's complete coverage of CES 2010.

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