The latest gadget in your home to open up to apps is the oldest one. Your television set is all set to get more interactive and smarter with Internet connectivity and browsable apps.
New-age vision: Update your TV with Net integration.
For one, most apps offered on these TVs, such as Netflix and Pandora, are not available in India. Jitendra Shah, a businessman, bought a Samsung LED 46B7000 with Internet@TV function last year but couldn’t locate any widgets or apps pre-loaded in his device. “While installing I checked and asked the engineer to get them working but he couldn’t," he wrote on the www.cnet.com forum, a website that reviews products and gadgets. Shah changed the region in his TV set to Indonesia and got three apps and a weather widget. Still dissatisfied, he returned his model and bought a 40C7000. “The problem, as I found out later, was that the TV didn’t have an upgraded version of Internet@TV 2010," he says. Shah upgraded the app. Finally, he could browse and download a variety of apps through the Samsung site www.tv.samsungapps.com
Since these TV sets can cost between Rs90,000 and Rs1.2 lakh, a safer option is investing in an Internet-enabled TV peripheral. This box sits between your cable set-top box and TV and is capable of seamlessly streaming and recording content from TV channels. It comes with pre-loaded applications such as YouTube and Flickr. It can easily be attached to any HDTV (high-definition television) with an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) cable.
Sony Blu-ray Disc™/DVD Player
The Internet-enabled Blu-ray Disc player BDP-S370/B comes with the Bravia Internet Video option. This means it can stream movies, TV shows, videos and music from YouTube and other apps available in India. You can convert your iPhone or iPod into a remote for this player. This is in addition to the Blu-ray disc player on which you can watch movies in Full HD 1080p. You will need a high-speed broadband connection.
Price: available in India for Rs9,990
For those who love to live in the Apple ecosystem, this is a perfect product to invest in. It’s not available in India yet, so you will need to buy one on your next trip abroad. Though most of its content- provider tie-ups are in the US, you will be able to stream YouTube videos, more than 200,000 podcasts, 4,000 Internet radio stations and photos from MobileMe and Flickr. This, along with easy streaming of music, photos and videos from PCs and Macs to your HDTV using iTunes, makes it an ideal investment. It has a built-in slide-show system and can connect with all Apple products.
Price:approx. $99 (Rs5,000)
Along with Sony, Google had announced a partnership with Logitech to develop a set-top box to stream Google TV. The result, announced worldwide in October, was Logitech Revue. The Revue is a companion box and can be connected easily to an HDMI cable. It comes with all the functions and integration of Google TV software—programming and movies from multiple sources such as the Internet, broadcast providers, PCs and mobile devices to the TV. Google search makes it easier to find what you are looking for in these multiple streams. As mentioned before, a particular search can give you listings from your cable TV channels, YouTube or DVRs (digital video recorders). The box comes with a keyboard controller. The pre-loaded apps include Napster for digital downloads, CNBC to stay abreast with news, and Twitter. Moreover, you can control your TV with your mobile phone. The Google TV interface is at a nascent stage, so this is an experimental buy.
Price: approx. $300 (Rs13,800)
Roku is a good option if you want to experiment with the Internet-TV integration without spending too much. You need a high-speed Internet connection of 1.2 Mbps or more. Other than the usual apps, Roku offers BomTV, a Malayalam channel, Databazaar Media Channel, which comes with the latest Hindi movies and serials, Telugu TV, Yupp TV and Zinemaya, a treasure trove of South Asian documentaries.