Saturday, September 15, 2012

TVii vs iTV

Simple for the Consumer
One of the big complaints retailers have with consumer electronics is that they can be complicated. Much of the technology development in TV sets has been in the form of attachments rather than developments in the set itself. As a result, the consumer is left with numerous boxes connected to their TV set and that can be connected to each other in a variety of ways. Though as long as audio is connected to audio, video to video, and signal out is plugged into signal in the system will work, it may not work well. Additionally, as there is no central control switching from one content source to another can be confusing. Smart remotes have been offered by companies such as Logitech and Acoustic Research that automate source changing; however these tend to require even more A/V skills to program initially. Google TV also offered some advanced capability in switching media, but has not been much of a success to this point.

Now comes Nintendo with a device that promises to make source switching very simple. It is agnostic with respect to content provider and provides additional services that form the basis of new usage models for watching TV. The new Nintendo game controller has a relatively large touch screen that can be used as a second POP screen (Picture outside of Picture) or provide additional information such as what happened in the show before you tuned in. Sounds great.

The Nintendo controller interfaces directly with the boxes around your TV through the a traditional IR interface. As bits of the technology get emulated on other platforms such as as a smartphone or tablet App, the recently buried IR interface might find its way back onto smartphones and perhaps into digital signage as well. The availability of a touchpanel system control might also further spur the consolidation of home theater attachments back into the TV, the controller,or into existing only as a service such as what is already happening to the DVR and optical drive.

There have been numerous rumors of a new Apple branded TV set ushering new paradigms for TV watching. Baring a substantially different direction by Apple, they may be loosing their "first mover" status in TV set usage innovation. This new product by Nintendo might spark a round of innovation in the industry ahead of the launch of any Apple branded TV set. Certainly the names GamePad and TVii seem to be making a statement. The 6.2" screen of the GamePad put it between the smallest tablets and the largest cell phones. Emulating this kind of functionality in a cell phone sized screen might not work well. The device also has Near Field Communications (NFC) which was anticipated but not found on the iPhone 5. NFC may facilitate on the spot purchase of content or user identification for restricted content. The device shows a great deal of both creativity and and business acumen.

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