Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 18:00 UK

TV screens double up as browsers

Widget in Samsung TV
Widgets have been created for specific televisions

In recent years, television viewers have been regularly lured away from the small screen to their home computer monitors.

But video sites such as YouTube could be best enjoyed from a comfortable sofa rather than hunched over a computer.

The option to kick back and let the net come to the TV screen has been made possible by a range of devices from handheld games consoles using wi-fi to mobile phones.

Now a couple of TV manufacturers have built web functionality into some of their new TV sets - with an ethernet cable or wi-fi dongle replacing the more conventional aerial.

Limited access

Samsung partnered with Yahoo to offer its customers widgets which guide them to specially constructed mini sites for weather updates, headline news feeds and picture-sharing site Flickr.

These widgets have been specially developed for use with this service. In the pipeline are far more widgets that can handle such things as video streams.

The content itself is optimised for viewing on a TV and is selected via a simple scrolling interface accessed using the remote control.

Sony has followed a similar route with its AppliCast feature. This means that once an ethernet cable connects a TV to a phone line, data from the web can also be accessed via the remote control.

These TV sets are not equipped with full web browsers, as some sites involve lots of small writing that would be difficult to read from a distance.

Plugging the internet into a TV
Connecting a computer directly to a TV could offer a full browser

Plugging in

Anyone wanting a full browser experience on the small screen will have to get to grips with the inputs on the back of the set.

If an LCD or plasma screen boasts a VGA socket or S-Video port, then a computer's video output can be fed straight into the TV and effectively turn it into a computer monitor.

If there is an HDMI interface on both a computer and TV, this means HD video and audio can be pumped to the set, or a computer could be plugged in directly to use its browser.

Sony's PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii already have browsers and wi-fi, so getting online on the TV with them is straight forward.

However, using video games controllers to enter web addresses or search terms can be a slow and painful process. Though this can be speeded up by plugging in a USB keyboard.

A television set itself with a full browser is on it way in the not too distant future.

While some sites will still lend themselves to the computer screen, video streaming is expected to be right at home on the TV.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific