A new study from ABI Research “Internet and Web-Enabled HDTVs” forecasts some 20 million TVs offering wireless connectivity will be shipped worldwide in 2011. Network connectivity does already exist in high-end models, and networked TVs are already quite widespread in Japan, according to ABI analyst Michael Inouye.

“North America, Western Europe and select Asian countries are seen as the next growth markets, and the 2009 holiday season and 2010 will be the watershed periods when vendors will see whether networked TV should trickle down to mainstream models and really take off there,” said Inouye in a prepared statement.

The report finds that Ethernet will handle the wired type of connection in most cases, but for wireless, the most likely candidate is WiFi. Although 802.11b and 802.11g may suffer some latency and interference problems, 802.11n WiFi should provide a fully capable connection, and its growing adoption will improve support for networked TVs. (For more on 802.11n, click here).

“Many current TV models are nearly capable of being networked, at least for basic functions,” said Inouye. “Basic networking often only entails additional memory, Ethernet support at the chip level (and active port), and software – the hardware component being relatively inexpensive.”

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