The Consumer Electronics Show, which begins today in Las Vegas, will spotlight a growing number of services that bring movies directly to your television. Here are some leaders:
Netflix: Don't wait for movies to come through the mail—a box to be built by LG will download movies from Netflix's Watch Now service. Previously, Watch Now users had to connect a PC to their television. Netflix said the new LG device should be ready by the second half of the year and will be joined by devices from other electronics makers. The box's price is yet to be announced, but the movies and TV shows should be available at no added cost to Netflix subscribers.
Archos TV+: A combination digital video recorder (think TiVo) that can capture VGA-quality renderings of TV shows. It also connects to a PC to transfer flicks and tunes stored there. Plus, it links directly to an Archos Internet portal for buying and renting movies and TV shows from a variety of providers, including CinemaNow and several with French accents, reflecting Archos's roots. Starting at $250.
D-Link MediaLounge: The latest version of D-Link's media players is designed to work with the Media Center software in Windows Vista. It's one of a new class of Media Center "extenders" featured this year that can stream HD-quality video and audio from a PC to a television. The Media Center software can tap Internet video, including YouTube and Vongo, a downloadable movie service from the Starz cable network. D-Link has not yet announced a price.
HP MediaSmart: Hewlett-Packard was one of the first companies to boldly connect TVs directly to the Internet with its MediaSmart line last year. HP is sticking with the effort, introducing new TVs that include a built-in connection to Windows Media Center, starting at $1,800 for a 42-inch model. The connection allows streaming of video and audio stored on a PC running Windows Media Center. HP is also pulling the capability out of the set into a separate box, MediaSmart Receiver, whose price hasn't been announced.
XStreamHD: Top-quality video and audio will arrive via satellite transmissions to a device that sits next to the TV. The company can deliver "full HD," or 1080p resolution with no compression, which it says will outshine the offerings from satellite TV and cable companies. The service will sell and rent movies and TV shows at competitive prices and sell the box for a price it says will be competitive with high-definition DVD players. Available late this year.