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Internet-enabled TVs are a hot holiday gift

December 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
When it comes to holiday gifts, certain electronics, including flat screen TVs, are expected to be hot sellers according to a Consumer Reports' poll. But why not use that same TV to access movies and other programming directly from the Internet? Take the Internet and some of the newest TVs, now you can marry the two at the click of a button.

"Most of the major TV brands now have at least a couple of models that can access the Internet through a broadband connection," said Jim Wilcox from Consumer Reports. "Those sets tend to be a little bit more expensive though."

Consumer Reports just checked out several online services, including Viera Cast from Panasonic, Samsung's Media-2.0, and LG's Netcast.

You can access most of these services by connecting a TV to the Internet via an Ethernet connection and then pushing a button on your remote. Icons called widgets appear on the TV screen. A couple of clicks start's the program.

Depending on your set, you can also stream movies from companies like Amazon video-on-demand, Netflix, or Vudu.

"Overall, we found the quality of the streaming video to be good. It's about the same quality of a DVD," said Wilcox.

And Vudu's HDX format is even better. Its real HD quality, but you do need a faster Internet connection. Also on Internet-enabled TVs where you can access weather and stock updates and share photos.

"We found all the online services relatively easy to use," said Wilcox.

As for cost, except for the streaming movies, the services are free.

Be aware, while these new TVs are able to access the Internet, you can't surf the net like you can on your computer.

If you're looking to buy an Internet-ready TV, Consumer Reports says ones from the Samsung 6000 and 7000 series, as well as the Sony XBR series, did very well in its tests and are worth considering.


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