Although, it seems, a majority of new flatpanel TVs come with Ethernet ports alongside video and audio socketry, that's not the case. ABI Research states that only 19% on screens shipped in 2010 will be capable of connecting to the Internet. However, it does predict that the number of net-ready sets shipped globally will rise to 46% in the next 3 years. Connectivity will become a mainstream feature.

Industry analyst, Michael Inouye, told DigiTimes that the Internet helps give manufacturers, such as Samsung and Sony - two big movers in the world of web widgets - more say in content delivery, including advertising: "TV makers no longer want to build dumb screens", he said. "Rather than simply selling boxes, TV makers themselves could try to secure part of the revenue generated by ads their devices present".

It is a trade-off, for the customer, for additional means to connect with their tellies: "New features will include media guides/browsing, Web browsing, and more tightly integrated social and information-based datasets", he said.

Of course, anybody who's bought or seen one of the latest flatpanels from Samsung, for example, with its app store and LoveFilm movie rental tie-in will be less impressed by Inouye's predictions. But he does fear that the manufacturers' traditional practice of surging ahead with proprietary systems, rather than standardisation, may prevent net-readiness becoming more mainstream: "This market is very fluid and uncertain, and with so many parties vying for a piece of the action, that fluidity may persist for years", he said. And, in that, he may well have a point after all.