Hewlett Packard is now shipping the first of its network-ready MediaSmart TVs, which were first announced at January's Consumer Electronics Show. What sets the MediaSmart apart from a run-of-the-mill flat-panel TV is its built-in full-service network media player. Using the integrated Ethernet or 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi connection, the MediaSmart can stream an impressive collection of digital audio (MP3, WMA, WMA-Pro, WAV), video (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, AVI, WMV, WMV-HD), and photo (JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG) files from a PC that's also on your home network, or (in some cases) straight off the Internet. It's compatible with Windows Media Connect and UPnP standards, so setup--with Windows PCs, at least--should be a breeze, and PlaysForSure certification ensures compatibility with a wide range of premium audio and video services. HP also highlights the MediaSmart's compatibility with Rhapsody, Live365 radio, and HP's own Snapfish photo service.
Thankfully, HP didn't scrimp on the TV features, either: the 37-inch flat-panel LCD boasts a 1,366x768 resolution, a built-in ATSC/QAM HD tuner, and the A/V connectivity is highlighted by a single HDMI and two component inputs. But a quick comparison to the MediaSmart's non-networked doppelganger--the extremely similar $1,700--shows that you're paying a $1,000 premium for the cool network functions of the MediaSmart version. Is it worth $2,700? We'll let you know as soon as we get our hands on one.