Vizio Announces Connected HDTV Platform

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Cut-rate HDTV maker Vizio—like every other HD TV manufacturer—has big plans to serve as the center of consumers’ media consumption…and wants to do it via its just-announced Connected HDTV platform. The idea is to combine traditional broadcast and television services with interactive and streamed content from the Internet, so users will be able to rent movies, play games interact with social networking and Internet sites, check their email, surf the Web, and more, all using their television. Vizio wants its Connected HDTV platform to be an interactive compliment to traditionally-passive TV viewing.

“As consumer demand for content and information grows exponentially, we want to address what our customers are increasingly looking for the ability to enjoy their favorite content and services from the comfort of their living room easy chair,” said Vizio sales and marketing VP Laynie Newsome, in a statement.

Vizio’s Connected HDTV platform will integrate the Yahoo Widget Engine, so users will presumably be able to download and install new Widgets to add new interactive capabilities to their TVs…like tapping into Yahoo’s information services, gawking at photos from Flickr, or even tracking eBay auctions. In addition, the Connected HDTV platform will support interactive Flash content Vizio says it’s aleadyy working with a variety of content partners and service providers about getting their services integrated into Vizio’s Connected HDTV platform—and instead of just waving hands and being vague about who those partners might be, Vizio is actually naming names: Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon, Yahoo, Pandora, Rhapsody, and casual game developer Accedo are already on board.

Adding interactive services to televisions is not a new idea: Sony’s Bravia Internet link perhaps being the most direct comparison. But many of interactive services have been added by way of an additional media server or set-top box, which often comes with its own content provider and service restrictions. Vizio hope that by building a broad, interactive platform right into its televisions, it’ll have a leg up on the rest of the industry by offering consumers a wider choice of providers and services without the hassle of additional add-on hardware.

A crucial question remains, however: will Vizio get Connected HDTV to market in time? Right now, the company is saying the first TVs in the line will reach consumers in late 2009, in time for the next end-of-year holiday buying season. Will that be soon enough?

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