One of the big trends to emerge so far this year is the connected television set. Just about every big TV manufacturer is coming out with a set that plugs into the web to deliver news, social networks and even over-the-top video to the big screen. […]

One of the big trends to emerge so far this year is the connected television set. Just about every big TV manufacturer is coming out with a set that plugs into the web to deliver news, social networks and even over-the-top video to the big screen. But while we’re getting drips and drabs of online capabilities by way of widgets and such, we don’t have full web browsing access on our TVs yet, and that’s on purpose.

The lack of full Internet functionality stems from a combination of factors, according to an excellent write-up in today’s New York Times on the state of the browsable television, among them price, the fear of your TV “crashing,” and whether or not people even want browse the web on their TVs. From the article:

“Sony’s stance is that consumers don’t want an Internet-like experience with their TVs, and we’re really not focused on bringing anything other than Internet video or widgets to our sets right now,” said Greg Belloni, a spokesman for Sony. Widgets is an industry term for narrow channels of Internet programming like YouTube.

However, not all share Sony’s view. A company called Personal Web Systems is shipping a $150 adapter this quarter that will make TV sets fully Internet-enabled.

Given that my laptop is never far from my reach, I don’t see myself using the TV set to browse the web anytime soon. Plus, when I’m on the couch, I just want to relax. But there is a whole generation that expects just about anything with a screen to be connected to the web — why should the TV be any different?

How much of the Internet do you want on your television? Is the full web on the TV the way of the future?

  1. blip.tv is my homepage on my PS3. with so many shows being shot on HD and HDV these days, they look and sound great in 42 inches of plasma. i love the internet in a sit back environment.

    1. Chris Albrecht Monday, February 16, 2009


      Which Blip shows are you watching? Just curious.

  2. The choice to have it all is important – even if you only use a small portion.

  3. alinde Omalley Monday, February 16, 2009

    As an expat living in Mexico, I would LOVE to have web-tv. Sure, I’m trying to learn Spanish, but when exhausted, I still prefer TV in English. So watching what I can find on line is great. I’ll be one of the first in line for the promised adaptor. And I will not buy a large screen TV until I can at least use it with my computer.

  4. I think anyone who has ever had the Internet in their living room HDTV knows the answer to this question.

    I’ve been using Tivo to receive YouTube on my big screen for a few months now and am totally hooked. Yes, YouTube. There’s so much content out there. It’s short. You can share it with your entire family in the living room.

    But it’s not enough. I want full Internet on my TV.

    You should link to the company you’re talking about: Personal Web Systems. Care to give them a shout out?

    I just had a briefing with a company called ZeeVee, which lets you use your PC from your TV. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s a different way of doing things.


    Jose Alvear

  5. Just like how DSL ushered in the era of online video, so to will web enabled TV usher in an era of web based TV programming. Goodbye cable providers?

    Also, companies who lacked awareness of user generated content will start putting advertising dollars behind web generated video because it is an inescapable aspect of daily life… think about it… web video at the dinner table. It’s the monetization that user generated video has been looking for because the audience is now — everyone.

    I’m excited to see how the web enabled TV revolution will pan out.

  6. Personal Web Systems? They have no website available. Why would you even quote them in this article?

  7. The important point is not whether you want to browse the whole web from your TV couch. The key is getting closer to zero friction between publishers and consumers.

    Clearly you need a different UI for the TV couch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean filtering the content.

    Manufacturers want to filter the content for business reasons more than anything. The usability argument is just convenient.

  8. I’ve been preparing for LUS Fiber here in Lafayette and I think you really ought to try using your HD TV as a computer screen. I didn’t think I’d like it much but on my 52 inch full HD TV you can read the screen and navigate via a bluetooth keyboard from your couch. It opens up whole new social ways of viewing the web–videos of friend’s children, nifty TED talks, or how-to podcasts are best as communal experiences and look great. Some TV shows, like Fox’s new Dollhouse, are only available online via their browser interface. Since local showtime conflicts with my TiVo’s subscription to Battlestar, well, that’s useful.

    But beyond the web-on-community screen aspect there’s computer-mediated web-based TV stuff like Boxee with a reasonable remote-based interface which really works to aggregate online TV show & movie sources (Netflix, Hulu, and more) and Miro which transforms podcasts into faux channels.

    Bandwidth though, is crucial. Streaming can be dicey. Even on my pretty-good Cox system. But by the end of the month I’ll have a 50 meg symmetric stream to work with. At that point having the dedicated computer will allow ichat conferencing and Skype video calls to Afghanistan to use the Sony camera perched on top of the screen….a comfortable way to have group calls for Valentine’s instead of peering into a laptop.

    Once people get real net access and enough bandwidth to really show up well on large HDTVs I think the days of cablecos will number less than a decade…

  9. I truly want 100% web access on my TV. Problem is, I think it’s going to be a big fight to get there (without a set top box). Sony’s line about consumers not wanting Internet on their TVs is a bunch of hooey. Sure, there’s a whole swath of the population that right now can’t think of what they’d do with Internet on their TV, but that’s the case with any technology transition. The real issue is that Sony is also a content company, and those in control of today’s high-dollar content distribution are all in fear of 1) losing control and 2) the Internet means “digital pennies.” Those people are going to do everything in their power to stall moving the full Internet experience to TV.

  10. Nice post Chris,

    How much of the Internet do you want on your television?

    All the net would be good, you then get the choice to view layed back style or if feeling active, go into deep surfing.

    Is the full web on the TV the way of the future?

    I think so, the immersive visual power of TV is enhanced, when you have full couch potato control.

    1. You know — I’m not sure how much web I want. I actually don’t mind the idea of widgets, and the thought of social features like Facebook integration really intrigues me. But I think for pure web surfing, I’d much rather use my laptop (while watching TV).


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