CES: 3D TV Overshadowed By Connected TV This Year

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Ask anyone who covered last year’s Consumer Electronics Show what its overarching theme was and most will tell you that 3D TV stole the spotlight.

A year later, and consumers have been slow to adopt 3D TV. There was plenty of 3D technology on display at this year’s show, ranging from TVs to computers to handheld devices, but most of the attention regarding TVs has shifted towards connected TV.

Most major manufacturers showed off some flavor of connected TV sets; several ran the new Google TV software, some ran the previously-established Yahoo Connected TV software, and others ran their own proprietary interfaces. While not all connected TV sets featured full web browsers like the one found on Google TV, most at least offered a pipeline to popular online video streaming services and onscreen widgets.

(More on TIME.com: New Remotes Will Make Netflix One Click Away)

When it comes to online video content, Netflix is king for now. Just about every connected TV device, whether they be auxiliary boxes, Blu-ray players, or TV sets with the connection hardware built in, featured access to Netflix’ popular streaming service and touted it as one of the main selling points.

While connected TV may not be for everyone just yet, it’ll likely eventually come standard on television sets similar to how any TV set purchased nowadays handles high definition. 3D TV will likely become a similarly-included feature as well, though I’d almost argue that widespread connected TV technology may make it to market sooner than widespread 3D TV.

(More on TIME.com: Sony Sticking By Google TV, 3D TVs)

For now, connected TV sets and related hardware devices command somewhat of a price premium (between $50 and $300 depending on the product) but the technology is relatively trivial to add and component prices will continue to drop over the coming years.

The biggest challenge for connected TV isn’t the hardware implementation or consumer adoption, it’s getting the TV and movie studios on board with the idea of connected TV. The most glaring example of how connected TV has been somewhat derailed is that most of the major TV studios have blocked Google TV’s web browser from accessing their streaming video sites.

(More on TIME.com: Earth to Google TV: The Big Networks Aren’t Coming Around)

As the price of connected TV devices falls and adoption increases, though, I’d expect the sheer number of users to appeal to the studios when it comes to potential advertising dollars. Ad rates for online video haven’t reached anywhere near ad rates for traditional broadcast TV but as more and more people explore alternative means for consuming entertainment content—specifically via connected TV—larger revenue streams for the studios will follow and they’ll eventually relax their stance on connected TV.

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