Technology is transforming the humble idiot box into a powerful Internet appliance. Whether you call it “smart TV,” “connected TV,” or “Internet TV,” it has the potential to upend our boob tube experience, letting us watch our favorite shows whenever and wherever we want, and merging TV shows with online content in cunning, clever ways. Smart TV won’t prevent television from rotting your brain (it’s not that smart), but it should empower you to find, and get more from, all the content that’s available.
Hollywood studios and TV networks are finally waking up to the power of the Internet, thanks to pioneering efforts by the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu. And if you can wait for pay-TV services such as HBO and Showtime to release their original programming on DVD, you can seriously consider ditching your expensive cable or satellite subscription services, too.
In the following pages, we’ll solve all the mysteries of smart TV. We’ll explain every important service and device that falls under the smart TV rubric (omitting only the most obvious players, such as YouTube), and tie everything together into a neat and simple package. It’s time to turn on and tune in.
Best Buy on Tuesday said it is launching its new digital video service called CinemaNow, which will give movie watchers same-day instant access to new release movies and TV shows.
"With the introduction of CinemaNow, Best Buy continues our commitment to evolve with our customers as their demand for digital entertainment grows," said Chris Homeister, senior vice president of entertainment for Best Buy. "The convenience, selection and flexibility of the CinemaNow service offers customers more freedom in the way they choose to consume entertainment from Best Buy. This service, which complements our existing suite of digital entertainment brands, will be available to customers in their homes and on-the-go through a broad array of devices and will be brought to life in store with the help of our Blue Shirts and Geek Squad Agents."
At least initially, the service will be made available through select connected Blu-ray players and HDTVs, as well as on most PCs through CinemaNow's online portal, www.cinemanow.com, Best Buy said. Starting this month, the service will extend to all new connected Blu-ray players and home theater systems from LG, and will launch on several other devices from different manufacturers later this year.
Blu-ray might not be cheap, but LG is doing everything it can to make the high-definition technology more appealing to consumers still feeling burned over HD-DVD's seemingly untimely demise. LG's BD300 already integrates Netflix-streaming capability, and not only will that carry over to LG's upcoming Blu-ray players in the first half of 2009, but the company says it will also add CinemaNow and YouTube functionality to its new decks.
"As millions of U.S. consumers view and download movies or TV shows through the Internet, they are demanding easier ways to access content and more home entertainment options," said Tim Alessi, director of product development, LG Electronics USA. "From Blu-ray to instant streaming from Netflix to CinemaNow and YouTube, LG is bridging the gap between packaged media and video-on-demand services to provide entertainment solutions for consumers' demand for content."
Blu-ray sales haven't exactly been scorching since HD-DVD's kicked the bucket, with consumers seemingly content to make do with upconverting DVD players. But as broadband service continues to get faster, streaming media has started to emerge as a viable contender in the high definition movie market, leaving many to wonder if digital downloads can co-exist with Blu-ray. It appears so, if LG's upcoming lineup is any indication.
No pricing or availabilty information on the new players has yet been mentioned.
CinemaNow offers newly released movies on the same pay-per-view model that most of the other services here (with the exception of Vongo) use, but the service also sells a limited collection of movies that can be downloaded and burned to a DVD that can be played anywhere. CinemaNow’s optional subscription service allows unlimited downloads, but these titles cannot be burned.