South Korea's Samsung and Japan's Sanyo are ready to bring the World Wide Web to television. The Internet-enabled televisions announced separately this week follow on the heels of Sharp's unveiling last week of a 32in Network Vision television. The companies are the early entries into a market that should heat up when a slew of other players, including Hitachi and Sony, roll out their Internet TVs in coming months, analysts say.
"Internet television is still in the experimental stages and will take about a year to catch on, but it is going to be big," says Masami Fujino, senior analyst at the Tokyo branch of Jardine Fleming Securities.
The PowerPC-based, 29in Samsung television will ship in Korea by the end of this year and will debut in the US market sometime next year, a spokesman says. Pricing has not been decided, but the Seoul-based company expects the unit will sell for about 25% more than a conventional 29in set, he says.
The unit will come with a 33.6Kbit/s modem and a Web browser developed by US-based Diba. It houses 4Mb of RAM, expandable to 16Mb, and 4Mb of ROM. The Samsung unit includes an on-screen keyboard and is bundled with an email application. Other features include a speaker phone for telephony through the set in addition to rapid-dial and calendar functions. An optional wireless keyboard will also be sold, he says.
The Sanyo television will be available in 21in and 28in models. It will be sold only in Japan. Sales elsewhere have not been decided, a spokesman says. Sanyo expects to sell 7000 of the 21in models and 3000 of the 28in models a month, he says.
Based on Hitachi's 32-bit SH-2 RISC processor, the Sanyo unit is bundled with a browser, developed in-house, that provides a front end to the Web dividing information into categories including news, education, entertainment and regional and industry information, he says. The software, stored on 2Mb of ROM, includes a search function and email application. Email messages are entered through an on-screen keyboard.