Monday, January 10, 2011

TV Watching Getting More Complicated

The line separating traditional TV from TV watching on the Internet is getting more blurry as we begin a new year. More of us have given up finding a good flick at the video store. In fact, it is harder and harder to even find a video store. The selection of DVDs in those little red kiosks is pretty lame. We don’t seem to find anything to watch from cable or satellite providers and good TV programs have almost disappeared from broadcast TV.

The Internet is becoming a major source of movies and other video TV programming; with this change comes a bevy of new devices that merge our TVs with the Internet. For the past year of so, Internet-ready flat screen TVs have been promoted by the major brands. Sony, Samsung and others have HD sets that not only can receive over the air broadcasts and cable, but can also connect directly to Internet services like Amazon Video, NetFlix, Hulu, Major League Baseball and the NFL. You don’t need a computer since the TV has a special Internet browser built in that allows you to connect with these services.

Google, a company that is finding its way into most every facet of our business and leisure lives has partnered with Sony to launch GoogleTV. If you already have a gaming system like the Wii, XBOX 360 or a PS3 you can use these devices to connect with Internet video sites and watch programs on the TV connected to the gaming console. Many Blue Ray DVD players have circuitry that allows you to connect to these online services.

There are also specialized devices that you can purchase that serve as a gateway to most all video content on the Internet. One of the most recent to hit the market is called Ruku. It requires a device which is about the size of your kid’s math textbook, allowing you to search for content across many Internet TV distributors and watch it on any TV you choose to connect to. There are standard definition models as well as full High Definition models.

These services and equipment are not free. The Ruko box runs about $60 to $100, plus you need to subscribe to one or more of the Internet TV services. Google TV and Hulu Plus cost about $8 a month and NetFlix online has several different subscription plans. In order to use the service you must also have a robust high speed Internet connection like Time Warner’s Road Runner or Cincinnati Bell’s Fuse.

Look for more and more devices that will continue to blur the line between broadcast and Internet TV. And you thought that 500 cable channels were too hard to keep track of!

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Anonymous Ricardo Ang II said...

Don't overlook the Apple TV. I have the first generation; the latest/2nd generation, albeit smaller, doesn't have a built-in hard drive.

The device handles streaming movies, T.V. series, music and podcasts with aplomb. Beautiful interface, but a pain to navigate with the small remote control.

4:02 PM  

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