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Toshiba builds Yahoo! into more Internet-linked televisions

Toshiba on Wednesday unveiled new high-definition televisions featuring Yahoo! software that lets viewers watch content streamed from the Internet.

The flat-screen televisions were the Japanese company's first high-definition models embedded with "Connected TV" software and builds on a trend that surfaced nearly two years ago.

"Toshiba is dedicated to developing a brand of televisions that truly enrich the viewing experience," said Ron Smith, vice president of marketing at Toshiba America Information Systems digital products division.

"By partnering with Yahoo!, the proven leader in delivering compelling Internet content directly to TV screens, we are able to provide consumers with features that enable them to enjoy a variety of entertainment content directly from their remote."

Yahoo! and a host of major television makers at a premier Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January of 2009 introduced flat-panel sets that used the California firm's software "widgets" to link online.

"Yahoo! is reaching consumers wherever they view content... partnering with Toshiba enables us to deliver a rich variety of Internet content to the living rooms of millions more people," said Connected TV vice president Ron Jacoby.

Worldwide sales of Internet-enabled TVs are predicted to rise to more than 87 million units by 2013, according to Jacoby.

Software developers have created more than 65 Yahoo! TV Widgets that, combined, give users access to more than 50,000 movies and television shows on the Internet, according to the California firm.

Widgets also let people tend to online tasks such as updating Twitter or Facebook, or shopping at eBay, while watching television.

In May, Internet giant Google revealed a plan to expand its kingdom to the living room with an ambitious new service that lets people mesh television viewing with surfing the Web.

"Google TV," developed in partnership with technology titans Sony, Intel and Logitech, fuses the freedom of the Internet with television programming.

Google executives vowed their TV platform will succeed where offerings such as Apple TV have foundered.

Google TV, which is powered by Google's Android software and Chrome Web browser, can be accessed using upcoming Web-enabled televisions from Sony or set-top boxes from Logitech that route Web content to existing TV sets.

Sony and Logitech said the sets and boxes will be available in the United States in time for the year-end holiday shopping season and be rolled out internationally next year.