TVs are the battleground for the next tech revolution

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 2, 2013
Hardware, tv

I'm using televisions for two purposes: to watch TV or media like DVD or Blu-Ray movies, and to play games on gaming systems like the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360. I'm not doing that a lot though but now people who have the TV turned on all day long even if they do not watch actively.

TVs have not changed much in regards to functionality they provide in the last couple of decades. It is different technology-wise though, you got better resolutions and comfortable options built into TVs these days, but that is not a game changer.

Companies like Apple, Google or Samsung believe that it is time to update televisions to turn them into hubs that you use for a variety of purposes. While I'm not really sold yet on the idea yet, companies began to announce that they are working on a new wave of interactive TVs.

Samsung for instance announced that it would unveil its Evolution Kit at CES 2013 which is a small box you connect to the TV to add a variety of capabilities to it. The majority of features seem to be connected to the Internet in one way or the other. Users of the TV can now use apps while watching TV or use the TV to communicate via Skype or other messaging apps.

samsung smart tv

Apple too is working on revolutionizing the TV industry and while no one knows what the company plans to reveal in the near future, many think that Apple TVs will offer a better user experience and integrated iOS apps. This may include options to control the TV via voice for instance, using the infamous Siri, and to control the TV with Apple devices.

Google on the other hand has not revealed plans to manufacturer TVs. The company does however make available its Google TV box and technology, and it is likely that improvements will be made as well in 2013.

Microsoft on the other hand has already a large user base thanks to its Xbox system which the company turned from pure gaming into an entertainment machine. The next installment of the console is expected to be delivered in 2013 and it will be interesting to see what it adds to the tablet.

I'm not a prime customer for these technologies as I have days and sometimes even weeks without turning on the TV. Adding apps and Internet services to the TV may sound like a great idea for many, for me, it is nothing that I'm interested in as I have my PC for that.

I can see the uses though, and controlling the TV with your voice would definitely be something that could turn out to be really cool, provided that the voice recognition is good enough. Apps my be of interest too, especially games probably but also apps that may provide viewers with additional information that they may find interesting.

What's your take on the next generation of interactive TVs? Is that something you are interested in?


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  1. norm said on January 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I remember when they were going to roll out smart TVs in the 90s, then they found out the internet was already invented. It seems even less relevant now.

    Personally I think they need to create some content before they worry about content delivery, otherwise I’m not even planning on updating to a HDTV when my CRT set dies.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      There are a couple of things I’m interested in, like voice controlling the TV, provided that this works reasonable well and does not switch to the wrong channel all the time, or an intelligent TV that knows what I watch and will automatically have the channel ready when I turn it on based on time and my previous viewing habits. Then again, all of this is nothing that is really needed to enjoy the TV program.

  2. Broader Perspective said on January 3, 2013 at 1:37 am

    “Smart TV” = Spying TV – it will recognize how many people are in front of = so if U pay per view of something and invite friends to watch – it stops until everyone pays.
    (they may postpone activation of this function until so many ppl buy Spying TV that it becomes standart without alternative)
    Also they want more personalized advertizement judging by data acquired from this room and viewer behaviour and reactions to viewed contents – tools for analize it and create profiles are developed …..
    And many other more nefarious aims ….

  3. Wayfarer said on January 3, 2013 at 1:25 am

    I’m with Jim.

    The whole gamut of HD/digital/home theatre is aimed to have us buying new kit all the time. And for what? To watch utter rubbish. When I was a lad, we had but 3 channels in the UK, and most peoples’ lives didn’t revolve around them. If you’d told me then we’d someday have 100s of channels – and that they’d largely contain rubbish – I’d wouldn’t have believed you.

    My neighbour has the full range of home-theatre equipment – and shows it off at every opportunity. It costs him a small fortune. But it still seems to show very little more than the rubbish I’m already switching off on my modest home TV.

    I watch about 3 or 4 hours of TV a week – mostly news – and that mostly via my PC. If it wasn’t for my good lady wife, the 30-odd inch screen that dominates my sitting room would be in the local rubbish skip.

