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CEDIA Attendees Say Connected HDTVs Are the Future

11 Sep, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

ATLANTA — Despite all the connected HDTVs shown off at the Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo, every company showcasing them stressed the same thing: It’s a TV first, an Internet connection second.

“Five years from now, I bet this will be a standard feature on every HDTV,” said Bob Lawton, a regional manager for LG Electronics. “What’s really nice about this capability is you’re not relying on your cable company to access these crumbs of content. It’s fast and it’s free.”

Those “crumbs” are usually selected content providers, like YouTube or Yahoo! And there’s a reason full Web browsing isn’t found on HDTVs.

“It’s a big challenge with a full Web browser, because it needs to be constantly updated,” said Dan Schinasi, senior marketing manager for HDTV for Samsung. “Then you have to worry about viruses, install a hard drive, licensing. That all increases the price.”

Andy Parsons, SVP of corporate communications and new product planning for Pioneer, said connected TVs complement physical disc.

“It’s clearly popular with consumers, being able to access content directly on the TV, and it compliments packaged media very well,” he said. “We just need to make it brain-dead simple for consumers to use.”

He also noted that the country’s broadband infrastructure and current bandwidth shortfalls prevent connected TVs from being used by everyone.

“If the entire country started watching Netflix at the same time, it wouldn’t work,” he said.

Robert Perry, SVP of Panasonic Consumer Electronics, said ease of use is the No. 1 concern when companies do connected HDTVs.

“The holy grail of technology is making it easy to use,” he said. “It’s critical that even those not technologically inclined can use it without having to call the kids in to help.”

“It’s absolutely the future,” said Louis Masses, director of product planning for Toshiba’s digital audio-video group. “The key is convenience and making it something consumer want to use to enjoy content at home.”

At the CEDIA show:

• Sharp Electronics introduced its new LE700 Aquos LED series, which includes Internet-based access to NASDAQ, Weatherbug, games, the fantasy sports service Rallypoint, UCLICK daily comics and TrafficTM.

• Samsung Electronics showed off its new 8500 LED HDTV series at the show, which features the company’s Medi@2.0, which includes content from Yahoo!, USA Today, Twitter, YouTube and more.

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