LG Adds a Direct Internet Link to a Line of HDTVs
From The New York Times - January 05, 2009
By BRAD STONE
Those who want to bring the wide world of Web video to their television screens usually need a separate device — a video-game console, DVD player or set-top box with Internet access.
Now they will be able to take a more direct route. LG Electronics, the third-largest television manufacturer in terms of United States sales, will announce on Monday a line of televisions that can directly receive Internet video in addition to satellite and cable signals.
LG’s line of LCD and plasma televisions will be called Broadband HDTVs and are expected to cost around $300 more than comparable models without Internet access, said Tim Alessi, director of product development at LG Electronics.
Owners of the televisions will not be able to browse the Web freely — the TVs’ processors and memory chips are not up to that task. But the Broadband HDTVs will have access to a variety of specific video sites, and on Monday, LG will announce one in particular: Netflix.
The televisions will be able to stream any of the 12,000 films and television shows in Netflix’s Watch Instantly library, many of which are provided by Starz, the premium cable television service.
“It’s hugely symbolic,” said Netflix’s chief executive, Reed Hastings. “The holy grail has always been to give the TV an Internet jack in addition to the cable jack. It’s an early glimpse of the long-term future.”
Mr. Hastings, who runs the lucrative Netflix DVD-by-mail business, does not think the revolution will happen soon. People keep their televisions for a decade or longer on average, he said, so it will take years for broadband-capable TVs to filter into most American homes. Buying a video-game console or Blu-ray disc player with Internet capabilities may still be a better short-term solution for many people.
Regardless, more television makers like Samsung and Panasonic are sure to introduce similar devices, perhaps even at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Sony’s Bravia televisions can use the Internet with the addition of a separate module, but analysts expect the company to build this capability into its sets.
For its part, Netflix, based in Los Gatos, Calif., is continuing to expand its Watch Instantly offerings. Also on Monday, the company will announce that it will add several Showtime programs to its library of streaming video, including the season premieres of “United States of Tara,” “The L Word” and “Secret Diary of a Call Girl.”
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