Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manufacturers of "smart TVs" will make their pitches at CES

After 3-D TV failed to excite consumers last year, manufacturers are betting that following the app-laden path of smartphones and tablet computers will fatten up what have been ultraslim profit margins.

For more than a decade, consumer-electronics manufacturers have been trying to marry the Internet and TV. In recent years, they've added connectors that let TV sets hook up to the Internet and, in some cases, added software that provides shortcuts to Web-based services from companies like movie-rental service Netflix Inc.

But this year, starting with product announcements at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, manufacturers are making a full-on push with "smart TVs"— models that have built-in computer-style processors and operating software so the sets can be modified with applications just as computers and smartphones are.

With no precise definition of a smart TV, manufacturers will be trying to stake out their ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. Most companies are likely to tout connections that allow a TV to connect to a home Wi-Fi network without requiring an Ethernet cable. Many sets also will have a technical interface, known as DLNA, that allows them to screen videos and apps run from computers, smartphones and other gadgets.

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