HDTV: 10 Top Trends Coming to a Screen Near You in 2010

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Internet Connectivity

Internet connectivity is already adding some functionality to Internet TVs, letting you watch streaming video from Netflix or access news and weather info from your couch, for instance.

On three higher-end models in its Bravia XBR9 series introduced in January, Sony augmented its existing Bravia Internet Video Service with new Bravia Widgets for additional Internet content – including financial news, Yahoo Video, and Flickr – through the Yahoo Widgets Engine.

In fact, virtually all big manufacturers started moving in that direction in 2009. Yahoo’s widgets for Internet connectivity started to show up on TVs from Samsung, Vizio, and LG earlier this year, for instance. Sharp and Panasonic are offering proprietary widget technology.

But many advances are yet to come in areas ranging from content to the sheer numbers of TVs that are Internet-enabled, experts say. With Netflix, Blockbuster, and Amazon all getting into the act, more and more content is becoming available in terms of video on demand, Patel notes.

“iSuppli expects to see many more widgets for music, games, and other content become available in 2010 as more sets gain the ability to connect to the Internet and more consumers see the benefits of having an Internet-enabled TV set,” the analyst predicts.

By December, Sony offered 12 models for sale with built-in Internet connectivity in its XBR9, XBR10, WR5100, and ZR5100 series.

But Peddie points out that, despite all of this Internet connectivity, consumers still can’t shop or fully browse the Web from their TVs.

2160p Resolution

Ultra high 2160p resolution takes a giant step beyond current 1080p and 720p, offering a screen resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels. Aside from a more vibrant picture, another advantage is that 2160p screens can be divided into four separate displays, each with 1080p resolution.

But so far, 2160p TVs have been unaffordable to just about anyone other than Bill Gates or Oprah. An early 2160p HDTV from Samsung was followed by Westinghouse Digital’s D56QX1, which carried an initial price tag of $50,000.

In Japan, manufacturers have now launched two new 2160p HDTVs over the past couple of months: Sony’s Trimaster, priced at about $76,583, and Toshiba’s Cell Regza LCD, a product rumored to be on display in January at CES 2010 in Las Vegas.

Patel, however, expects that somewhere between 2009 and 2011, TV makers will roll out the first 2160p HDTVs for the consumer market. Although nowhere close to the $76,000 league, the first home 2160p sets will still be pricey in comparison to other home sets. They will be targeted at people who already own 1280p HDTVs and are looking to upgrade, Patel says.

Peddie concurs that 2160p pricing will eventually drop. But he suggests that, when it does, content issues could remain an issue. “What do you watch on them? Fat pixels of conventional TV?” he asks.

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