I find it quite entertaining to see visual media return to Edison's Kinetoscope (1894), also a personal movie/video viewer.
I agree the content has indeed regressed, but there's well over 100 years of good movie content, a lot of which you can get on DVD. Most requires a large screen to get the effect intended by its creators, and some requires adapting yourself to the pace of a different time.
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of Giovanni Pastrone's "Cabiria", which takes place during the Second Punic war between Rome and Carthage. Archimedes has a wonderful cameo as a role model for all engineers. Martin Scorsese describes "Cabiria" as "watching documentary footage of Ancient Rome".
Roman naval battles. Archimedes' Mirrors. Roman infantry formations. Human sacrifices to Moloch. Betajet-Bob says "check it out".
Yes, this seems like a FAR more sensible use of tablets, than just using them as some outrageously expensive and overdesigned remote control!!
It should be very easy to use a tablet as a portable TV, depending only on access to a WiFi hotspot. The article mentions details about software algorithms to improve the picture, which is fine, but anyone who watches TV on a PC knows that this works very well. I happen to have the PC connected to a 42" HDTV, but that's almost immaterial. If a PC can do it, a tablet should be able to as well. Like the article mentions, tablet processors are becoming plenty powerful enough for this.
The graphic about distance vs screen size is right on the money. You need high resolution even on a small screen, if it's close enough.
So the only question might be, is there TV content available on the Internet, so you can easily gain access to it with a PC or tablet? The answer is yes, at least in some countries, including the US. For those who like cable channels, even they're available in many cases, if you use your cable subscription username/password. The free to air channels, in the US, are available at the networks' own web sites, as video on demand. Local broadcasters also offer content online.
In some or maybe most cases, though, TV content is not available in media streams compatible with tablets. At least, not yet. Tablet makers need to support the same streaming protocols as PCs, such as Flash for example, and that alone should go a long way. It would be even more of a sure thing if tablets supported the same web browsers as PCs. Sometimes it's hard to tell why a device can't see the content. Is it deliberate, from the TV network? Or is it just that the tablet designer is asking for trouble (you know, like Apple not supporting Flash)?
NXP Software's approach seems like the right way to go -- leverage the power of the GPU core(s).
But I disagree with the article's headline "Media tablet is your next TV." In many households, the tablet is an important second screen, but I think most couples and families still prefer to sit together in the living room and watch the big screen HDTV together for shows they share a mutual interest in watching. Watching TV as a group isn't a terribly social experience to begin with, but it's far more social then having each family member go off to his or her room with individual tablets -- especially if they have a shared interest in the same shows.
I'm a trailing edge adopter, but get this: On a regular basis I like to crawl up on the couch with my notebook and an episode of Dowton Abbey bought on Amazon--and it ain't even a very high res screen on my Lenovo T61. Just wait til I graduate to a good tablet.
The boob-tube has already been replaced in my household by the ipad, yet TV is ever present. Although we have big screens along with a subscription to Dish Satellite, and can also receive good quality NY City over-the-air TV signals with our roof TV antenna, the fact is our 8 year old daughter prefers to watch kids shows on the ipad. She can be glued to Kid's Nick on Netflix for hours watching reruns of iCarly, Wizards of Waverly Place, etc. My 13 year old son generally watches YouTube videos of whatever (and if he watches a film, it is streamed to our big screen via Netflix over his Playstation console). As for myself, since I have been too lazy to run a TV antenna or satellite wire to the kitchen, I watch broadcast TV over Aereo on an ipad whenever I can catch some TV while having a meal. Of course, with the ipad we are not restricted to watching TV in the kitchen. I can watch Aereo rebroadcasts on my patio, and often I have to get my daughter out of the bathroom or wherever she parks herself -- with the ipad running TV reruns over Netflix. Convenience clearly trumps any need for big screen picture quality -- and has me watching old fashioned over-the-air TV again.
Junko, thanks for a thought-provoking article. While the technology is certainly coming in place to enable tablets replacing TV, I think Frank makes a critical point. TV viewing has, to this point in history, primarily been a shared experience between family and friends. Sure, we like to curl up on the couch with a tablet or laptop by ourselves to watch our favorite show or game while the majority of the house watches something different on the TV. But the experience of watching something as a group will continue to drive demand for TV.
We still go to theaters to watch movies that we could just stream into our homes. The cultural experience will likely delay the impacts of technology advances.
I agree. Each person's watching behavior depends on their living circumstances and personal preferences. Lumping individual experiences into an extrapolated trend of watching content on any of a myriad of platforms and distribution systems is too simplistic IMHO. Besides, video evaluations are very subjective and can vary from person to person and from device to device.
