Yahoo Comes to High-def TV Screens in Japan

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Japanese TV viewers could soon find something extra alongside the high-definition television channels on their sets' menus: a made-for-TV version of the Yahoo Japan portal.

Yahoo Japan is about to launch a version of its Web portal formatted for display at 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels, which is the resolution of high-def TV screens. The service will initially be available through Internet-capable televisions from Sharp and was demonstrated earlier this week at a Tokyo news conference.

The "Yahoo Japan for Aquos" service is more than just a reformatted version of the main Internet site. The front page shown at the demonstration looks a lot like Yahoo did in its early days. Under the Yahoo logo, there are 12 subjects to choose from and no advertising.

The initial menu selections offer access to Yahoo's news, weather, maps, cooking, photos, movie information, travel, games, picture books and search services, plus versions of the Yahoo Shopping and Auctions sites. The site has been designed so that it is easy to navigate using a TV remote control.

The service starts on May 29 and is only available in Japan.

Higher-end television sets in Japan have for several years featured the ability to connect to the Internet. Through the network link, many manufacturers offer firmware updates and usually a Web-browsing function. The experience is sometimes less than satisfactory, due to most Web sites being designed for access by computers with higher-resolution monitors or more powerful processors.

Sharp is one of six major TV makers that have jointly launched a TV portal service called AcTVila. The portal has information services, access to a popular blog service and a premium video-on-demand feature that includes high-def programming.

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