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The next big thing: web applications for your TV

A new era for television

Alfred Hitchcock once said that “Television is like the American toaster. You push a button and the same thing pops up every time.” Well, not anymore.

The emergence of web applications for your TV means that you can now decide what you want to watch, when and how you want to watch it. The combination of the advantages of TV with those of the internet seems like a fairly obvious progression of technology. However, until now, this possibility has largely eluded the industry. Whereas TV and PCs used to have very separately defined roles, these boundaries are now blurring.

Online video watching has engulfed the industry in the short time it has been available, and every mainstream broadcasting company has clambered to get a piece of the action, (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4OD). With these websites, plus other non specific versions like YouTube, it is no wonder we have become accustomed to being able to decide when we watch our favourite programmes, rather than letting the broadcasters plan the timetable!

It has been claimed that the web also has far more ability to build and maintain communities, with its content being available at anytime, anywhere (unlike with traditional TV where location can restrict what you are able to watch).

The best of both worlds

So now we consider the combination of both. The internet has long offered consumers access to all modes of media without restrictions and boundaries. This has made it incredibly useful and popular as a mode of watching TV and films. Watching TV can be a very sociable activity, and the applications you access on the internet can reflect this, even if you don’t use them to watch TV programmes.

However, a cumbersome PC or small screen laptop does not have the same social advantages as a wide screen TV in the centre of your living room. This is why web applications for your TV are destined to be a hit; the freedom of internet access with the ease of watching TV. Not to mention the fact that a modern TV will inevitably have a much higher definition screen, and often better sound quality (particularly than a PC or laptop speakers.)

The integration of digital video viewing with TV, by way of broadband on your set top box, and internet enabled TVs, will also give a personal twist to your television viewing experience. An internet enabled TV will give you the ability to create your own TV profile, where you can add reminders, set recordings of your favourite shows, and store pre recorded programmes.

Google TV has taken off; Google claims there is no need for a consumer to choose between the benefits and uses of a TV against those of a PC. Google TV will offer a full web browser on your TV which means that the internet access will not be restricted to just watching programmes and films; you will also be able to access other websites.

What’s available

The Panasonic TV you see above was released in Europe in November 2009. As of this launch, a selection of Panasonic TVs will feature the “Viera Cast” software. This will be a free broadband internet connection which will give you access to a selection of websites relevant to television content. These TVs will not have browsers, but you will be able to access the internet content with the remote control, switching easily from the sites and the programme you are watching.

Although some may perceive this concept as too complicated to bother with, the idea that the internet can be navigated by the remote control should dispel these concerns. No one wants to make their lives harder than need be, but by the sounds of it, this integration should make TV watching simpler, whilst far more advanced.

Vizio has also announced a range of TVs that connect to the internet, so that you can watch television streamed from the web as well as visiting a host of websites. These include Facebook, YouTube and Rhapsody. It’s had good reviews as being easy to use due to good design, and the applications respond quickly.

The drawbacks

Of course, there will be other things to consider before taking part in this new technology. For example, many of you would spend more on a modern flat screen TV than you would on a PC. This would partially be because a PCs life span is regarded to be shorter. But when you introduce the internet to your TV set, you are also introducing the possibility of internet viruses. Although there will be software available to prevent and fix this, the effect it could have on the worth of your TV will still be something to consider.

There is also the high price tag attached to an internet enabled TV. If your current TV is relatively new, and you just can’t face parting ways with the necessary cash, don’t be disheartened! It’s possible to buy equipment to add to your set which will enable you to do many of the same things as an internet enabled TV.

The internet on your TV – what a winner

It seems that having the web on your TV is the next step in technology which we will soon take for granted. The integration of the uses of a PC and TV will make life simpler for those who don’t need to buy both products. It will also be handy for a busy family who want to avoid the arguments about who wants to watch what on the TV!

The internet offers endless options for entertainment which can be included in nights in with your friends. Now, put all of those internet benefits on to your new Internet TV… It’s got to be a winner.