Technology

TV in the age of the Internet

If the networked TV of 2013 has as much CPU and GPU horsepower as, say, the iMac of 2010, and if the software environment is suitably flexible and extensible (via app stores or hacking), then why would you need an HTPC, AppleTV, media extender, or DVR? Indeed, such a TV would have much more gaming horsepower than the current generation of consoles, so you might be able to skip those, too. And if 2TB or so of storage is good enough for you, why would you need separate NAS or fileserver.

Given where things are headed, I can easily imagine the enthusiast home theater of 2013 consisting of a TV and maybe a game console, and that’s it. At some point, talking about home theater may once again amount to talking about TVs, receivers, speakers, and not much else. We’ll look at the vast tracts of empty space beneath our TVs and think back on the array of service- and task-specific boxes that we once used. If that’s the future of TV, then I, for one, am definitely looking forward to it.

Ars Technica, January 2011

That’s what I’ve been thinking for ages! Here a note of mine from October 2006:

a computer that looks and behaves like a TV

what-in-one:

  • TV, Video, Audio
  • Computer: dual-boot (GNU/Linux, Windows)
  • game console

Hardware:

  • HD Display
  • CPU, GPU (HD-Video)
  • Big Harddisk
  • DVD-drive
  • Infraredport, Remote
  • 5.1 Soundcard
  • cable TV-card
  • USB (iPod, optional Mouse&Keyboard)
  • Bluetooth (Gamepad, optional Mouse&Keyboard)

I think that’s the only reasonable way to build a video-home-entertainment device in the age of the Internet. Granted, you might not need the cable TV-card when you have Netflix and BitTorrent and you won’t need dual-boot if your main OS is such a strong platform that you have enough apps and games to run on that, but the rest pretty much still stands. That’s the way to do to TV what the iPod did to music, the iPhone did to phones and the Kindle and iPad are doing to reading and light mobile computing. It seems odd that Apple is so far off this time with their Apple TV, which is nothing more but yet another set-top box and it doesn’t even run apps or games.

The key is of course, again, a simple and nice user interface which is the thing that Google TV is so far away from (a full-scale keyboard! wtf?) and that’s what might prevent Sony and the likes from producing that dream-TV of mine for yet another few years. Even now that the idea has hit mainstream.

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