An Internet enabled television is the simplest way to connect to the Internet without turning anything else on.   Yet, you may be joined to a content provider that has partnered with a particular device that you have to use.  If you upgrade or change devices, be sure that the content service is compatible with that device. 

In-Stat projects that by 2014 there will be over 230 million Internet enabled products in homes.  If Internet television is to work, all content providers will have to be compatible with all Internet ready devices.   What doors will open in the future?     

Here are some of today's options.

Internet Enabled Devices for your Home Theater

Len Calderone

August 2011

Internet Enabled Devices for your Home Theater

Author: Len Calderone

An Internet enabled television is the simplest way to connect to the Internet without turning anything else on.   Yet, you may be joined to a content provider that has partnered with a particular device that you have to use.  If you upgrade or change devices, be sure that the content service is compatible with that device. 

In-Stat projects that by 2014 there will be over 230 million Internet enabled products in homes.  If Internet television is to work, all content providers will have to be compatible with all Internet ready devices.   What doors will open in the future?     

Here are some of today's options.    

 

All though it is easy to find Internet sites that have streaming movies and video, you still need the right equipment on which to play it.  With the right devices, you will have instant access to thousands of TV broadcasts from around the world, including movies, sports, e-learning and high-def (720p and 1080i). 

Some streaming media companies need certain equipment that is compatible with their streaming requirements.  Therefore, you might want to select the media site that you want to use to get your movies, and then check if there is a special device needed to view their content. 

To connect your television to the Internet, you first must check to see if your existing TV has an Ethernet port.  Most of the older LCD and Plasma sets do not have this capability.  If you are buying a new TV, make sure that it is Internet compatible.  Plug the Ethernet cable from your DSL modem to the Ethernet port on the TV.  Select the Ethernet port as the device you want on-screen. 

If your TV is not Internet capable, connect a next-generation gaming system or Internet ready device, such as Roku, to your television. It will have an Internet browser.  Plug the HDMI cable into the HDMI port on the device and plug the other end of the cable into an available HDMI port on the television.  Plug the Ethernet cable into the Ethernet port on the back of the device.  If you have wireless Internet in your house, your system can detect the WiFi and connect to it without cables.

Power on the television and the device, then press the "HDMI" port the device is plugged into.  Select the Internet option. The web browser will load up momentarily and you can begin surfing the web on your TV.

If you are using an Internet ready Blu-ray DVD player, connect the composite or HDMI cable to the television set from the Blu-ray player. If the player allows for wireless connection, the manufacturer will indicate this in the manual.   Plug in an Ethernet cable, or follow the on-screen instructions for your particular Blu-ray player to connect it wirelessly to the Internet.  Turn on the Blu-ray player and television to connect the Blu-ray player to the Internet to watch streaming video.

A site, such as MyTVPal enables the viewer to download a free player to your computer, as long as the computer has the basic requirements, such as a minimum 500 Kbps to watch most programs, but you will need 1.5Mbps to watch high-def. 

Be careful of P2P players, as they do not allow streaming HD.  They use bandwidth and CPU power even when you are not watching a video and will tend to monopolize a network connection, and not allow surfing the Internet or otherwise utilizing the network while files are being downloaded or uploaded.

The Apple TV is the company's aggressive move to capture the streaming-video business.   For just $99, you get access to Netflix, YouTube, TV, and movies from the iTunes Store.  The Apple TV is just an inch thick and has built-in Wi-Fi.  The 4 x 4” footprint makes it easy to position anywhere.  The main connection is the HDMI output, which can handle both high-def and surround sound.  It also has an Ethernet port and a mMicro -USB port.  The selection of TV shows to stream is limited to just ABC, Fox, BBC, and Disney, all though not all programs are available from these networks.  The remote consists of an aluminum casing with a directional pad, a menu button and a play/pause button, but you need to be familiar with the Apple navigation before you can really surf.

 

Since most of your favorite movies are already on the Internet, the Boxee is a device that will find them and show the performance on your TV.  Whether you want to rent from Netflix, view VUDU’s Hollywood blockbusters, or watch foreign films on MUDI, Boxee can stream them to your TV.  Some TV shows like BBC and MLB stream live, while other mainstream networks make their shows available shortly after the initial broadcast.

If you are into social sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, just connect with Boxee.  Just want to listen to music?  Boxee will connect you with Pandora. 

 

 

Enjoy cinematic movies with the Insignia NS-WBRDVD2 high-def 1080p Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi and backward compatibility with DVD’s and CD’s. This Smart Blu-ray player only plays Netflix, CinamaNow and Pandora. 

 

LG has several Internet connectable systems, including the LHB976 Network Blu-ray Home Theater System.  It's easy to set up with its Wireless Rear Speaker System and Wi-Fi Internet Connectivity.  With the LG Smart TV access you get thousands of movies, Apps, shows and online videos straight to your TV from your internet connection.

       

 

Panasonic has a complete series of progressive HD plasma televisions from 26 – 65”, which are internet capable.  The Viera® series has deep blacks with rich color reproduction.   Their newer 50” model is thinner for a better looking wall profile.  Panasonic has improved its internet connectivity and you can plug in a USB Wi-Fi adapter. 

