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CES 2008 Sees More Convergence of Web and TV Content

Jan 31, 2008 12:00 PM

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The convergence of the Internet and television took another step forward at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show where Samsung and Sharp added Internet feeds to specially equipped TVs and Sony expanded the content offerings for its Bravia Video Link TVs.

Sony, which launched its line of Video Link-capable TVs last year, is filling out its palette of offerings to make more sophisticated use of the optional Video Link module on the back of the TV. Initially offering trailers and Web-based video clips, Sony has teamed with a range of content providers to add more compelling content that includes video shorts and full-length features.

CBS Interactive is Sony’s teammate for a wide assortment of Internet video content that for now, at least, is free to users. Material includes full episodes of TV shows, brief clips and highlights from entertainment, sports and news programming. Content from CBS property Showtime is also available along with Web-only programming including Wallstrip.

Additional CBS fare includes current and catalog shows including CSI, How I Met Your Mother, The Unit, The Price Is Right, The Young and the Restless, As the World Turns, Melrose Place, Dynasty, Hawaii Five-O and The Love Boat. From Showtime, Video Link viewers can dial in Weeds, Dexter, and boxing.

In addition to CBS, Sony has partnered with FEARnet, an online site for thriller and horror content for full-length programming and trailers; Ford Models, a website focusing on fashion and travel; music video site SingingFool, and VideoDetective, a catalog of movie trailers.

The Video Link module is an optional $300 add-on for compatible Bravia TVs. In their first stabs at Ethernet-equipped TVs, Samsung and Sharp have partnered with content providers for personalized content. Samsung has a deal with USA Today for news, financial and weather information, which users can access via remote control on InfoLink Series 6 and Series 7 flatpanel TVs. Samsung says the Internet connectivity adds a small premium to the price of the TVs which also are DLNA-compatible.

Sharp describes its Aquos Net feature as a gateway to unique Internet services that are available on the company’s new SE94U and D74U AQUOS TVs. Sharp currently has content agreements with Weatherbug for forecasts, NASDAQ for stock quotes and charts, and UClick for comic strips. Talks are in the works with NBC Universal for text-based news feeds and for real-time traffic reports and mapping. The SE94U and D74U TVs also tap into Gallery Player, the online art and photography site that delivers copyright-protected works to a compatible player.

A separate feature of Aquos Net enables users to contact Sharp’s technical support center directly from the TV for help in diagnosing problems or fine-tuning a picture. With permission from the user, Sharp technical support staff can look into the TV settings to determine if connections have been made properly. Through Aquos Net, consumers can access FAQs that explain terms including HDMI and HDTV, as well as view the user manual directly on the TV. Aquos Net TVs carry a $200 premium, according to Sharp.

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