Monday, January 07, 2013

How We Watch TV Continues to Change

January is always a bellwether month for the electronics industry.  Later this month in Las Vegas, thousands of digerati will convene to review the newest offerings from the world’s technology giants.  This year promises to introduce several technologies aimed at simplifying the single most popular electronic experience: watching TV.
In years past the emphasis was on selling the quality and size of the picture and jaw breaking sound for our movies, sports and games.  With 60 inch flat panel TVs selling for less than 1000 bucks, the profit margin for equipment is waning so manufacturers and program distributors are looking to change the way you receive TV rather than sell you a larger, brighter TV set.
With more and more of us opting for watching TV on our personal schedules rather than abiding by some arbitrary decision by a New York network executive, there must be a change in the devices we use to view.
For years, Netflix, Hulu and others have offered on-demand viewing of programming using a computer or, more recently, a tablet.  The issue has always been connecting the computer to the large TV.  It could be done, but many found it to be perplexing and not always reliable.
I have a relative who recently asked for some help as he or someone in his family had inadvertently pressed one or a combination of buttons on one of his several remote controls rendering his TV inoperative.  While he has several devices connected, i.e. DIRECTV, Apple TV, a DVD player and a game or two, none were viewable.  There has to be a simpler way.
The new TVs coming to market will continue to have great picture and sound quality with the added benefit of ease of operation.  Rather than several devices connected with cables to the TV, the TVs have high speed wifi connections and integrated software allowing for access to video and TV programs from most any source.  The on-screen program guide will display your options.  Once you choose, the TV will handle making all the connections.  So if you want to watch Downton Abbey the TV will find it for you.  It may come from PBS Online, Hulu, Netflix or even over the air.  It matters not.  You choose the program to watch and the TV will find it and display it.
While not widely available yet, look for some models operating in a “Siri-like” mode allowing you to just verbally tell your TV to find your program.  If you activate the parental controls and your teenager should ask for some less than appropriate program, the TV might just respond with, “I’m sorry Dave, I am afraid I can’t do that.”


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