I agree with Frank. Most of the time I spend watching TV is with my wife. While we both have Ipads they are used for quick searches on the internet or for reading and games. I consider tablet keypads close to useless and do most of my computing on a laptop.
Tablet as a personal TV might already be happening. I still remember years back when Sony launched personal portable TV. It was not going too far. Yet, the world has changed. The new generation are looking for more personal experience. Today's kids might want to watch a cartoon shows while dad is watching news or a documentary. I found personal TV appealing and I am pretty sure there is a market for it. Question is whether the market is big enough. Personally, movies (in particular, action movies) deliver better on a big screen. I definitely enjoy watching sports more on a TV than on a tablet device.
For solo viewing resolution, the tablet can beat a large TV and a movie screen. The problem becomes how to accommodate social viewing (I've not watched TV in 30 years of business travel; I only watch at home with my wife.) My hunch is that large screen TVs will disappear when pico-projectors take over. they are small, cheap, and can fill an arbitrary area on a wall.
I don't believe the communal experience of watching a tv in a living room with friends will disappear. But that doesn't make watching crappy video on tablets acceptable. Here's the opportunity for the engineering community to bring the HD experience to mobile!
I agree. I didn't take your article's title to mean that tablets would displace large screen TV. More like, they would become another TV.
Thing is, they should and could already be. Why aren't they? We're not talking big technological hurdle here, even if initially their video quality can't be UHD. Streaming media protocols that adjust to the capabilities of the link and the appliance have existed for years now.
I've seen an odd phenomenon at work on this subject. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, when digital TV was being developed and then deployed, people were saying absurd things about what digital TV was (or was going to be). Somehow getting DTV confused with the Internet.
Now that ISP nets have evolved to the point where they really can and do carry TV, everyone seems unable to figure out how it works. Seemingly unable to accept that they can move past the old delivery media.
BTW, my hunch is that Steve Jobs, by refusing to support Flash on Apple hand held toys, delayed TV to these devices by several years. Flash was the lingua franca of Internet TV, and still is to a large extent.
To me, the issue is bandwidth. If I want to watch basketball on my iPad, it varies depending on who is sending it. The iPad resolution is fine on a good day for the feed.
Apple has a good model with movies where you download to rent rather than streaming. Netflix streaming model has a problem with bandwidth depending on network congestion.
That problem is resolving itself as we speak. ISP core networks are getting faster, and ISPs are offering always faster broadband.
Just about all of my TV viewing has been streaming, mostly from abc.com, cbs.com, fox.com, nbc.com, or hulu.com. If there are bandwidth issues at all, it's usually during the ad breaks, when the player is trying to download the whole next segment and stream the ad at the same time. Also use streaming, on rare occasions, from Amazon. Also streaming from foreign TV networks, but mostly that's just for the newscasts.
Don't know about Netflix, because frankly, I can get more TV from those sites I mentioned than I can dedicate time watch to anyway.
My only point was, if I can do this on a PC, there's no reason in principle why a pad shouldn't be able to as well. This is not a technological leap we're talking about. It's here and now.
I can't think of many other things that are as big a waste of bandwidth and resources as watching tlevision on a tablet device. Of course, I can not imagine a bigger waste of bandwidth than sending television programs over the internet. Just because a lot of people do it does not make it any less wasteful or any less stupid. If a program is already broadcast over the air, or over cable, why in the world should it also be wasting bandwidth? Because it is more convenient? Or because somebody can profit from selling the service? There are, after all, still a few things thatbsimply should not be done, not even for the money.
It's a paradigm shift. Instead of tying up spectrum on one-way broadcasts, you distribute the vast majority of TV material on demand. The bandwidth taken up is therefore mostly between servers located at the edges of the ISP networks, to individual households.
Eventually, much of the spectrum now taken up by those one-way broadcast streams can be repurposed to two-way service.
Think for example of a typical cable system. The majority of frequency channels on that coax are still dedicated to carrying one-way TV programming, broadcast throughout their network. That can be reorganized into more individual, broadband two-way channels (say, DOCSIS), of course at the cost of adding in the servers at the edges.
The end result is far more modern networks, where the network matches what people actually want rather than people having to conform to the restrictions of the network. Not just in terms of those old traditional daily time slots. Also in terms of having the freedom to select any TV content source, without being tied to the offerings (and prices) of just the one cable or satellite system you happen to subscribe to.
Junko, I would like to digress here -what about the impact to society and the human population in general? Isn't this too much amusement where ever and when ever? I already feel that I am communicating (the old fashioned way!) much less than I used to with my family members. With the old fashioned boob-tube, one benefit is the whole family watched it together.
Seems to me what one of my favorite rock artists prophesied is on its way to be realized -Roger Waters' Amused to Death!
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