Thursday, May 24, 2007

HDTV 2.0

Finally! According to a story released this morning by Dealerscope (, HP plans to release a flat panel HDTV later this year with built-in wireless Internet access and pre-loaded "MediaSmart" software.

As I opined in my post on February 19, I really cannot believe how long it has taken television and DVR manufacturers to figure out that their equipment should come with wireless Internet access standard. Game console makers led the way with units that seamlessly blend entertainment and Internet access. TiVo moved things forward earlier this year when it started selling wireless card adapters that owners could add to the their DVRs, although in my opinion they should have been built in to the Series 3. Now, finally, the electronics industry has woken up. I predict that by the end of the year this will be standard equipment that all new HDTV shoppers look for on sets. While HP's market share in televisions is negligible, I think this idea is so long overdue that others will rush in immediately.

Why did it take so long for manufacturers to reach this epiphany? Say hello to our old friend, the Paradigm Shift. Because Internet access is associated with computers, computer manufacturers were expected to solve the problem of getting Internet access to our TVs. Which Microsoft has tried to do for years with the Media Center, with virtually no interest from consumers. Despite interest in Video on Demand (VOD), who wants to have to figure out how to hook up their computer to their TV and DVR? Now, with televisions pre-equipped with wireless Internet access, services such as the Amazon's UnBox and the many other VOD options that have been on the market will have a presentation platform embedded in their customer's homes. It will take a few more years before we all have them, but the end is in sight.

P.S. A friend of mine just suggested why TiVo, at least, has been so tentative in adding wireless access to their product. His thought was that DirectTV and other content provider partners were probably not keen to have the increased competition for their VOD offering, and may have applied pressure to TiVo to not be too aggressive on this front. Sadly, that makes sense. But TV manufacturers should have no such restraints on their innovation.

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