At CES 2006, Sony delighted us with the Reader, a silicon sylph that displays electronic books. It still isn't available in the UK, and we still don't know when or even if it will be, but it remains high on our wishlist.
This year we were hoping for something just as innovative, but instead we got the Bravia Internet Video Link. It's a box, basically (bottom photo). Specifically, it's a box that attaches to the back of Sony's forthcoming S-series Bravia LCDs, enabling you to connect your new television directly to the Internet, via an Ethernet connection. You can then stream videos from Sony's partners -- currently AOL, Yahoo and video-sharing site Grouper -- along with movie trailers from Sony Pictures Entertainment and music videos from Sony BMG Music. You'll also be able to get useful information such as weather forecasts and traffic updates via RSS.
So it's the Internet, on your TV, with no need for a PC. Except it's not the Internet, it's just on-demand video from selected providers. And it's not on your current TV, because it only works with the new models. And let's be honest, you do have a computer, and it isn't hard to connect a PC to a modern LCD or plasma, so you could quite easily have the actual Internet on your actual TV.
If you slapped us around with a remote control and forced us to say something nice, we might point out that the Xross Media Bar user interface (top photo) looks quite cool. You scroll across to select the type of service you want, then up or down to select the service provider. And the content is all free, once you've paid for an Internet connection.
The price of the box is yet to be determined and compatible televisions won't go on sale until the spring, so you won't be installing the Bravia Internet Video Link any time soon -- and we won't be installing it at all, because we can think of better things to watch on our hi-def tellies than movie trailers and user-generated video clips.
Just give us the Reader, Sony, and we'll sit quietly in the corner with a book. -ML