Toshiba on Wednesday said it would deliver this year Internet-connected TVs that make use of Yahoo and Intel technology to access movies, music, sports, and other content from the Web.
The company said it would integrate the Widget Channel applications framework developed by the two companies in LCD TVs, LCD TV/DVD combos, and standalone DVD players. The framework enables consumer electronics manufacturers to run small applications called TV Widgets to access Web content.
Toshiba said it will ship preinstalled widgets in products, and give consumers the option of downloading others from Web sites. The applications are organized in a separate channel that's accessible through the TV's remote control.
Powering the Widget Channel in Toshiba's products will be Intel's Media Processor CE 3100 processor. Toshiba on Wednesday also said it would start selling this year TVs powered by its Cell microchip, a high-power processor used in Sony's PlayStation 3 video-game console, according to Reuters news agency. Developed by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony, the Cell provides high-definition graphics and is capable of showing up to 48 separate moving pictures on one screen. Toshiba didn't disclose the price of the Cell-powered sets.
Toshiba's Yahoo-Intel products also will include support for Microsoft's Windows Media Center technology that's a part of Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Ultimate and the upcoming Windows 7. The Media Center software turns PCs equipped with TV tuners into a digital video recorder. In addition, the application provides access to content within the PC, such as home videos, music, and pictures.
Toshiba didn't say how much the Internet-connected TVs would cost, but said they would be available in the United States in the second half of this year. The products are being showcased this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Toshiba is not alone in trying to merge the TV and the Web. Rival Samsung Electronics is also showcasing at CES flat-panel TVs that make use of the Widget Channel framework. Such products reflect manufacturers' desire to play a major role in emerging networks in the home that could eventually connect PCs, TVs, DVD players and other devices.
"This is a paradigm shift that will establish the TV as an essential gateway to emerging entertainment content," Yoshihide Fuji, president and chief executive of Toshiba's Digital Media Network Company, said of the upcoming products.
Nevertheless, the success of the advanced TVs will depend on manufacturers making them easy to use and offering the TVs at a price that's appealing to mainstream consumers, analysts suggest.