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Poll: Smart TV or dumb monitor?

TVs that integrate Internet features, search, and apps are becoming more common. Do you want one?

The first mainstream TVs with built-in Internet connectivity appeared a couple of years ago, such as Samsung's LNA650 series. Here's a section from that review:

"New for 2008, the 650 series also includes an Ethernet port, which allows the TV to access the Internet to display news, stock ticker information, and local weather. USA Today provides the news feed, which can sit in the corner of the screen like a ticker (turn "Desperate Housewives" into Fox News!), or be expanded to allow you to read numerous top stories in a variety of topics."

We've come a long way, baby. Today's Internet-connected TVs integrate streaming video from YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Vudu, and Hulu Plus; audio from Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster and NPR; and photos from Picasa and Flickr. They also deliver weather, traffic, maps, fantasy football, Facebook, Twitter, and even rudimentary games that are designed to be played with one thumb and your TV's remote.

Those remotes can have touch screens or full QWERTY keyboards. The TVs may have Wi-Fi and may stream content not just from the Internet but also from your own PC via a network or directly from a connected hard drive. Samsung has an apps store for its TVs, complete with a call for developers to create apps, and Vizio calls its Internet service by the same Apple-inspired name.

Tomorrow's TVs will include Google TV's integrated search, program guide, DVR/cable box control, and access to the Android Marketplace--the first due from Sony (photos) before the end of 2010. Samsung could follow suit by building a TV with Android, and I won't be surprised when the Apple logo appears on a TV someday.

But do you want all that stuff built-in? External boxes--including DVRs, Blu-ray players, game consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360; dedicated streamers like Roku, Boxee, Apple TV and Logitech's Google TV-enabled Revue (also due before the end of 2010)l and, yes, even actual PCs--all offer similar if not improved functionality. They cost a lot less than a TV to replace or upgrade when something new comes along.

All of which makes us wonder which one is for you? Feel free to augment your vote with a comment.

Thanks to commenter Norseman for the inspiration.