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Sanyo puts Net access in TVs

The Sanyo Internet television has built-in Net technology that eliminates the need for a separate Internet connection device.

Sanyo Electric's Internet television has swallowed the set-top box.

The Sanyo Internet television, which will be introduced at Comdex next week, puts Internet technology inside the television, eliminating the need for a separate Internet connection device and possibly presaging a standard feature on upcoming TVs.

Essentially, the Sanyo TV integrates what companies such as WebTV offer as separate set-top products for existing TVs. Sanyo also aims to enhance the TV experience by delivering information organized into different categories such as entertainment, news, sports, home, or business through the NetChannel service.

Capitalizing on the online enhancement might be an effective way to market these Internet televisions, according to Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research.

As with VCRs, Bernoff said that people look to expand their TV's capabilities, but for the most part, people will not be interested in buying these devices in place of a personal computer.

"When WebTV came out, you could look at text and graphics and that is not a very compelling application by itself. But think of it as an interactive enhancement for your television, and people will be interested in buying things that make their TVs more interesting," he added.

NetChannel can be used for Internet access, as well as sending and receiving email. However, users will not be able to watch TV programs and surf the Net simultaneously.

The second-generation Sanyo Internet television provides Net access through a standard telephone line, while faster connection speeds are offered through an optional ISDN hookup.

The TV features 800-by-480-pixel resolution on a 32-inch screen. A wireless keyboard is also available as an option, endowing it with PC-like features.

NetChannel relies on programming partners such as A&E, CBS Sportsline, and Warner Bros. to provide online TV content.

Previously, the service was only available through the RCA Network Computer, which runs on Oracle technology. RCA's devices are similar in concept to WebTV's Internet terminals and other Net boxes.