So CES 2012 is in full swing out in the Nevada desert and TV manufacturers are jumping on the Android bandwagon. It seems they’re all scrambling to show smart TVs running full blown Ice Cream Sandwich and frankly I’m fed up with it. When did it become a good thing to have crap impeding your television viewing experience? It was bad enough when picture in picture and caller ID became value add features for TVs, now let’s just throw a graphical user interface in the mix. Call me old fashioned, but when I sit down to watch Dr. Who, I’m mad that the box with the channel number on it stays up too long.
I know folks be loving their apps and for some reason this has translated into a demand to project them onto a giant HDTV, but take a moment to wonder if that crap is actually necessary? Have you ever tried to read blocks of text on a big screen TV? I don’t like checking e-mail on my TV let alone working on spreadsheets. I’m sure Garage Band or iMovie would make for great HDTV apps, but Angry Birds? The more app ecosystems begin popping up on big screens, the more apparent that a proper paradigm does not yet exist for one to be palatable.
What happened to the time when sitting down in front of your television meant actually watching something without distraction? A communal experience where you and your friends and family can enjoy a program together without weather widgets and a twitter ticker or a timeline vying for attention.
So I propose my ideal television viewing experience. Basically if I were a TV manufacturer this is what I would make.
You have your super thin 1080P screen which communicates wirelessly to an 8″ tablet. The tablet allows you to control your television, but it also gives you the ability to surf the web, run apps, watch what’s on other channels/youtube/netflix/hulu/etc., independent of what’s on the TV screen, which will always devote all of its real estate to whatever content is playing fullscreen, without any heads up display, not even a volume bar. Volume controls, channel information, format, menus, all the stuff that used to be part of a TV’s firmware will now be accessible only on your tablet. The hardware on your television will solely be focused on being a stinkin’ TV.
So let’s say I’m watching the game and a buddy messages me on my tablet that there’s a Twilight Zone marathon on another channel. I can then browse to that channel on my tablet and I can watch it right there while the game’s still on, or I can tap the “To TV” button and the Twilight Zone goes up on the television and the game on the tablet. I can keep up with the game if I so choose, or I could close the channel browser and put the tablet down to enjoy the Twilight Zone goodness, or I could open a Google+ Hangout with my buddy and video chat while watching the Twilight Zone.
I may be totally out of line, but I think people shop for big screen TVs because they’re envisioning filling every pixel with either Sports, or beautiful HD content, not because they can have more real estate to put apps and widgets. That may change with reports of children walking up to HDTVs and trying to control it by touching its screen. They very well may grow up and demand that television be completely obscured with notification boxes, but I propose that this is not the case now. We paid a lot for our idiot boxes and we’d prefer if they not be so smart.
P.S. If someone takes this idea and makes it into a reality, I don’t care if you take the credit, just give me one and we’ll be square.