    Switch it all off people and get some fresh air. Buy the odd DVD if you want to watch TV – it really IS cheaper than trying to keep up with the digital Joneses. Better still – buy a few good books. Even better – start taking the dog for a walk – there’s a world out there.

  4. Roderick said on January 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Personally i like them, but they are not much use anymore. When there were not many devices to connect to your tv. But now you can buy a cheap tv with HDMI input for less than 200 and add an external device. For far less than the smart TV. I want ways to cut the cord and cutting all these remotes.

  5. Jim said on January 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    It’s a trap to suck us into buying new TVs that we don’t need. TV manufacturers have become addicted to the influx of sales they enjoyed while we were switching from CRTs to flat panels (LCD/LED/plasma). Once everyone had replaced their tube sets, their sales started to flatten. The situation was made worse by the long lifespan of flat panels. They were looking at a decade or more of flat sales. They tried using 3D to drive sales back up, but that has failed. So now they are back at trying to develop a “must have” technology that will spark sales again. “Smart TVs” are the next attempt at that. They are really trying to kill two birds with one stone on this one. Not only could Smart TVs drive short term sales, the inherent progress churn that devices will undergo would drive recurring sales as the “smart” parts of these devices become obsolete over time.

    Unfortunately for the manufacturers, I don’t think the demand for these devices is there. Although they have plenty of “gee wiz” and “cool”, most folks just don’t have a need. On top of that, I’m not sure how well these devices will play with cable and satellite boxes. In my experience, the external boxes tend to nullify any functionality in a TV. Essentially the TV becomes a monitor and nearly all its other capabilities go unused.

    To me, the primary market for these would be the home theater enthusiasts and tech geeks. Once again there is bad news for the manufacturers because these folks more than likely already have devices that provide the smart TV functionality (and then some).

    With all that’s going against them, I’m thinking the Smart TVs will fail just like 3D. The add-on boxes like Google and Apple will see some growth though, but those won’t translate into new TV sales. They’re going to have to go back to the drawing board or accept the reduced level of sales.

  6. Nebulus said on January 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t have any interest in buying and using a “smart” or other kind of interactive TV. There is nothing that such TV can offer me that I don’t already have on my PC or other devices.

  7. notme said on January 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I call bullshit, people nowadays spent less time on their TV to justify buying another new TV to replace what they currently already own. They will however buy a set-top box or an Xbox.

    It’s an established market that no one will profit greatly from. Besides, the Hollywood executives are too dumb to make it easier for people to watch TV. Then they wonder why people pirate their shows.

  8. lainiwaku said on January 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

    and forget people who use computer with tv ? ^_^
    i use my cmputer on tv so tv it’s more important for me :p

  9. Jojo said on January 2, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I have a 42″ TV witht he sound pumped into an amplifier and then to headphones or speakers and an HDMI cable connection from my video card on the computer which allows me to watch MP4 video’s & such. But it is essentially a US$400 dumb monitor that takes too long to start up and too long to switch channels (which I guess is what you get when you buy an off-brand like Hisense from China).

    I’d like to have WI-Fi/ethernet connection on it, maybe even a full separate computer connected to it at some point. I am debating adding a Roku box but with the HDMI cable, I can use the computer connection instead.

    I think eventually when we get those very thin OLED big panel TV’s, that walls will be paneled with TV type video monitors/computers. You’ll be able to move from room to room and whatever content you were watching will follow you! That will be cool. No more risking the cell phone in the bathroom. [lol]

  10. ilev said on January 2, 2013 at 10:30 am
  11. ilev said on January 2, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Smart TVs have no future as people don’t use them as such, except for video streaming.

    Smart TV owners aren’t using most apps on them

    Television is one place where the forward motion of technology is consistently evident. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean all of that forward motion is always useful. Smart TVs, which connect to the Internet and come with a litany of various applications, are one place that things aren’t quite panning out. Turns out, people don’t want Facebook and other apps on their TVs…

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