Samsung TVs Go Online

At Samsung’s annual “Christmas in July” press event in New York City on Wednesday, the company showed off cool stuff like their 3D-capable plasma and DLP rear projection televisions, but the item that caught my eye was the “touch of color” LCD HDTVs with Samsung’s “Infolink” feature. This function is built in as a standard feature in all Series 6 and higher models, and uses an RSS feed to display content from the Internet on your TV screen.

Samsung's new LCD HDTVs can put Internet content on the screen as overlays. (Thanks to Ken Werner for sharing this photo.)

You can put news, weather, financial information and more on your screen in translucent boxes that appear on top of the content behind. You can choose the arrangement and content of the boxes, and interact with them using the TV remote to get more detail if you want. A press of a button will make the overlay appear or disappear in an instant. And the best part of this is that it’s free. Infolink is a standard feature in these sets — unlike the extra cost option on some Sony sets — and if you have a home network that can access the Internet, all you have to do is connect your TV to the network.

For now, all the data is fed by a custom service from USA Today, so this is a “walled garden” service that does not let you browse everywhere on the Internet. However, a Samsung representative said that they are exploring other possible data partners.

So it’s quick, easy, and free. That’s enough for me. I certainly hope for more versatility in the future, but this is a great first step at bringing the wealth of the Internet to TV viewers.