IPTV: HDTV and More on Computers
"The day I made that statement, about inventing the Internet, I was tired because I'd been up all night inventing the Camcorder" -- Al Gore
Al Gore was quick to admit he slightly overstated his role in developing the Internet. But in joking at his own expense, he probably didn't realize how prophetic his statement would be by linking video with the Internet.
All of the professional level products - hardware and software - at this year's IFA and IBC conferences focused on producing and delivering high definition content - movies, television, music. Now that Gore's Current TV is a growing cable network he's probably watching the rapidly developing IPTV arena and keeping his Internet options open.
Thanks largely to government regulations, HDTV content development and delivery have moved fairly rapidly in the U.S. since 1994. Europe, on the other hand, chose to let the market set the pace for conversion and there was only one channel delivering digital content in Europe by 2004. Service expansion has been painfully slow, so the need for HD TV sets has been mired in high cost and lack of interest. England's BBC has been one of the early adopters, so European broadcasters are watching their progress before they jump in with breathtaking content.
High Def TV set sales are experiencing considerable growth in the Pacific Basin, but for a change sales in the area lag behind those in the U.S. Europeans are certainly interested in high def big screen viewing and the set manufacturers and European retailers are convinced that the soccer World Cup will be the key decision point for many households. Then European consumers will face the same challenge U.S. buyers face - a dizzying array of sets and techie points that will totally blow your mind.
"Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn't have in your home" -- David Frost
Even though our rear projection "HDTV-ready" set isn't that old, we decided it was time to replace the huge piece of family room furniture with one of the sleek flat panel sets you see "everywhere." Trouble is, what self-respecting American family sits down and watches TV together anymore? So, in order to have multiple idiot screens we could:
- move the big set into one of the kids rooms which would mean they couldn't have anything else in the room (like a bed),
- buy a flat panel set for each of them (like that's gonna happen), or
- upgrade them to another, more useful option
That was an easy decision because they already have powerful InstantON entertainment notebooks. Kids were raised by TV and they entertain themselves with their computers, the Internet and cellphones. When we were growing up and happened to say we were bored the old man solved the problem he sent us outside to work and you did… or else. But in today's "civilized" Wi-Fi homes, kids fill their time watching videos and movies on their systems in their rooms, by the pool and probably even in class. In addition, our kids have ADS Tech TV tuner cards to prerecord shows when they left their systems at home and attached to our media center PC.
So simply by adding 21-inch LCD monitors they had everything they needed for IMing, web research, streaming video/audio, email, digital surround music and oh yes… schoolwork. That was easy and the picture looked better than large screen set in the family room… and they had room for furniture!