Most flat-panel TVs will be Web-enabled by 2016

Almost 85 percent of all flat-screen TVs made in 2016 will come with Internet access, according to a report from Gartner.

The flat-panel TV you buy in 2016 will almost certainly be a smart TV embedded with access to the Internet, says Gartner.

Production of flat-panel smart TVs will shoot up from 69 million this year to 108 million next year and 198 million in 2016.

So, what exactly is a smart TV?

Gartner defines it as one that lets you access and search the Internet for videos and other items. Such a TV may or may not come with its own dedicated Web browser, but it does provide an app store that lets you install a range of different apps. A smart TV also may offer you the option to connect with your smartphone, tablet, or PC.

"With connectivity to smartphones and tablets comes the ability to pull content from the Internet on one device and push that content to the TV," Gartner research analyst Paul O'Donovan said today in a statement. "For those TV manufacturers that also make smartphones and tablets, the marketing advantage of the smart TV makes educating the consumer a lot easier."

Smart TVs will increasingly play a dual role in offering Internet content as well as traditional TV broadcasts. But even in 2016, pay-TV services will still provide most of the premium shows, movies, sporting events, and other programming that won't be readily found on the Internet.

Yet with TV sales in a downspin these days, smart TVs alone won't convince consumers to shell out their hard-earned cash to buy one.

Instead, TV makers also need to think about the actual capabilities and the content being offered by their respective brands, according to Gartner.

"In the end, the choice may be all about the extra content that one TV brand offers over another," O'Donovan said. "Consumers will be asking questions such as, which Internet TV services can the TV access? Are these the sites I think are valuable? Can I use my smartphone or tablet with this TV?"

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