Gaming: No console required. New smart TVs from LG and Samsung integrate gaming apps right into the set, making stand-alone consoles ― which often run more than $200 ― an optional accessory.
LG announced just this morning (Nov. 15) that its models with the wordy name "Smart TV with Google TV" now offer access to OnLive, a streaming game service. (The TVs start at $1,770 for the 42-inch-screen version.) OnLive's catalog has more than 200 games, including such popular titles as "Assassin's Creed Revelations" and "Sleeping Dogs – Digital Edition."
LG appears to be leading the console-free charge. In addition to the games through its Google TV models, LG offers Game World through its Cinema 3D Smart TVs. There you'll find more than 80 games. Game World offers popular titles that started on mobiles, such as "Cut the Rope" and "Plants vs. Zombies." It even has some 3D-enabled games, including "Air Penguin." You play the games through LG's Magic Remote, a motion-sensitive device similar to Nintendo's Wii controller.
Samsung is in on the game, too, offering EA's "Monopoly" and the "Game of Life," as well as Rovio's " Angry Birds " — which takes advantage of gesture control offered on Samsung 8000 and 7550 series models. Similar to Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox, the Samsung TVs integrate a camera to detect your hand movements.
You don't have to buy a smart TV to get online games without a console. Set-top boxes got game, too. Vizio's Co-Star, a Google TV box that sells for $100, offers an OnLive app. The $100 Roku 2 XS ships with "Angry Birds," which you play through the remote. [See Also: What Is Cloud Gaming? ]
Part of the appeal of OnLive is that you can start a game on one device and continue it on another. The service works on Windows, Mac OS, iPads and some Android tablets, including the Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1. OnLive generated excitement on its launch in March 2009, then declared bankruptcy this year and relaunched as a new company with the same name.