Internet Enabled Televisions and
What They're Offering
Most major television manufacturers now offer buyers at least a minimum of Internet connectivity. Some, such as Toshiba,
eschew a browser completely while others; LG and Sony for instance, offer browsers only on certain models.
If you’re confused about who offers
what, head over to Amazon and do a search for ‘smart tv’and start clicking on the different models of televisions.
Almost every product has a video available which gives you the low down on what each one offers. The Amazon videos are
short and informative, quickly giving you all the basic information you need. Once you get a feeling for each manufacturer’s
offerings and, hopefully, having narrowed your search, then you can check out your favorite model on its own website
you’re reading was current when it was written. Things change. Sony has just announced that the Opera mini browser will
be available on some of its Bravia line. They also offer Google TV on another line of sets. If you’re thinking of taking
the plunge into smart TVs, do your research online and in the store. Change is good but with smart TVs, it’s can get
Here’s a rundown of what some manufacturers are offering at this moment.
– With probably the leanest offerings as far as smartness goes, Toshiba offers two levels of access: NetTV, with the
usual apps such as Facebook, twitter and Pandora, with either YouTube or NetFlix. Their more expensive models come with ‘Enhanced
Net TV’ which includes YouTube and Netflix as well as Blockbuster. According to various reports, there is no browser
in Toshiba’s future.
Vizio – A click of a button
on the remote brings up the Internet icons across the bottom of the screen on the Vizio XVT series of smart televisions. You
can keep an eye on whatever you are watching and scan the Internet icons at the same time. The remote also includes
a slip-out QWERTY keyboard for updating your status on Facebook while you’re watching TV.
– LG uses something called Netcast to access its selection of Internet apps. A menu pops up, covering the whole
screen, and you select which Internet portal you want. Text input on the screenis a bit tedious we think, and there is talk
of a browser being available very soon. LG also offers the BD590 smart Blu-ray player equipped with a 250 gig HD for around
Sony – Of all the manufacturers we looked at,
Sony seems to have grasped the smart part of television better than anyone else. Sure, they are in limbo as far as Google
TV goes but so is everyone else. What really won us over was the simple but very effective presentation on the website.
Except for the techno bubble sound in the background,
the Sony flash presentation is head and shoulders above any other manufacturer’s information page. All of the features
are explained plus Sony eases some of your stress by answering common questions about Internet TV, all on the same web page.
Every other manufacturer basically gives you the runaround when you’re hunting for the details you need-
as if they aren’t really sure of what they’re offering - but Sony puts it all out there for you on their sonystyle.com
also offers a cool keypad/scroll/touchpad remote with their smart deviceswhich is the closest thing we’ve seen to a
mouse/keyboard combo yet. You’d probably feel more comfortable using your thumbs to input text but it’s
a lot better than waving a motion controller around in the air for your LOLs.
Add Google Chrome to all of this and you’ve got
a pretty complete package. Once Google TV gets straightened out, if it ever does, Sony should jump to the head of the line
with their nice array of products (and premium price tags).
Google TV – At this point in
time, all of the major networks have blocked Google TV. Everything is on hold until Google works a deal of some sort with
at least some of the biggies.
This may take some time, as Google isn’t known for its finesse when it comes
to dealing with partners, but at least Google has tried to master convergence. Sure, there have been some bumps in the
road but the concept itself is very strong. Time will tell if Google TV will be a success.
Not everything that
Google touches turns to gold but we feel that Google might just have a winner with this one. In a year, we’ll know more
about where this is all going.
In Our Wildest Dreams...What we’d like to see
on our IETVs.
With enormous amounts of LCD or plasma real estate hanging on our walls, why are we limited in what we can choose
to watch? PIP is great but why stop at two onscreen boxes? Any live sporting event that is streamed over the Internet begs
for multiple feeds. Why not allow us to choose the camera we watch?
Think of a center box with the normal feed
in it surrounded by boxes with the feeds from the other cameras in them. That would give us ultimate control. We could check
out the cheerleaders, for instance, or the fanatics in Philly, or the action on the line during a scrimmage simply by choosing
which camera feed is shown in the center.
Anyone who reads this is a pretty intense computer user. We’re used to multiple screens,
busy desktops and multi-tasking. Many of us aren’t content with just watching a movie or a TV show and taking a break
during commercials to Facebook or twitter. We’re used to doing both at the same time. Add chat into that equation and
we’re back to the HTPC concept. Or are we?
If a manufacturer can dish up a decent HD screen with a generic PC attached, something that
would allow for some storage, BluRay and the new IETV interaction, the costs wouldn’t be high enough to drive customers
away. We’re not talking about gaming or rendering HD video here, just some simple PC activities while we’re watching
Modern Family....in the cloud...