CES 2009: Intel recruits Comcast, Samsung, Toshiba for its Widget Channel Internet TV initiative

Summary:While Yahoo has been grabbing headlines this week with its partnerships with TV makers like Samsung and Vizio to bring its Internet TV widget platform to new sets, Intel wants to make sure people remember that it also introduced the underlying API with Yahoo last fall at the Intel Developers Forum. Its strategy rests more (though not completely) on getting its Widget Channel platform into new set-top boxes, and it has a few partners of its own readying products.

While Yahoo has been grabbing headlines this week with its partnerships with TV makers like Samsung and Vizio to bring its Internet TV widget platform to new sets, Intel wants to make sure people remember that it also introduced the underlying API with Yahoo last fall at the Intel Developers Forum. Its strategy rests more (though not completely) on getting its Widget Channel platform into new set-top boxes, and it has a few partners of its own readying products.

Of course, part of that strategy has to do with the fact that Intel has built its Media Processor CE 3100 to power the Widget Channel, and this system-on-a-chip framework is certainly set-top-box friendly. Covering all its widget bases, Samsung has announced a forthcoming device that not only uses Intel's chip to run Widget Channel apps, but also comes stacked with three high-def DVR tuners and a built-in cable modem. Toshiba has also signed on to develop set-top boxes, along with LCD TVs and a LCD TV/DVD combo units that support Widget Channel. The company plans to introduce these products in the second half of the year. Also on display at Intel's booth is a set-top box made by Gigabyte, and a prototype Blu-ray player with Widget Channel integration. Universal is one studio interested in adding widgets to its Blu-ray titles, showing off one for its latest Mummy disc, and Disney is also intrigued, according to Intel reps. Comcast is also working on a set-top box that uses tru2way interactive technology to add the Widget Channel to the cable giant's interactive programming guide.

On the content front, Intel has developed a MyMedia widget that lets you access your media files from devices on your home network. It's also working with Adobe to optimize the Media Processor CE 3100 for Flash support, In my discussions with Intel this morning, the company suggested that its widget efforts are heading toward more complex applications than what Yahoo has brought to the new TVs, obviously relying on its processor's enhanced capabilities. Whether consumers will clamor for more powerful apps or just be satisfied with seeing some news headlines and sports scores on their screen while they're watching their favorite shows remains to be seen, but the widget approach definitely seems to be gaining momentum, so your next set could tap into the Internet in a way that hasn't been possible before.

Topics: Hardware, Intel, Mobility, Samsung, Toshiba

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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