Sony's Dash Personal Internet Viewer will stream Netflix videos. Should the iPad be worried?

When the iPad was announced, I suggested that the tablet could be used in bed (or on your lap in general) as a personal movie viewer, but it does appear to offer a couple of limitations. First, you don't get a widescreen aspect ratio, and you may be limited to the iTunes monopoly for your video choices.

When the iPad was announced, I suggested that the tablet could be used in bed (or on your lap in general) as a personal movie viewer, but it does appear to offer a couple of limitations. First, you don't get a widescreen aspect ratio, and you may be limited to the iTunes monopoly for your video choices. (You may have heard 10 to 20 million times already that it doesn't support Flash—or Microsoft Silverlight—and any video service that uses one of those formats.)

Sony may have an interesting alternative in its Dash Personal Internet Viewer, which will be able to stream videos from Netflix's Watch Instantly online service (which uses Silverlight technology), the electronics giant announced today. The device is Wi-Fi-enabled and runs widgets based on the Chumby's platform as well as Sony's Bravia Internet Video platform. The best part may be its price: just $199.99 when it debuts in April.

Now the Dash isn't a direct competitor to the iPad. The unit houses only a 7-inch screen, which isn't LED backlit, but is in the 16:9 aspect ratio, and doesn't pretend to sport any kind of virtual keyboard. It also won't offer the type of flash storage the iPad will have, and there's no multi-touch interface to help generate an army of innovative apps. It does come with this thing called a USB port, so you can access your media from external drives, though it doesn't seem to provide any way to stream media from the PCs on your home network—a major drawback.

But if you don't want to pay the higher price for the iPad, and want a way to watch Netflix content anywhere in your house that lacks an HDTV, the Dash makes a lot of sense. Would you rather curl up with a more limited device like the Dash or the more full-featured iPad for personal video viewing? Let us know in the TalkBack section.

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