What Smart TVs Need to Succeed
Intel's Wilfred Martis shares his thoughts on how the smart TV concept is going to work.
The Internet and TV are finally converging, in a way consumers seem to be responding to.
Wilfred Martis, Intel‘s GM of consumer electronics in the digital home group, says that while we’ve heard this before, it’s different this time. We agree.
Intel is trying to brand smart TVs as something different from Internet-connected TVs - poised to be a hot item this holiday season - that have web-based features but fall short of being smart.
In Intel’s world, Martis says, a smart TV must meet the following three pillars:
Unlimited Content Access: “To do that, you need a browser.” This means a smart TV shouldn’t be restricted by the apps available to run on it. It should be able to grab any content that lives on the web. The only product that really does that, at the moment, sort of, is Google TV (available on some Sony products and the Logitech Revue).
Google TV happens to use Intel’s smart TV technology and Atom processor. Through the Chrome browser in Google TV, ideally, a user could get to anything - Hulu, NBC, ABC - but that isn’t working out at the moment because all major broadcasters are blocking Google TV’s access.
Extensive Use of Apps: Martis emphasized that the architecture should be easy for app developers to use so apps would be plentiful. Again, this plays into Intel’s strengths since its basic architecture is widely used and would allow easy portability of apps from one platform to a smart TV platform. “Creative developers will enhance the way users experience television,” he says.
Martis says an app store like Apple’s could be the key to the growth of smart TVs.
Immersive Experience: OK, this one’s kind of obvious, but also one that’s difficult to get right. Having used Google TV for a couple of weeks, I’m a little split on how immersive it is. But it is pretty good and the best method I’ve seen to integrate the web beyond the gated community of apps you will find on devices like a PS3, Roku or most Internet-connected TVs.
So why will smart TVs succeed when other Internet-enabled devices have failed? Broadband is the biggest reason. In years past, many of the devices were restricted to slower networks. With broadband penetration more widespread, devices can work up to their potential.
Martis also suggested that we’re ready to consume Internet content on our TVs because most of us disassociated the Internet from the PC when we adopted smartphones. “We think a mental leap of taking certain Internet uses to a TV is a smaller leap,” Martis says. “This thing [transition to TV screen] is going to happen faster than any Internet-connected screen in the past.”
Perhaps more important is that the Internet content we expect to enjoy on our TVs isn’t text-based web content. It’s media (music and video) and social (sharing with communities). Earlier IPTV concepts included a lot of text-based content and commerce, two things that don’t work well in a lean-back mode.
Robert Archer contributed to this report.
Grant Clauser is a technology editor, covering home electronics for more than 10 years for such publications as Electronic House and Dealerscope. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email at [email protected]
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