PCs were born smart; cell phones acquired smarts via a brain transplant. But TVs have remained comfortably dumb for decades despite playing a role in the multi-billion-dollar video game software market that has created some of the most sophisticated applications ever purchased by consumers.
For the past decade, TiVo has added a dizzying array of Internet-delivered content options from Yahoo, Rhapsody, Napster, Netflix, Pandora, and others, and popular game consoles such as the Xbox 360 have also offered ways to obtain movies on demand.
The end of 2010 saw an explosion of other gateway devices entering the market-- inexpensive streaming products such as Roku and Apple TV; PC bridges such as the Imation Wireless Link and Veebeam; and products that have integrated storage such as the Cirago TV Platinum and Western Digital WDTV Live Hub.
But the most intriguing of these products are those that are little more than showcases for operating systems that aspire to live on high-volume devices such as Blu-ray players and TVs. They include D-Link's Boxee Box (soon to be joined by a similar product from Iomega) and Logitech's Revue powered by Google TV.
The good news for these companies is that while relatively few TVs contain Internet connections today, the number is rising. According to NPD's Retail Tracking Service, 11.5 percent of flat-panel TVs sold in 2010 were capable of Internet connectivity. The number rises to almost 24 percent when one looks at TVs above 40 inches. … Read more