Sony to Pump Net Video Into TVs

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Las Vegas -- Starting this summer, Sony Electronics plans to pipe broadband video into the backs of its TV sets through a separately sold hardware attachment, the Bravia Internet Video Link, the company announced Sunday.

Initial content partners for the new device are Time Warner’s AOL, Yahoo! and the consumer-electronics company’s sister companies, Sony Pictures Entertainment -- including content from the Grouper user-generated video site -- and music label Sony BMG Music.

But the Bravia Internet Video Link, scheduled to become commercially available this summer, will work only with Sony’s newest TV models.

Sony said that in 2007, the majority of its new TVs will be able to connect to the module, which can stream standard-definition or HD video content over a broadband link with the “press of a remote-control button.” The first models to work with the Bravia Internet Video Link will be several Bravia flat-panel LCD TVs, set to ship this spring. Sony said the unit can be “concealed” unobtrusively at the back of a set.

“This initiative will not only enhance the entertainment experience for owners of Sony Internet video-ready HDTVs, but also reinforce our defining strategy of providing more personalization of products and content for consumers that no other company can offer,” Stan Glasgow, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said in a prepared statement.

Sony did not announce pricing for the Bravia Internet Video Link module, but TheWall Street Journal reported that it will cost less than $500.

At least at first, Sony's focus will be on short-form content, like music videos, movie trailers and user-generated video. The company said there would be no extra charge for content accessed through the device.

Using the TV’s remote, the Bravia Internet Video Link module lets viewers navigate to different “channels” to browse and play videos. They can also pause, fast-forward and rewind video using the TV's remote control.

The device’s on-screen interface is based on Sony's Xross Media Bar (XMB) technology, an icon-based user interface similar to that used by the PlayStation 3. It connects to the Internet via an Ethernet connection.

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