Applications for TV versus PC

The Recent announcement of Connected TVs is quite an interesting view into the TV business of today. The CE manufacturers are packing computer-like features into their TVs with the hope to boost TV sales. If you were to rationalise and reflect on past CE exploits in this field, you would realise that it would make more sense for them to offer a “Media Centre” bundled with a Flat screen. Secondary TVs ( the multi-room route) would be connected by WiFi or Powerline as slave devices. The sensible aspect to this strategy would be that the upgrade, addition of memory and external hard drives/peripherals etc. would then be possible. The cost of technical support of such packed Connected TVs is an interesting discussion never broached. who do you call when you no longer have access to the things you want?

An android powered TV has been shown in the press with Googlemaps etc. Googlemaps or any other (they are not exclusive in this application) is only useful if you can then print to a wireless printer as 90% of map searches results in a paper map so you can take it in the car. No not everyone has a GPS for coordinate input before all you tekkies shout out.

Granted, video related applications are good and give choice. But what if your Internet goes down (and it does) do you still get TV? Do you still get good content available? There seems to be a blinkered view that we all have always on, sufficient bandwidth Internet. This is not a given. Many people have given up on Open Internet connected sites such as YouTube because like the Internet of old they don’t accept waiting in front of a blank screen that announces “buffering, buffering”. If you have no issues you are a member of the privileged few.

IPTV is only 6% of all PayTV subscriptions whereas Satellite, Cable and Terrestrial make up other the 96%. We should see by this that Broadcast is still a dominant force in the delivery of TV programming. No matter what the CE manufacturers believe TVs will not be IP only devices for decades. A STB or Media Centre allows you to have much more effective management of your home network. This also allows for upgrade and innovation. One camp heads for Home Gateway the other for Connected TV.

Those of use who are not drugged by the Connected TV hype realise that the Gartner Hype Curve “Trough of Dissillusionment” has yet to be reached by this technology as all technology devices before it. Dont get me wrong Connected Internet devices will be part of the mix but they will need to be futureproof and a CE manufacturer wants TV sales. Software and Apps always outgrows hardware (a PC is Memory stuffed so has lots of margin) so when an Application gets too big for your TV to handle will you go out and replace it. Not likely. A connected Media Centre gets my vote as it is merely an extended STB which is already mature, future proof but Broadcast focused.

2 thoughts on “Applications for TV versus PC

  1. Anthony,

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve always been of the school that the display should be a dumb panel – the highest quality picture one can buy and nothing more. Keep fancy dual-tuners, PVR, DVD, widgets etc. outside. In any case, for half decent audio, one wouldn’t even consider using the hardware integrated into a flat-panel – a quality AV receiver and speakers would be a given.
    The obsolescence factor is too great to make it worth integrating this stuff into the set. But as you say, from a CE display manufacturer point of view, they want these things to give USP in what is a highly competitive market. Of course, I have a vested interest!


  2. Some good points here. Regarding content distribution, I think that streaming video is great but when you look at live or high-demand TV scenarios, especially HD, the bandwidth math for individual on-demand streams gets ugly really quickly. I don’t think that the type of packet matters all that much, but I do think that broadcast content (however distributed) is not going away any time soon and that people that think so are not paying attention to the amount of data that they want streamed compared to the size of the pipe to get it there. An all-on-demand-streaming model for live sports makes about as much sense as broadcasting a youtube video of your aunt Sally’s cat asleep on the porch that no one really wants to watch. Both are a massive waste of bandwidth. There is a happy medium where the bandwidth waste is minimized, and to my mind it is about using the right tool for the right job.

    Regarding TV vs. PC applications, I think mobile apps have shown that users are reasonably able to troubleshoot/find help, but the bigger question to me is: are these PC or TV applications? Just because I like twitter doesn’t mean I am willing to use a virtual keyboard or complex remote to enter a tweet from my TV, and if I want to see the weather I’m inclined to either look to my laptop for the forecast or to local video content on TV for more detail. I haven’t seen a lot of compelling OTT content to date that is natural to the TV experience or more compelling than what I am using already.

    Again using mobile as an example, the applications I tend to use there most are very location-based, or bite-sized content consumption apps where other things, like more complex web interactions, are still better suited to the PC.

    The other issue is that the PC is regularly-upgraded whereas I’ve only purchased 1 TV in the last decade…I’m much more likely to upgrade the TV based on a substantial increase in video quality or improved form-factor than I am to upgrade, or even pay a couple hundred dollars more on a purchase of a new set, so that I can have connected features that I already have on other devices.

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