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January 7, 2009 2:47 PM

CES: Samsung + Yahoo = wow, plus new Blu-ray, thin TVs and SSD camcorder

Posted by Brier Dudley

LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft better get moving on that Yahoo deal -- the Web portal is announcing some big partnerships here at CES that could make YHOO more valuable.

Samsung just announced that its new line of TVs will come bundled with Yahoo's new "TV Widgets" platform. The initial applications display photos from Yahoo's Flickr photo service, reports from Yahoo News and Finance and information from eBay, with a streaming TV and movie download applications expected soon.

"This will make TV into something bigger, better and more exciting than ever before," Patrick Barry, Yahoo VP of Connected TV, said during his cameo at Samsung's press conference.

Samsung's the biggest TV maker now, but others such as Toshiba are also signing up for Yahoo's Web-on-the-TV software.

Samsung executives showed how the software will appear on a TV: as a ribbon across the bottom of the screen, where applications can be selected via remote control.

The software will appear on new sets with its new "Luxia" brand, which sounds a lot like the "Bravia" brand Sony has used on its TVs for several years. Samsung also displayed a new unified control interface for its TVs, cameras and other equipment that resembles Sony's crossbar.

(Internet stuff aside, the Luxia sets also have a nifty new built-in system for hanging them on a wall similar to the way pictures are mounted, so they protrude just 0.6 inches from the wall instead of the two or more inches needed with a standard wall mount).

Here's the top end Luxia LED 8000 from the side and the front:

LED8000_R90.jpg

LED8000-R45.jpg

Connecting the widgetized sets to the Internet is getting easier but there's still a ways to go: Samsung noted that it's supporting new standards such as Wireless HD and Wireless USB, but the best way to connect its 2009 sets appears to be via its new Blu-ray players announced today.

Especially the BD-P4600, a 1.5-thick player that can be connected to home Wifi networks (including 802.11n) via an optional dongle.

The player's niftiest trick may be its superfast ejection system -- the slot drive can spit out a disc in one second. I wonder if the discs will fly across the room. The player:

BD-P4600(25degree angle).jpg

Samsung also showed a Blu-ray player combined with a soundbar home theater speaker system. It includes a wireless subwoofer, plus the ability to play content from other devices via Bluetooth or home networks:

BD8200_R45.jpg

Also cool was the company's new HMX-H106 camcorder, which uses a 64 gigabyte solid-state drive. It captures high-definition video and 4.7 megapixel stills:

HMX H106 (10).jpg

The company also introduced an inch-thick plasma display and a 22-inch monitor aimed at gamers, with the capability of displaying 3-D images with the addition of 3-D glasses and an emitter device.

"Even in these tough times people are investing in family ... and home entertainment,'' said Tim Baxter, Samsung's executive vice president of sales in the U.S., who added that "we are meeting the evolving consumer demand for accessing content."

Update, 5:21 p.m.: Other electronics companiew using Yahoo's software announced today include LG, Sony and Vizio.

Content and Web companies developing the onscreen widgets include CBS, MySpace, The New York Times, Amazon.com, Netflix, Blockbuster and Twitter,

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.