Happy New Year! And welcome to a maddening revolution in television from this year: the TV is marrying the Internet, products are marrying services, software is marrying content and home viewing is marrying social media.
Expect a lot of offspring from this marriage of convergence and convenience. In various shapes, sizes and prices.
Things came to a head last week at the Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas. While much of the hype there was about 3D television, I think the real juice lies elsewhere in the way online video, software applications and social networking are blending with the good old TV set.
Last weekened, I watched a promo of Samsung’s upcoming LED TV. What stuck me was not its wall-mount screen, but that it will come pre-bundled with some content like children’s games. The Korean giant is not alone.
Between LG, Panasonic, Sony, Sharp,and less-known brands like Vizio, plenty of innovations are happening.
Panasonic has a service called VieraCast that offers Amazon Video on Demand, online video site YouTube and Bloomberg news.
LG offers YouTube and a streaming service for subscribers of video-rental service Netflix. Last week, Web communications
firm Skype said new high-definition televisions from Panasonic and LG will feature Skype voice and video calling.
Samsung is launching an online application store (www.samsungapps.com) which should address both handphones and videos.
Sony is selling an Internet video box. Sharp offers traffic updates through a software widget. Vizio will sell Net-enabled TVs with a QWERTY keyboard. And India’s own Videocon has already started a DTH service with its own TV sets that have built-in set-top boxes.
Some day, you will tap a keyboard while watching TV when a tweet from the microblog service Twitter will flash on the screen from a cousin in the US, offering a Web link to a funny video. You will quickly download it and share your views on Facebook. But your service bills may rise!