RWW just published a short article on “Connected TVs,” and I thought I would share my thoughts.
I think the “idea” has great promise, but I am not sure baking this functionality directly into the TV hardware is the best approach.
I think I might prefer it included in a small dedicated device (essentially a computer with only a small OS, a browser, and something to integrate with your TV) or another popular electronic device (like a video-game system - more on this later!).
I do agree, however, with RWW’s assessment that people do not want to browse the Web on their TV - and that whatever is done, it needs to be closely integrated with what people most use their TVs to do. (Most people would prefer to browse the Web from their own personal laptop or desktop - instead of using the house TV set - where the screen may be shared among a bunch of people and/or be too far away to reliably see content.)
BUT, I do see an increasing number of people wanting to enjoy the growing amount of multimedia on the Web - from YouTube videos, to Netflix, to Hulu, to niche video sites - from a larger screen.
Like many, I am sure, my wife and I opted out of our cable service a few months back, deciding to instead just hook up our computer to our TV and watch our favorite programs online.
Having a TV (or other small dedicated device) that includes this functionality by default without involving S-Video cables, audio/video splitters, and/or a trip to Radio Shack would be great!
(*Especially considering the hassle of trying to change programming using a traditional laptop/desktop. Without a presentation-style mouse, it’s nearly impossible - and those cost almost $100 by themselves.)
The ideal would be something you could just point at the screen, e.g. to switch from the latest episode of 24 on Hulu to that Netflix movie you have been watching about the Golden Gate Bridge.
That is one reason I was really bummed when I found out that the Internet Service you can purchase for $5 for the Wii does not allow viewing of video content. (Their Safari-based browser lacks the necessary plugins, whether based on a lack of interest or a conscientious choice.)
This would have been an extremely nice feature to have with the Wii and would have boosted its usefulness considerably for me.
Not only would this allow me to play Tennis on the Wii - then switch over to an episode of the Rockford files on Hulu - using just my Wii remote (That would have been cool!) . . . it would also hold the promise of opening up the WWW to a whole new group of people.
I know my 75 year old Mother-in-law has become comfortable with visiting the sites of her favorite Christian pastors online to watch videos of their sermons - at least since her son set her up with the proper bookmarks in her browser.
But, this sort of thing would be so much easier using a small software/hardware device and something similar to a Wii remote - or even a traditional remote that could be “pre-programmed” somehow with the content she enjoyed, e.g. news, weather, or video/audio offerred through various other venues.
My wife and I also use our TV to listen to music from sites like Pandora, using just a standard RCA to stereo cable, but this would be so much easier again using a dedicated device.
So . . . I guess we will see: If “Connected TVs” offer enough of the services people want (Hulu, Netflix, weather news) in a completely integrated package - I can definitely see them working.
But, I hope others also explore an inexpensive “add on” device (say $99) that worked seamlessly with my existing TV/cable/gaming set up - and still added the basic Web browsing features I wanted.
If this could work with standard TV set, rather than having to purchase HDTV or other high-end set, that would be even better.
I know personally that even with dropping prices I do not anticipate spending money on a LCD or Plasma Screen TV, given the amount of time we watch television.