One hot trend this year is clearly going to be Internet connections on devices we already have in our living room, thus obviating the need for separate boxes like the Apple TV, Roku's Netflix box, and Vudu (all of which, no surprise, have sold very modestly). LG already announced earlier this week that it will start selling TVs that connect directly to Netflix's streaming-on-demand service and today it revealed specific details.
As CNET News reports, LG will ship a 47" and 42" LCD TV, as well as a new line of Plasmas, that come with the Netflix connection. And in addition to allowing subscribers to the DVD-by-mail service stream movies, owners can also access YouTube videos and pretty much everything that Yahoo offers. In not-as-thrilling news, however, the TVs won't come with build-in wireless. That means if you don't have an Ethernet connection in your living room, you'll have to use a wireless bridge and set it up via the TV. I can tell you from experience it's no easy task doing that with most consumer electronic devices. And if I can't do it as a tech journalist, it's definitely not easy for the average consumer.
In addition to TVs, CNET reports that LG is launching a Blu-ray player with Netflix compatibility. Hi-def movies and on-demand streaming in one device sounds like a very appealing combo.
These products are, in many ways, building on Sony's launch last year of Bravia TVs with an Internet connection. Except streaming movies from Netflix is a much more appealing service than Sony's more limited Internet offerings (AOL Video! Woo-hoo!), which is probably why we haven't heard much about the Bravia Internet connection since then.
Given that Microsoft has apparently been finding some success with the Netflix streaming option it launched on Xbox 360s in November (I expect we'll hear about it at the company's opening keynote tonight), we'll probably see more and more devices with Netflix and other connections built in. Perhaps 2009 really will be the year when the Internet invades the living room.
Update: Add Viziio to the list of partners with TVs that connect to the Internet and let Netflix subscribers stream movies. I'll suspect we'll hear even more partners before the week is out.