TVs aren't supposed to be clever. They're supposed to sit quietly in your lounge showing reruns of Emmerdale, but HP in its infinite wisdom has decided to increase their IQ exponentially by releasing what it calls the HP MediaSmart TV -- a real boffin of a telly.
What makes it so smart is networking capabilities. The MediaSmart TV is fitted with 801.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi adaptors and Ethernet ports, which means it can act as a Media Center Extender for Windows Vista. In essence, this means it can show movies that are stored on your PC. It's a BitTorrent copyright thief's dream come true -- all those hi-def flicks that are clogging up your hard drive can now be enjoyed in the living room without the hassle of wires. No doubt people will also come up with legitimate uses in due course.
The MediaSmart TV can access video, audio and photos in a variety of formats including DivX, WMV, MPEG-2, MP3, WMA, JPEG, BMP and others. Don't worry if you don't have a Media Center PC, because it'll happily stream media directly from the Internet via a range of online services including Real Rhapsody, CinemaNow, SnapFish and Live365 Radio -- although bear in mind that not all of these will be available to UK users.
The new MediaSmart TV is available in 37-, 42- and 47-inch guises. HP says they all use either 6ms or 8ms panels, have a 1,200:1 contrast radio and offer ambient light adjustment. On the whole, we like what we've seen of them -- we reckon all TVs should have the same capabilities. They're all available now, priced from $1,699 (£850). -RR