5 Technologies That Customize TV Viewing


Internet-enabled Television

In the last five years or so, the line between PC and TV has begun to blur. Google TV erases the line completely by turning a passive flat-screen into a dynamic -- and large -- Web browser.

You can get the service in two ways: by buying a stand-alone, Google TV-enabled television or a Google TV-enabled box that hooks up to your current television. For the sake of simplicity, we're highlighting the former setup.

Sony Internet Television bundles a high-definition television (HDTV) with a 1.2-gigahertz Intel processor to run the Google TV application. A 40-inch (102-centimeter) model retails for just under a thousand bucks. Simply connect the HDMI output of your set-top cable box to one of the TV's HDMI inputs and then access your home network, either through a wired Ethernet connection or through a wireless 802.11n router.

No subscription is required for Google TV, but you'll need to sign in to an existing Google account. Sony Internet TV comes with a wireless full qwerty remote that makes short work of typing in commands for searching TV listings, browsing the Web or launching an app from the expanding Android library. Watch a program from your cable service provider, launch a video from YouTube or catch a movie from Netflix or Hulu.

Luckily, your choices aren't mutually exclusive. With Sony Internet TV's Dual View feature, you can browse your favorite Web sites while you're watching a movie or the game. And there are personalization options aplenty. Bookmark TV channels, Web sites and apps so you can find the content you want quickly and easily. Your Android phone can even function as an additional remote control.

This very well may be the future of television, but for those who prefer to take baby steps instead of giant leaps, other options are available. We'll investigate one of them next.