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Smart TVs: The (Not So Hidden) Trend of CES

If you’ve been following the site, then you’ve probably heard of Google TV. It’s just one of many Internet-capable television platforms that strives to bring the web to the big screen. Well, at least the big screen inside your home.

Google TV and platforms like it are being referred to as smart TVs, and though they may not have had the cache of tablets or 3D TVs at CES, they were still out in full force. The purpose of smart TVs is to access the Internet, and all of its apps and services, from your television remote. Essentially, your TV becomes a larger version of your tablet or smartphone, although calling capabilities are usually not included.

You can obtain smart TV features in one of two ways. You can buy a television, such as the Sony Internet TV NSX-32GT1, which comes with an Internet connection program already built in, or you can purchase a set-top box, such as LG’s ST600 Smart TV Upgrader, which debuted at CES.

Aside from Sony and LG, there were many other big names that waded into CES’ smart TV trend pool. Sharp, Haier, Reycom, Panasonic, Yahoo!, Logitech, Intel and Samsung all showcased their smart TV capabilities, though each company had different partnerships that limited or provided exclusive access to specific content, channels, apps and features.

For example, Sharp’s smart TV-enabled set-top boxes feature Pandora and Facebook, allowing you to access your Internet radio or social media page from your remote control. Certain Sony sets like the Bravia can access Hulu, which provides tons of TV content for you to choose from. However, the Sony Internet TVs, which work with Google TV, cannot access Hulu.

These little nuances make the smart TV business complicated. While it’s evident that many television and Internet companies are chomping at the bit to integrate Internet into our television screens, the limited access, complicated set ups and, oftentimes, blocked content probably still has a ways to go before consumers will embrace it.

Plus, no one’s answering the question of whether we even wantInternet on our TVs. Isn’t that what tablets, laptops and smartphones are for?

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