New tube, can cable stay tuned? Internet invades the TV…
It seems the mark of a new decade may be the mark of a new beginning in how we watch TV. A number of companies have released products bringing TV to our set tops via the internet. With cable providers and broadcasting companies battling over fees, unfortunately at our expense the advent of Internet TV brings a new option to the table. My question is simple, will we now be able to get rid of the overpriced relic known as Cable in favor of Internet TV devices – eliminating the monthly service fee?
Apple TV, Boxee Box, Google TV, and Roku are the primary players in the Internet TV space at the moment – all of which have their advantages and drawbacks.
Apple TV - provides content from iTunes and Netflix primarily. YouTube, podcasts, and internet radio are also included. For those who own iPhone or iPad its quite appealing as you can download an app that turns your iPhone/iPad into a remote. The one drawback of the Apple TV is you can only rent content from iTunes thru it, there is no purchase option. I am not a big fan of the rental play once model (you have 48 hours from pressing play to finish watching). It also doesn’t have a browser but that’s not a deal breaker. For $99, its hard to complain.
Boxee Box - Perfect for playing downloaded video as it can handle almost any video file type. It has a browser and can play Flash video from the web. Boxee also has apps such as Pandora and they will work in the background while in multitasking mode. It also comes with a very cool remote control that has a Qwerty keyboard on the backside so you can type on it. Drawbacks are it lacks Hulu, Netflix, and other content providers. At $200 it’s a hard sell for me until they get a few content providers on board since it primarily serves as a way to watch downloaded video and I don’t torrent shows or movies.
Google TV – Best option for browsing the internet from your TV. (Any option that allows internet browsing starts out with some plus points in my book.) It also supports apps and for those who have an Android, you can use it as your remote. The drawbacks are Google TV browser is being blocked by Hulu, ABC, CBS, and NBC so cant watch any of those programs until apps come out for these networks or they decide to remove the block. The $300 price though seems a bit high for the existing capabilities though I do believe their product will soon be top of the class.
Roku - Focused on tuning you into select internet distribution channels. It has Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus. The device doesn’t have a browser or any other apps but considering it has the 3 major content providers, at $60 – 80 it seems like a good buy.
First Look at these Internet TV devices - VIDEO Reviews
These new services are amazing and introduce a new way of bringing entertainment into our living room. Netflix, Hulu, and other online providers of TV entertainment have already had a huge impact, making the shows and movies we want available to us on demand. Extending these resources to our TV sets is awesome, giving us an alternative to our cable programming and movies on demand.
One question that comes to mind is, as Internet TV evolves will television programming also be delivered? Meaning, its great to have your on-demand movie selections but will our TV stations come over as well. Like radio, turning through stations of programmed television has a certain appeal. The service of having someone to decide what content to show and when to show it adds a different element. The element of discovering things to watch, of which many times we normally would not have selected - the stumble upon factor.
For others TV programming helps them frame their days. For example, my mother catches Oprah at 4pm and then prepares dinner, its like part of her daily routine. I believe in order to replace cable completely, this television programming will have to come to Internet TV in some form. That I guess is up to how flexible the network providers are. There also lies opportunity for new “channels” to emerge. Those who couldn’t enter the traditional television market due to the barriers of cost and scale but can manage to deliver network television via the web. Or even, will there be a new smart programming system that builds channels based on our interests? A Pandora for TV?
In conclusion, Internet TV is still in its infancy but this is a great start, there are plenty of good things to come. The biggest issue right now seems to be trouble with getting networks to play nice with everyone. Google TV is being blocked by most networks and one would think Boxee will encounter some of the same problems. As such, looks like we are a ways from being able to rid ourselves of our Cable/Satellite providers. Im not a big TV watcher but I love sports, especially football - so for football fans like myself we need our ESPN, NFL Network and Sunday Ticket. At this stage I would opt for a Roku since it has the major content providers and priced at a point where you cant go wrong but will be anxiously be awaiting the evolution of the others. I have a feeling Google TV is going to be in the running for industry leader of this market.
What are your thoughts on Internet TV? Is this, just an aperture into a whole new world of TV entertainment?