Intel is ready to crack internet TV

The Verge has a great piece on the potential for Intel to succeed in their latest digital home initiative…

The fact that Intel doesn’t by and large work in media could be a handicap, but if you stop to reconsider, it potentially gives Intel a huge advantage. Think about it: how was Google ever going to make a deal with Viacom when Viacom was suing Google? How were companies like Google or Yahoo built on selling advertising ever going to meaningfully share data and revenue with other companies built on advertising like TV networks? How were Sony or Samsung ever going to create a smart TV platform large enough to compete with cable when their businesses depended on selling giant multithousand-dollar screens that were only updated every few years? How would Apple, or Microsoft, or Amazon, or Netflix create new deals for live TV with networks when they already had huge businesses in selling digital video in completely different formats? Intel has no conflicts of interest with television; it has no strategy taxes. All it has are years of R&D into hardware for the connected home, a solid history of developing hardware standards and prototypes, and many, many chips built for graphics-intensive, generally stationary devices that badly need somewhere to go.

This has long been an area of interest for me and I hope they succeed here because the industry needs a good kick in the ass.

Wii U


I picked up a Wii U system for the kids and we have definitely been enjoying it. First impressions are solid. Setup is pretty simple and the gamepad charged up while we had dinner.


As with quite a few devices I’ve owned the system wanted to connect right away to check for an update. Though it happened again with each of the two games we have as well. We have Nintendo Land (bundled) as well as Super Mario U….

I have no idea what the nature of the updates were but can tell you that they took quite a while to download – particularly the initial system one which failed actually a handful of times. I had to eventually consult the online support to find out that it might take a few tries and in fact the download resumes with each connect. Unfortunately all this downloading kept the kids on edge the whole time. All they wanted to do was play Mario.

Today we’ve definitely spent a considerable amount of time playing Mario and with the downloads behind us, the experience has been great. Nintendo definitely has a winner here. Graphics and sound are vastly improved and I’m thankful the prior controllers work along with all our games.

Still a ton more to explore … I noticed that Netflix, YouTube and Hulu are all on the initial grid, but all are stub apps requiring more downloads …

update I’ve got YouTube and Netflix loaded up and they look great! Seriously good. YouTube actually has a pretty sophisticated UX … Easy access to subscriptions and watch later lists.

Google TV’s Tough Sell

The WSJ has a report today about the challenge in selling GoogleTV to traditional players in the TV business. This should not come as a surprise to anyone given the long history of resistance to change from media companies in general.

In recent weeks, Google has met with officials of TV networks including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to encourage them to work with the service, according to people familiar with the matter. Content owners, though, are skeptical that Google can provide a business model that would compensate for potentially cannibalizing TV owners existing broadcast businesses.


I still don’t see the problem this is solving even as a technology early adopter. I don’t find myself wishing I could more actively search on TV. I take a quick spin and either find something of moderate interest or just tune out.

The post-iPad digital home

I’ve been thinking about the potential impact the iPad will make on my home and there’s a natural progression for a certain hobby of Apple’s which of course is AppleTV.

If the iPad succeeds at becoming the predominant home use system as I believe it easily can, it could really be an “instead of” not an “in addition to” sort of thing.  Let me explain …

Apple is positioning the iPad as a third device category which it definitely is as they’ve laid out the initial plan.  Once it arrives though, the amount of time my MacBookPro is going to get at home will be quite limited.  Currently the MacBookPro sits on my desk fully wired and connected to an array of devices.  I’ve got 3 hard drives, a slew of USB widgets and a second monitor.  Our home media collection streams via an AppleTV connected through our whole house AV system and enables music to stream anywhere and video you reach any tv.  The AppleTV is the set top box and my MacBookPro is essentially serving as an overpriced NAS.    When it’s time to do some photo or video processing I do need the Mac, but that’s something I do occasionally rather than daily.

The AppleTV or some revised iteration (Mac Mini home server edition?) combining network connected storage and speed could easily replace the Mac and sit on a rack in a closet hosting our personal cloud.  While the AppleTV works well, it’s been restricted based on lack of attention.  The iPad’s sync capability needs to be adjusted slightly to accommodate wireless sync, but as that’s already something AppleTV handles easily it should not be too challenging a change.

How might this all this all start to work together?

  • When I walk into the home and connect to the network, the iPad would know to sync with my home automatically.  Any media captured, files created or changed would automatically push up to the system waiting at home and the network would also push new content found (podcasts downloaded, pre-ordered new content etc) back to me keeping both sides current.
  • Other iPads would also be notified and could suggest we exchange mutual files based on tags of each other (faces from iPhoto, shared playlists, calendar updates, “digital fridge notes” etc)
  • While in the home, we’d be able to move media fluidly between screens.  Watching a video on the TV, but want to continue it in the home office or bed?  No problem, the iPad easily receives the stream and lets you continue where you left off.  Music could be handled in the same way … someone wants to watch a video in the family room when you are listening to music, simply switch the stream over to the iPad.
  • Apple’s Remote app for iPhone is a nice but limited suggestion on how home media control might work given the smaller screen of the iPhone.  With the iPad, you really can have a substantial view and control of what’s playing across various rooms in the home.

This is of course my “limited” future vision for how these things might come together, but I think speaks to the reality we could be living in as soon as later this year.

ASUSTek envisions the digital home ecosystem

While the idea is not a new one, only Apple has really “succeeded” at bringing a successful vision of their digital home ecosystem to market with a good degree of success.  Microsoft only lightly pushes their version today though I’m figuring quite a bit will change when Windows 7 arrives for release.

Asus is actually in an interesting position.  They sell both Windows as well as Linux products and offer some very big bang for the buck.  The customers I’ve come across (mainly on the netbook side) are quite brand loyal and it would be easy to see how a lower cost mobile device could also be added as a control point in the home.

As Mr. Shih envisions the future, families will want to surf the Web and watch Internet video on televisions

“Today, the family crowds around a small PC screen when they are sharing digital media and getting on the Internet,” he said. “In the living room, it should be more convenient to use the big screen.”

Didn’t Microsoft fail at this vision with WebTV, I asked. Now the technology is much better, Mr. Shih replied.

To Mr. Shih, there’s no reason to stop at the TV.

“To make the whole digital home possible, in the eventual state every wall becomes a display,” he said, “The mirror should become a screen.”


“Because you want to blend it into your life,” he explained. “You already watch the mirror.”

And how will you control all these screens?

In Mr.Shih’s view, as likely as not, it will be on a cellphone. And the company is working on a low cost smart phone called the Eee Phone. [via Bits Blog]

I’ve always been excited by the prospect of the digital home and will be quite interested to see how this pans out.