January 02, 2009
| by Richard M. Sherwin
With the unofficial start of the festivities of the Consumer Electronics Show only hours away, computer chip giant Intel, along with several TV makers, have finished separate studies that ask consumers world-wide: “What do you want your TV to be when it grows up?”
In fact, Intel will unveil its latest Internet TV technology in a few days, giving validation to a concept of PC-Internet content anywhere-anyplace that might be inevitable, no matter whose research you follow. With computer network giant Cisco making another stab at PC-TV, this show apparently is the stalking horse for the next generation of TVs.
Studies about this PC-TV technology have heated up lately. I recently participated in one such study. Here’s what I said:
- I want cable or satellite access built-in to the TV
- I want TiVo-like PVR functions to be available the minute I turn the set on….and the ability to legally burn the TV’s content on a DVD (like the old Humax PVR).
- I want 7.1 channel audio formats to be available through speakers I can’t see and a subwoofer type base system without a giant box.
- If I do have to connect my TV to a component audio system, I want to be able to do it wirelessly.
- I do want some built-in Internet/PC content and I want an easy to use wireless or screen driven keyboard on a wireless remote.
- I want IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base), the MLB official baseball encyclopedia, the Official Scrabble Dictionary, The Encyclopedia Britannica, the National Hockey League and the National Football League and NBA Encyclopedias to have their own special soft-keys or widgets for instant answers to my questions.
- If I have any add-on accessory, whether it’s Internet Radio, Internet TV, mobile phone, home phone and/or security camera, it should also be connected wirelessly.
- I want to be able to change the channel, answer the phone, change the Internet Channel and ask a trivia questions and get answers by just talking to the TV through voice recognition.
- If there’s a problem with any add-on or built-in accessory or feature there should be an onboard “intelligent” help system that either calls technical support from the TV-PC maker, or fixes the problem when I am not home.
Intel’s study was conducted over the last three years or so. The TV makers, who have been increasingly adding extra features and Internet related content for the last two years, have actually been tooling around this arena for more than 10 years.
History of the TV-PC
A decade ago Philips tried to sell the DVX 8000 (see below), a multifunction box that, when combined with a 32 inch Magnavox TV, gave you a computer-TV combo. This unit also offered the first on-line bulletin board access on a TV, through a 14.4 speed modem. Later that year, Panasonic brought out a 27 inch TV with a built in 386 based PC and, not to be outdone, RCA-Thomson partnered with Compaq to have one of the first living room-based PCs.
One of the more unusual combo PC-TV-Online access units was the Gateway Destination where the venerable PC maker worked with Mitsubishi and Princeton Graphics on a high-end version of the TV-PC. in the middle 90s. This device made all the top magazines and TV shows of its time because of its elegant design and for its time better graphic delivery of both TV and PC and Online content.
Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.