Sony'sTVs may dominate the market, but TV isn't the stable world it used to be. People watch more and more TV content on their computers, and new players like Apple(with its iTV) and Microsoft(with downloads sold over its XBox 360) are pushing into the space. So Sony's tactic is to make their TVs more like computers-- the 18 new Bravia TVs they launched today are all Internet enabled.
In July you'll be able to by a $299 Bravia Internet Video Link to hook up any of these computers to the internet. Then, you'll be able to channel surf beyond regular channels to channels of Yahoo Video, AOL Video, Grouper, and some other Sony content. Sony is effectively turning Internet Videos into TV channels, or what works like a TV channel when you're channel surfing.
One key difference from Apple's iTV -- you don't need a computer, and you don't pay once you have the little gadget-- there's no subscription fee. But, one potential problem is that Internet Video isn't very high quality (do you really need to see a grainy home video of someone's cat blown up on your 60-inch flatscreen?). That'll surely change with time as more ad dollars fund Internet video.
But right now Apple has some pretty high quality content on iTunes, and I have an Apple iTV which has remarkably simple user interface (hey, I can figure it out). So the big question is can Sony get the content and how easy is the user interface? We shall see. Either way, Sony's smart to make their latest TVs internet compatible, so you can buy one now and down the line hook up.
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