Televisions from LG today joined the growing list of products able to stream movies instantly from Netflix. The Korean electronics maker announced it would debut a line of broadband-enabled TVs at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas this week.
The high definition sets join LG and Samsung Blu-ray players, the popular Microsoft XBox 360 gaming console, TiVo digital video recorders, a set-top box from Roku, and Mac and Windows computers in being able to stream any of 12,000 titles to a Netflix member's screen instantly.
But the TV represents the killer app – a straight connection from the web to the tube. The New York Times quotes Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: “It's hugely symbolic.... 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.”
Consumers can expect to pay about a $300 premium for the broadband-enabled sets, which won't be able to access the entire web – the TVs' processors and chips aren't yet up to the task.
All the same, the announcement has spurred talk on the way users interact with TVs, computers, and content, and how traditional product lines are blurring. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Over the past year, Panasonic Corp., Sharp Corp., and Samsung have come out with HD TVs that can access services such as Google Inc.'s YouTube and Picasa photo albums, along with online weather forecasts and stock tickers. Kurt Scherf, an analyst with Parks Associates, estimates the number of Web-enabled TV sets will grow to 14% of the projected 26 million-28 million TV sets to be sold in the U.S. in 2012 from 1% last year.
With TVs now headed for the web-enabled camp, the question turns to what's next. We already have web-enabled cars, alarm clocks, and refrigerators. What will follow?