Once the home’s clear entertainment leader, the humble TV has recently bowed before more interactive devices like smartphones, laptops and gaming systems. But these recent enhancements promise to help it regain its crown, and completely redefine how we view today’s top sets.
Between Internet-accessible platforms like Google TV and Yahoo Connected TV and app-enabled televisions by Samsung and Vizio, countless options from streaming media to social networking can now be enjoyed without leaving the couch. New WiFi-ready sets, Blu-ray players, media extenders, game consoles and home theaters also let you grab music, news and tweets on-demand, or share photos and Facebook updates, turning televisions into one-stop multimedia hubs.
Motion and Hands-Free Controls
LG’s motion sensing Magic Wand remote, which translates physical gestures into on-screen cursor movements, promises to bring a new dimension to flipping stations. Sony’s movement-tracking PlayStation Move controller further lets interactive entertainment fans literally get in the game. But Microsoft’s Kinect goes a step further, ditching handheld accessories completely and letting you listen to Last.fm or queue up ESPN with your voice or bare hand. Softkinetic’s iisu technology even purports to make swapping channels or browsing on-screen tunes and photos as easy as flicking a wrist.
Using free video calling program Skype and custom webcams, sets by LG and Panasonic can let you make like George Jetson and casually videoconference with pals thousands of miles away -- in high-definition, even. Or you can sell a kidney and virtually invade friends’ and family’s living rooms using Cisco’s Umi teleconferencing solution, which connects to existing HDTVs, for the not so low price of $599, plus $24.99/month.