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Internet-Ready HDTVs: Help Guide

How Do Internet-Ready TVs Work?

Internet-ready TVs are essentially just what they sound like—televisions enhanced with Internet content. These televisions connect to your home network via a wired or wireless connection to your router.

Manufacturers offer bundled Internet services with different content from third-party companies, much of it free, some of it per view or subscription-based.

Each manufacturer offers its own range of services. There is a substantial amount of overlap and services are expanding rapidly as the technology advances.

Generally, this pared-down Internet content is simple enough to be navigated with a remote control, but some companies offer more comprehensive means.

Much of the content comprises simple widget applications and can be enjoyed simultaneously with your TV viewing—say, checking up on a news feed or stock ticker.

Services continue to grow day by day and thanks to firmware updates, take you along for the ride.

Let's learn a bit more about the technology...

Connecting to Your Home Network

Internet-ready TVs are equipped with Ethernet ports for connecting to your home network. A wired connection requires the following:

1. A broadband Internet connection (with modem provided by your ISP)

2. A router connected to your modem

3. An Ethernet cable for connecting the television

Many models offer a wireless connection, whether it's through built-in hardware or an additional device. You'll need a router with Wi-Fi to connect wirelessly.

Internet TV Content

Content varies depending on manufacturers and models, but services include access to streaming video and music, social networking tools, online photo galleries, news updates, stock tickers, weather information, sports scores, and a variety of smartphone-like applications.

Although several applications provide a fully interactive experience—updating your status on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, for example—these devices do not feature full-fledged Internet browsers. You are limited to the applications offered as part of the manufacturer's service.

Range of Services has created a chart outlining the services offered by some of the main Internet TV manufacturers. Click here to view.

Note that since Internet TV is a relatively young technology, manufacturers are adding new offerings every day. Refer to manufacturer websites for the most up-to-date information on their services.

Navigating Services

You can access Internet services on your TV the same way you might navigate a menu or change system settings using the included remote control.

Some manufacturers' models feature software keyboards for entering characters (e.g., for a Twitter status update). Others have more comprehensive hardware offerings. For example, VIZIO provides a QWERTY-keyboard-equipped remote with several of its models, and certain Panasonic models allow you to attach a USB computer keyboard.

Access Content While Viewing TV

Many of the Internet services out there take up a full screen--streaming video, for example. But many applications, such as news or stock tickers, can be displayed while you enjoy normal television programming. This will depend upon the model/manufacturer and which service you're accessing.

Firmware Updates

Companies are adding new content to their services at breakneck speed. An advantage of modern electronics is the ability for manufacturers to update device firmware. This means that as they offer new services, firmware updates may be provided, so you won't be left behind.