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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, some 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. According to ABI, 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.

“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,” said industry analyst Michael Inouye

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

Consumers will get a wide variety of online content: news, weather, sport, material from Internet video sites, music, casual gaming, and social networking. However, a critical factor for the success of this new kind of entertainment is the position of the owners of that content.

“At the end of the day, if the content holders don’t let their content go to this platform in a timely manner, it’s just not going to get anywhere,” Mr. Inouye added.

Tags: HDTV, 802.11n

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