What sort of things the future TVs holds for consumers

February 4, 2009 · Filed Under Editor's Corner 

The television that we are so much in tune to watch either alone or together as a family has so much potential and can be more interactive and enjoyable that what it is today, more and more the developer and engineers at TV manufacturing companies expressing similar views. Most of the new development has been focused on its thinness and picture and sound quality or their pure energy efficient functionalities which is mostly self-imposed by manufacturers themselves. TV manufacturers up today have been very attentive to the demands of TV broadcasters in positioning their product in such a way to fulfill their requirements making TVs to be receivers for broadcasters’ contents. As a result of this the TVs have not really changed very much over the last decade or so giving priority to public services and continuity. Recent advancement in mobile phones and personal computers due to their unrestricted platforms which offers a diversity of services to the users putting a pressure to TV manufacturers to leverage the internet technologies to increase the number of ways in TV viewing enjoyment. From the technological point of view the shape of the ideal TV in future is becoming more and clearer with its support for internet connectivity and improved rate of connectivity and implementation of higher performance hardware such as System-on- Chips (SoC) as well as other modules and devices. But the current implementation of web browsing is slow compared to PCs and mobile phones as a result most attention of young people goes to PC and mobile phone instead of TV and there is a little awareness to television programming. The quality of internet connection for future TV is a must considering video streaming services for high definition TV (HDTV) content but current specification for HTML displaying which was drawn up by digital TV working group which was established in 2003 does not considers all the future possibilities and scenarios one being the use of HTML screens in order to scroll through various programming instead of use of remote control. Japanese manufacturers are still at the early stages of realization of TV of tomorrow. One effort in achieving this is in creating an environment capable of handling streaming video, one good example is Sony’s “AppliCast” a TV widget execution environment that is written in JavaScript and XML capable of calling video players via a widget or Panasonic’s “VIERA CAST” which is a GUI execution environment also written in JavaScript where the menu screens as well as other GUI elements are generated at Panasonic’s own servers capable of playing MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video as well as H.264 YouTube video streams. Unlike the outside of Japan broadcasting companies the Japanese broadcasting companies putting restriction in placing program content on the same screen as widget as well as other information but Sony took the initiatives in separating the program content from the widgets horizontally and releasing the AppliCast as a SDK making it possible for other individuals to develop their own widgets. This initial effort is toward fulfilling broadcaster demands while at the same time providing the type of services the users are seeking. But the future of TV images is what the viewers want not the broadcaster or even the set manufacturers. One good example of this is introducing community function that will intrigue viewers such as “Nico Nico Video” a shared Internet-based video clip service that is extremely popular in Japan. Through this service viewers are able to provide their comments on video clips which are superimposed on the video images so the users of this service can view the clips while sharing opinions. But this sort of application and services will not be sufficient where the insufficient hardware performance is yet another major issue in achieving an acceptable TV user Interface. Due to intense competition TV manufacturers are pushed to cut hardware cost to stay competitive and as a result of this little interest have been given in improving hardware specification to achieve a more improved UI or web contents for example the typical HTML based TV browser has only between 10 to 20 MB of memory. One sign of improvement from the hardware spec. side is through the media processor which is based on cell technology providing an ultra-high resolution function making it possible to play and record multiple programs at the same time expected to be introduced in Toshiba’s TVs by fall of 2009. Another sign is by Intel Media Processor CE 3100 also known as “Canmore”. Intel has already ported the “Widget Channel” a widget execution environment through its partnership with Yahoo. But consider this notion of having your TV upgraded on a regular basis and making it secure through security software and at some point in time buying a new set of TV just like a new PC to support the new services. As the thought of new TV bring excitement to the future customers the hurdle of dealing with multiple platforms in hardware and software and OS is a scary thought which TV manufacturers and service providers alike must consider to prevent the same disaster and confusion that we are facing in PC market.

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