Connected TVs – Part II

Having explored what IPTV, Internet TV and OTT TV actually means in the last post, let’s go on and see what some of the major players across USA, UK and Europe have to offer:

googleTV drawing

Google TV (USA)

Built on Android and featuring the Chrome browser with a full version of Flash Player 10.1, Google TV is supposed to bring “the web to your TV and your TV to the web,” in Google’s words. The platform seems important for Google as it’s an opportunity for even more ad revenue and a possible monetisation path for YouTube.

Its main features include:

– Normal TV and DVR functionality: Choose channel, programmes, record

– Internet functionality: The built in browser allows video (Amazon Video-On-Demand, Netflix, Youtube, etc), photos (flickr), music (last.fm), online games, available on the web to be  accessed through the TV

– Combining live TV services and the web – e.g. Live TV and live twitter feeds across the world at an Obama speech broadcast or watching a World Cup game whilst looking up player stats OilSpillGoogleTV

– Android Market app store – Having the same OS on your network connected TV and smartphone and tablets should make it easy for clever devs to build all sorts of interesting apps allowing the devices to interact in weird and wonderful ways.

– Custom home screen – Add favourites, channels, music and websites

These features all sound very promising. In addition to all of the above not only will Google TV devices have remotes with some form of QWERTY keyboard but you’ll even be able to use Android phones as remotes. This opens up some extremely intriguing possibilities, like searching for content using Google Voice Search and navigating by gesture but we will have to wait to see when, or even if, these features come into play. The company is also launching Google TV with an impressive array of partners, each of whom adds something different to the platform. Some examples include;

  • Logitech is building a Google TV “companion box”. This box will be able to control an entire A/V rack using Harmony technology or an Android phone as the remote
  • Sony is also building BRAVIA Internet TVs and Blu-ray players that have the platform imbedded inside the equipment

GoogleTV Homescreen

As we get closer to late 2011 when the whole thing is scheduled to be open-sourced development is expected to really kick-off. On the software side of things, Google TV has a regular tiles-based home screen.This allows you to access apps and content directly. Tying everythingtogether, as with most Google products, their most famous interface element, a search box, is present. As soon as you start typing the search results from a variety of content sources are displayed and it brings up not only the next few episodes of the show on TV but also past episodes available to stream from online video providers like Hulu, NBC, Netflix and others, as well as related content from YouTube and similar sites. These unified listings are Google’s attempt to merge web content with TV content – the idea is that to the end user it does not matter where the content is coming from as long as they can reach it.

YouView (UK)

formerly known as Project Canvas, is a partnership between four broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) and three communications companies (Arqiva, BT and TalkTalk). The platform, which has been planning to

youview homescreen

launch for while, will supposedly allow users access to a range of services such as television channels, radio stations, on-demand services and internet content using a set-top box and a broadband internet connection without the need for a subscription.

The set-top boxes will include a common electronic programme guide (EPG) that would allow users to flick freely backwards as well as forwards to see what’s on now along side everything from the last seven days. The set top boxes will include a PVR so viewers can pause live TV and record content and it will have on-demand services too. There is also a plan to offer an applications store to give users even more interactivity with the service.

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband – HbbTV (Europe)

HbbTV will be a service delivered in mainland Europe. It was first demonstrated in 2009, in France by France Télévisions and in Germany during the IFA and IBC exhibitions.. It is set to include traditional broadcast TV channels, catch-up services, VOD, an EPG, interactive advertising, personalisation, voting, games, social networking and other multimedia applications. HbbTV includes a feature that extends the concept of teletext to include video and high definition text.

Hbb logo

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