Update 08-11-09: Check out our in-depth looks at the Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo Video, Yahoo Sports, USA Today Sports and games widget reviews.
The variation of Yahoo Widgets designed specifically for TVs debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show last January. Not to be confused with its PC-centric incarnation, the TV-only widget feature will be available on certain HDTVs from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio shipping this year. The first widget-equipped sets to hit store shelves are members of Samsung's UNB7000 series, and this hands-on review was performed on a UN46B7000--although we expect the widget experience to be similar across brands.
What is a widget? It's basically a gateway on your TV screen to Internet-supplied content in a certain subject area. All TVs with Yahoo Widgets can connect to the Internet, and via that connection can populate the widgets with real-time information and updates. At the time of this review there are only four widgets, all of them available as soon as we turned on the TV, connected the Ethernet cable, and hit a button to activate the feature. The four, namely News, Weather, Finance, and Flickr, were all created by Yahoo.
In the coming weeks and months, more TV widgets will become available. According to Yahoo, more than 300 publishers "are interested in developing" widgets, from individuals to large content publishers, and the company expects TV widgets from Accedo Games, Twitter, Yahoo! Video, eBay, USA Today, Yahoo! Sports, Showtime, CBS Entertainment (CNET Reviews is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS), The New York Times, YouTube, CinemaNow and others. Publishers that have announced plans to develop TV Widgets include Disney/ABC, MySpace, Viacom/MTV, Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, Associated Press, and Joost. Yahoo estimates at least 100 widgets will be available by the end of the year, and its TV widgets website teases with some of the big names, like Netflix, whose description reads: "Browse, find and enjoy great movies with the Netflix widget--a personalized, convenient way to rent and watch movies on your TV."
We also expect advertising to appear on the system eventually, which could make the user experience less consumer-friendly. Yahoo says that "some publishers may choose to monetize their content by the end of 2009," and that the widget engine works with Web-compliant advertising system to enable Yahoo and third parties to advertise. For now, however, the widgets are blessedly ad-free. … Read more