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Who needs to be SMART?
tpfj   2/11/2014 10:40:29 AM
The dilema I'm facing is I now have an LCD TV, an Apple TV box, an AVR, a blu-ray player, a set-top box, a smartphone and a tablet that all claim to be SMART. Their claim is real too, they can all browse and stream (with differing levels of ease mind you) and all try to build a silo around themselves. So which one actually needs to be SMART while the rest do what they do best. I'm not sure it actually matters which one is indeed the SMART one either, but I wish we'd all decide and move on. The number of GUI's I now need to know my way around makes the number or remotes I need almost laughable.

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bobdvb   2/11/2014 5:45:55 AM
Background: I have spent nearly a decade working on these devices for some big players. I have also been on various standards committees and worked with content providers in multiple markets.

Consumers want simplicity, "wife acceptance factor" plays a big part in that. Yes, set-top boxes aren't particularly desired but they get acceptance when the benefits play out and the benefits are nearly all content centric. e.g. DVR is about time-shifting content to make it more convenient and OTT is about getting access to more content.

There are a good number of people who would like a piece of glass instead of a TV because they appreciate the experience their STB gives them. This did happen earlier in this history of Plasma TVs, they had an umbilical to a processing box, but it hasn't really been resurected. I spoke to one company who recently mentioned considering it for one line, but time will tell.

Smart TV's real problem is that there isn't a common approach to accessing content. There are various HTML formats in use currently, especially because each TV vendor thinks they have the right answer. HbbTV has come forward as an offer to unify this, but the implementation of CE-HTML has closed the market too much. Now OIPF and HbbTV is moving to HTML5 the market is opening up.

However the market has another issue, manufacturers want to become the new gatekeepers to content and take a piece of the value chain. This is the new part of the traditional value chain which has recently been declining, even with the shake-up, this isn't easy.

Another part of the gatekeeper scenario is that these global giants struggle to implement individually for local markets, so they create global portals and switch on/off content to meet the local market. But this is a lowest common denominator situation, they struggle to maximise their revenue from premium content and they struggle to leaverage their access to prime local content.

Some local companies are showing leadership, but the complexities of content access, certification and politics make success difficult.

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Re: I don't want a smart TV
featherg   2/6/2014 5:49:45 PM
Junko I agree; "craming stuff" into the TV is not a logical path.  TV is on the move and >35% of new generation watchers (new households) are leaving the fixed location TV for "on-the-move"; watching is not a group event in the home anymore (for the new users).  Shifting is generational and the tranformation will continue each year with greater pressure. The OTT is into year 10 already and yet just beginning. Roku 3 (or Apple 3rd generation behind that) is the tangilble example of what happens with fixed location next generation shifters.  Exciting future. The game changer, the pivot will be future content actions from ESPN.     

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Not SMART but DUMB display is all that will be required.
prabhakar_deosthali   2/6/2014 2:54:21 AM
Actually NOT SMART TV BUT DUMB TV should be the wave of the future.


Even todays with the set top box doing all the work of getting the required channel from the satellite, demodulating it and converting itto a plain RGB , all that tuner circuit in the TV has become redundent.

The TV in the future is slated to become just a pure display device hung like a poster on the wall and the required content may come from the smart phone or STB or Tablet , a laptop some other wi-fi device which will stream the selected content wirelessly to the TV .


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Customary ommissions of devices and content portals
Bert22306   2/5/2014 7:43:26 PM
This article seems to continue the practice of ignoring many sources of TV content, not to mention devices that can be used to receive Internet TV. There are literally thousands of Internet portals available for TV, including such obvious ones as cbs.com, abc.com, nbc.com, fox.com, in the US. The "aggregation sites" mentioned, and the only ones available to such deliberately-crippled boxes like Roku or AppleTV, are only those that require a subscription.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Try just this one portal:


Now, show me where it, and the thousands of TV "stations" it allows one to watch, were mentioned. And too, of the devices listed, which ones allow me to use this one aggregation portal?

For instance, where are Dell, Asus, Gateway, Lenovo, Apple Macintosh, or even Sony Vaio, mentioned among the devices that can be used? These are not encumbered like the AppleTVs and the Rokus.

(Most PCs these days come equipped with HDMI and RGB interfaces, and so do virtually all flat panel TVs, making the PC no more difficult to connect to your TV set than the STBs mentioned.)

Aside from that, I totally agree with the gist of the article.

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Re: I don't want a smart TV
Bert22306   2/5/2014 7:06:53 PM
Problem is, people dislike set-top boxes. In fact, odd as it might seem, that's why there are still many who use only analog TV stations from their cable company, so they can avoid the box.

But this should still not be a problem. The firmware/software of the smart TV, since this thing is connected to the Internet, can be updated as easily as it is in PCs. And the smart hardware COULD be modularized. Updating the entire hardware module would most likely be needed, for example, when transitioning from H.264 and prior algorithms, to H.265 HEVC compression. Such major disruptions in the DTV distribution standards will often require a hardware update, even though the resolution of your display stays the same. (Unless dual streams are offered for each program, but that would be for a limited time, perhaps.)

Alternatively, there's always the option of an add-on box, once the internal smarts are beyond updating. At least that way, people will have several years before they have to have that additional STB.

Otherwise, wow, would TV manufacturers become sidelined. Just build the dumb display, and everyone else gets to have the fun.

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Re: I don't want a smart TV
junko.yoshida   2/5/2014 6:51:07 PM
@caleb, you wrote:

I'd rather have my smart media device be something I can swap out several times during the lifetime of my TV.

Indeed, that is the crux of the issue. I think that "smart TV" probably should be redefined. Rather than trying to cramming everything into a TV to make it smarter (which is the preference of TV manufacturers), it's about time to leave TV as a display (Ok, you can call it "intelligent display" for marketing purposes), and make it flexible enough to plug a box of your choice in!

Caleb Kraft
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I don't want a smart TV
Caleb Kraft   2/5/2014 12:50:44 PM
To me, the smart tv market seems a bit peculiar. I think that, in the past at least, the upgrade cycle for a tv has been much longer than the associated peripherals, including computers. I'd rather have my smart media device be something I can swap out several times during the lifetime of my TV.

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