Check out the Panasonic Blu-ray players, DMP-BD75 and the DMP-BD755, if you are looking for a new player These products support CinemaNow, Facebook, Hulu Plus, Napster, Netfix, Pandora, Skype and YouTube. 


The Philips HTS5506/F7  3D Blu-ray Home Theater System puts out 1000 Watts of surround sound with Dolby Pro Logic II, while displaying your favorite movies from Blockbuster, FilmFresh, Netflix and Vudu, as well as social networking and Internet radio.  Be captivated by 3D movies in your own living room on the Philips HD 3D TV.  With a 1080x 1920 resolution, you get real life depth and realism.  There are special glasses that are timed to open and close in sync with the alternating images. 

True cinema is projected at 24 frames per second, and the Philips Blu-ray players are equipped to bring you 24fps directly from your Blu-ray Discs.

The Pioneer BDP-430 3D Blu-ray player combines 3D playback, networking capability and superior audio with 1080p full high-def.  It will even convert regular DVD’s to near HD quality.   This model is compatible with both Netflix and Pandora.  If you are tired of slow start-up Blu-ray players, this model loads discs in a fraction of the time of the older players. 

Blu-ray has made watching movies an exciting adventure, but not all Blu-Ray players are equal in quality.  You’ll definitely want to check out this model.

Roku has three models, XD, HD and HD/S.  I suggest the HD or HD/S, both of which will handle 1080i.   The HD/S also has a USB port for playing stored photos, music, and videos Roku is a little box that allows you to instantly stream tons of entertainment on your TV.  Watch movies and TV shows from many sites, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and others.  Listen to music on Pandora or catch the latest ballgame.  Skip your computer as Roku connects to your Wi-Fi device. 

 

Samsung Smart Blu-ray Players allow you to easily search for movies and explore Samsung apps. You can also connect to your favorite digital content from Netflix or Blockbuster, TV shows from Hulu Plus, videos from YouTube, music from Pandora, and social updates from Facebook or Twitter.  This stylized designed Blu-ray player handles full HD 1080p and has built-in Wi-Fi.  Samsung also has a full line of televisions, including their UN46D7000 LED Smart TV with Wi-Fi and Skype built-in.  This model is one of the top selling TV’s.  

 


BRAVIA Internet Video and Widgets by Sony streams movies, videos, music and more, while BRAVIA Internet Widgets allow you to easily access local news, sports headlines, and Facebook.  BRAVIA Internet Video is built-in to select BRAVIA TVs, but the Dash™ Personal Internet Viewer, select Blu-ray Disc™ players or Sony's Network Media Player, the SMP-N100 will provide hours of entertainment through thirty-five different sources.  You can download widgets directly to your TV screen to quickly access news headlines, weather updates, or play games while you watch TV. See what your friends are up to and view their latest postings on Twitter®, Facebook® and Flickr® - all without interrupting your TV viewing experience.

The Western Digital TV live Hub is a Network HD Media Player with Hard Drive, enabling you to store and play personal and Internet media on your HDTV with full HD 1080p.  It has a built-in 1 TB WD network hard drive and a media server to stream Netflix and other premium content, such as Pandora to multiple rooms in your home.   It will also play content from a USB or network drive.  You can centralize your media and play it on any screen, as well as capturing your personal media on the high capacity, built-in network hard drive and stream it to any screen in the house.

7.1 surround sound, 1080p high-def video, wireless Internet with streaming movies, Dolby TrueHD processing are just some of the features of the Vizio VBR231 Blu-ray player.  Watch your favorite TV shows or listen to streaming music.  This model comes with a HDMI cable to connect the player to your sound system for multi-channel audio output.  Besides DVD and Blu-Ray discs, the Vizio plays MP3, JPEG files and audio CD’s. 

Let’s not forget Nitendo’s Wii, Sony’s PS3 and the Microsoft’s Xbox360, all of which handle Netflix.  Once you have a Netflix subscription, connect your Wii console to the Internet, download Netflix instant streaming for Wii from the Wii shop channel, and then connect the console to your account.  To watch Netflix on your PS3, connect to the Internet; sign up for a free PlayStation network account; go to network section of the XMB and select “What’s new;”  Click on the Netflix icon.   If you have the Xbox360, you will need an Xbox Live Gold membership, a 360 hard drive or a memory unit with at least 5 Mb of available space and a Netflix account with unlimited streaming.  Use your computer to activate. 

To use the Internet capabilities of any device, you must connect the device to the Internet.  Depending on the equipment, this can be done wirelessly, or with a wired Ethernet connection.   Even though the device has the capability of streaming movies and other Internet content, some services, such as Netflix, do have charges for their service, while others supply free movies.

An Internet enabled television is the simplest way to connect to the Internet without turning anything else on.   Yet, you may be joined to a content provider that has partnered with a particular device that you have to use.  If you upgrade or change devices, be sure that the content service is compatible with that device. 

In-Stat projects that by 2014 there will be over 230 million Internet enabled products in homes.  If Internet television is to work, all content providers will have to be compatible with all Internet ready devices.   What doors will open in the future?        


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