Internet killed the television star

All you need to know about internet television in 2013

With Sky Television NZ recently feeling a bit short due to English Premier League football’s subversion to BT , people are curious. How long will the black rectangle under the telly last? 

Here is brief rundown on what may appear in New Zealand living rooms in the not so distant future.

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Apple TV:

Steve Jobs was ahead of the pack and proved this with the launch of Apple TV in March 2007. 5 years later the platform is more relevant than ever. Apple TV allows users to access services like Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, Vimeo and Itunes to name a few.

The streaming player connects via the HDMI port to your television. It has a compulsory Ethernet port (which connects it to the internet), a power supply and an optical audio port.

So what does it do?

It essentially allows your TV to use Apple Apps. E.g. You can sit at your television and watch Youtube. You can also rent a movie from Itunes without having to use your Mac. The Apple TV system uses a custom remote for such tasks.

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Roku:

This brilliant device is the big seller in America. Extremely cheap, $50 USD in some instances, Roku is like Apple TV without the Apple hang-ups. Much like an Android to an Iphone, the Roku appears to be more expandable and allows users more access to services. It cannot access Youtube (a major let down) but sill boasts an impressive 750 channels as well as basic video games for the kids. Its no PS3 but is a well designed free flowing streaming media player that reputably has one of the best interfaces for selecting channels and services.

roku

 The Japanese word for the numeral 6.

So what does it do?

Same as Apple TV but minus Youtube and Itunes. (Normal consumers in mind)

Google TV

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“Google TV” sounds exciting right? Wrong. This platform is essentially Android on a television diet. The only thing interesting with Google TV at present are the devices that carry it (see Asus’s rendition of Darth Vader’s Chihuahua “The Cube” or Sony’s late 80s inspired  “NS-GZ7″)

Apart from the retro form factor, Google TV hasn’t really hit it’s straps. It may kick into gear soon as more big names begin to provide internet television access.

So what does it do?

An android phone on TV in a big, pretty way.

Android HDMI sticks:

androidonastick

These HDMI devices are rather nifty. You can currently find one on Trademe for less than $100 NZD. The Android HDMI option is essentially a mini computer/plug and play version of a fully functional android operating system. This means that when plugged into your television via the HDMI port your TV can be turned into an android enabled PC.

Unfortunately Android HDMI’s are not consumer friendly. Many require a wireless mouse or keyboard for practical operation and come from low budget no-name Chinese manufacturers (who would have thought). The cool part is that they are compact and extremely powerful. If you want a cheap and easy way to get Youtube, emails and other Android possible activity to your TV, this is the ghetto way to go about it.

So What does it do?

Puts Android on your TV.

Get Smart?

Smart TV's are the new PC?

Smart TV’s are the latest item to plaster every weekend newspaper in New Zealand. All the devices listed previously (Apple TV, Roku etc) turn “Dumb” TV’s into Smart TV’s. The other option is to buy a new TV, which is “Smart”, and you wont have to worry about it being dumb.

Translation: You can buy a Smart TV and allow it’s inbuilt hardware to provide some of the services listed in the streaming media players above.

Smart TVs are on the pricey side. At the cheapest end of the spectrum you are looking at north of $600.00 NZD. This is a significant sum considering the modest prices associated to the streaming media players ($60.00- $150.00 NZD). It seems that half of our population has recently purchased a cheap LCD “Dumb” TV. This rush on big screen “Dumb” LCD’s means streaming media players may be the best choice for your bank account and the environment.

Providers are the key

Kiwis get their internet from greedy ISP’s who, in many cases, charge for a fixed amount of gigabytes. The world laughs at our broadband pricing structures but the Vodafone’s and Telecoms of this world are not necessarily the central figures in the net TV saga. They may though, decide the final outcome.

Hulu, Netflix and the rest

Internet television has spawned a growing list of reputable content providers. Hulu, which is available on both Apple TV and Roku, provides a hangout for the ever mature Larry King and also boasts hundreds of other shows. MTV, MSNBC, Fox, Netflix, Disney, Youtube, UFC, NBA, Angry Birds (Roku and Android only) and HBO prove that online TV has the content to be an emerging threat to satellite and digital.

The catch

Many services such as Netflix and Hulu are not readily available for New Zealand users. This online content is restricted to geographic regions that are classified through our ISP’s (Internet providers). So sadly, Kiwis get denied when it comes to some of the coolest online TV services. A lot of options still work such as Youtube or Itunes (on Apple TV) but Netflix and Hulu are major, and almost necessary, providers of content for the net TV platform. So for now, Kiwis are left hanging.

Or are we?

Slingshot recently made headlines by promoting “Global Mode”. It’s a smart move and Slingshot can obviously smell blood from the sudden up-surge in domestic internet television interest. The company stated that the “Global Mode” service, which allows access to foreign services such as Hulu and Netflix, is primarily for tourists and guests to NZ. There is apparently nothing to stop domestic users from utilizing the service. The window for kiwi customers is wide open, for now. Slingshot have Global Mode currently as the main advertising banner on their website. “Tourists” are obviously their new target market.

This type of behaviour could be the crack before the dam bursts or Sky may move to shut down such operations from NZ ISP’s in the future.

So what should the consumer do?

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If watching Rugby or League undisturbed is important to you then it is best to stick with the tried and tested. NZ broadband speeds may be getting faster but the medium can still be inconsistent when compared to satellite transmission.

The good news is that more options are surfacing and Internet television will undoubtedly be the entertainment medium of the near future. The consumer will benefit and there will be more diversified choices at a lower price.

For now, figure out what shows are important to you. If your favourite shows are available via the services offered on the steaming media players’s you may want buy one and see what happens. It could save you from paying that routine sky bill that gently robs you of dollars and days each year.

 

Veratech builds mobile responsive web sites and creates digital marketing campaigns. For more info go to www.veratech.co.nz

 

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