15 Jan 2012

Smart TV – the battle for your living room

With the UK’s analogue signal due to be finally switched off this year, the smart TV industry’s biggest players are gearing up for a battle for Britain’s living rooms.

By the end of the year, all of Britain will have switched to digital only TV but that’s just the start of the revolution.

We have so much choice when it comes to television and it’s all going to get a lot more complicated soon.

Nowadays, you don’t just have to decide if you want a TV with a 3D display, you have to decide if you want a so called Smart TV. A television that connects directly to the internet to allow you to use services including the BBC iPlayer and chat to your friends on Facebook.

So it’s already complicated but now Google and Apple are joining the party. Earlier this week at an industry trade fair LG, Samsung and Sony unveiled televisions running the new Google TV system.

The internet giant Google which through Android is dominating the smart phone market wants to do the same to television. Its key selling point what its best at: search – being able to instantly find what you want to watch from the comfort of your couch.

Read more from Benjamin Cohen on Technology on his blog

This year Apple is understood to be launching a new TV product at the moment it has a plug in box which hasn’t set the world on fire but it’s rumoured that apple will start producing TV sets and if the patents we’ve seen turn into real products, it could herald a revolution in television.

All of your Apple purchased content in one place, you’ll be able to control a TV through gestures, and they’ve even patented a holographic Star Trek-esque holographic display

But what’s it going to be called? After the iPad, the iPod and the iPhone there is one obvious possibility.

We’ve been told Apple’s founder Steve Jobs phoned up ITV and after they checked it wasn’t a prank, he offered to buy it, well the name anyway.

Unsurprisingly ITV turned Apple down. But whatever Apple decide to call it, the big question is will it make as big an impact as Apple’s other “i” successes.

One former ITV executive says it will be broadcasters not technology companies in the driving seat.

So the war is now on the box and set, one company, Virgin Media is already in the trenches- it’s smart box Tivo is in a quarter of a million homes.

This is a critical year in the history of British television, by October, the analogue TV signal which have been with us since the 1930s will be switched off. We’ll all be going digital and that will mean tough choices about which technology to buy.

As television becomes smarter but more complicated you might pine for the good old days when everything was decided for you.


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