Sony is the latest in a line of consumer electronics companies that are attempting to connect the television to the internet. It is bringing out a box that attaches to the back of its new televisions, providing access to streaming video delivered over a broadband connection.
Sony Electronics president and chief operating officer Stan Glasgow unveiled the Sony Video Link internet video system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“The Internet is reshaping the entertainment and technology landscape,” he said “and it can’t come as any surprise that Sony is committed to creating an environment of convergence where products and content work together seamlessly, while providing consumers with new types of entertainment experiences.”
“While other companies struggle with standard definition,” he said, “Sony has developed a scalable internet HDTV solution with some notable partners providing content”. Those partners include AOL, Yahoo! and Grouper, now part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as Sony Pictures and Sony BMG.
The majority of new Sony televisions–starting with several Bravia flat-panel LCD TVs–will accept an attachable module that can stream broadband high-definition and other internet video content at the press of a remote control button.
The optional module will be available in the summer. It is quite a large bit of kit that attaches to the back of the screen–more of a set-back box. It will support RSS feeds and allow users to create custom channels, such as for local weather or traffic conditions.
The Sony Video Link will feature the Sony XMB Xross Media Bar interface which received an Emmy award at the CES trade show. It is similar to the icon based menus on the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 3.
Users might be better off with a PlayStation 3. Sony said it shipped a million of the new PS3 games consoles, with high-definition Blu-ray disc drives, in just six weeks before Christmas in the United States. The aim is now to ship six million PS3 units worldwide by the end of March. Sony has already sold over 110 million PS2 devices.
The point is that a television can already be connected to a range of devices that can display video from the internet, although it seems the HDMI digital inputs on its first generation high-definition displays did not support outputs from some computers.
The company is now promoting what it calls ‘Full HD’–progressively scanned 1080 line displays–signalling the obsolescence of the so-called ‘HD Ready’ screens it has been shipping that do not display the full resolution of even 1080 interlaced line outputs. The PS3 is currently one of the few devices that supports 1080p video, which looks superb.
The latest in the line of Sony Bravia displays is a stunning 70-inch 1080p high-definition LCD display. If that’s not big enough, they also had an 82-inch LCD prototype on show. How good internet video will look on such a screen is another matter.