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This is one area that has trickled its way down to regular folks and CEDIA was chock-full of products that provide it, along with whole-house automation to run it. What was different was the expansion of more new ways to view, listen, stream and capture content directly at the display. Samsung and others are including Yahoo widgets such as local news and weather along with many others. The highlight for representatives at the show was a particular widget from Rallycast that allowed you to monitor your fantasy football team(s). Mitsubishi and LG are integrating the well renowned VUDU HD movie service into their top HDTV models as well as into LG’s newest Blu-ray players. Netflix is working with a host of manufacturers to integrate video streaming into Blu-ray players and media centers and there’s a good chance by CES 2010 that Sony and VIZIO will have integrated displays to show along with a date of availability.

From a Samsung press release posted July 30, 2009:

The Internet@TV - Content Service, developed in association with Yahoo!, provides onscreen access to popular web-based content from Yahoo! (Flickr, Video, News, Weather, and Finance), USA Today (Sports), Twitter, YouTube, and others. The widgets-based interface and scrollbar are activated with the push of a button, and run along the bottom of the screen for easy browsing of the latest programs and content available.

Samsung's Medi@2.0™ suite provides wired and wireless DLNA compatibility to enjoy photos, music and videos from a networked PC right on the television. Pre-loaded photos, artwork, games, and recipes are also included for entertaining, and two USB 2.0 connections can be used for playing a plethora of video, photo, and audio files from portable devices, including external hard memory.

From a Netflix press release posted August 3, 2009:

As Netflix continues to expand the movies and TV episodes that its members can watch instantly, the company is also partnering with leaders in consumer electronics to bring to market a growing number of network devices that can instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix directly to members' TVs. Those devices include Blu-ray disc players and new Internet TVs from LG Electronics; Blu-ray disc players from Samsung; the Roku digital video player; Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console; TiVo digital video recorders; and, soon, Internet TVs from Sony and VIZIO.

The widgets should be easy enough for most internet services but speed plays a greater role with video streaming. Wireless sounds like a great way to get the internet and video streaming to one of these products but bear in mind that can easily cut your speed in half over a hard wired connection, having the most influence on streaming HD content.

From the trenches of north east Atlanta all of these features are from another planet. I have seen hundreds of TVs with card readers and DTV tuners that were never used and the customers that did, well I can count on one hand. I have yet to see the first VUDU box, much less an Xbox 360, used as a media center in a customers home. The two common threads in all of this; owners are either oblivious to these features or even when they know about the features are challenged to navigate the product and use them. When I enter a customer’s home and request the remote for the TV, in nearly all cases I am given the satellite or cable box remote instead. Half the time it takes another 5 minutes to dig up the original TV remote so I can do my job.

I look forward hearing from our readers if you find any of these features not only inspiring but inspiring enough to spend money on.

Posted by Richard Fisher, November 30, 2009 9:30 AM

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About Richard Fisher

Richard Fisher is the President of Mastertech Repair Corporation, serving north east Atlanta, Georgia, and has been servicing, calibrating and reviewing audio video products since 1981. Tech Services USA, a division of Mastertech, creates sites, communities and libraries for consumers and professionals to share their technology knowledge and learn from each other. These include The ISF Forum and HD Library. HDTV Magazine exclusively publishes HD Library and Forum for Tech Services USA.

Richard is ISF and HAA certified providing calibration and A/V reproduction engineering services. Richard is a technical consultant and also provides performance ISF and HAA home theater systems and calibration via Custom HT. Mastertech Repair Corporation is a factory authorized service center for Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Toshiba and a member of the National Electronics Servicing Dealers Association, NESDA, and the Georgia Electronics Servicing Dealers Association, GESDA.