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A Game-Changer: Wireless Networked TV

As part of the continuing trend towards networked home entertainment, television sets will increasingly include wired or wireless connections to online content. A new study from ABI Research forecasts that in 2011, about 20 million TVs offering wireless connectivity will be shipped worldwide.

This segment is expected to show linear growth through the study's forecast horizon of 2014. Network connectivity does already exist in high-end models, and networked TVs are already quite widespread in Japan (the recognized leading market).

According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, "North America, Western Europe, and select Asian countries are seen as the next growth markets, and the 2009 holiday season and 2010 will be the watershed periods when vendors will see whether networked TV should trickle down to mainstream models and really take off there."

Ethernet will handle the wired type of connection in most cases, but will wireless technology prevail? If it does, the most likely candidate is Wi-Fi, although it's true that 802.11b and 802.11g may suffer some latency and interference problems. 802.11n Wi-Fi should provide a fully capable connection, and its growing adoption will improve support for networked TVs.

Many current TV models are nearly capable of being networked, at least for basic functions. Basic networking often only entails additional memory, Ethernet support at the chip level (and active port), and software -- the hardware component being relatively inexpensive.

What will consumers get with a networked TV? A wide variety of online content to choose from -- including news, weather, sport, material from Internet video sites, music, casual gaming, and social networking.

Any broadcast or cable TV network executive that still believes they will have a captive audience is clearly delusional. The trend is undeniable, independent over-the-top video will gain market share at the expense of traditional media.

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