How Will You Watch?
How will we consume TV in the future? This day and age is a critical point along the trajectory of TVs, which are no longer just portals through which we receive network programming. Instead, these devices are becoming connected, either through embedded wireless technologies or thanks to peripherals such as connected game consoles, connected Blu-ray players, or connected set-top boxes.
Damir Skripic, product line manager of Connected Entertainment for NETGEAR, www.netgear.com, says the future was not always certain for set-top boxes. In fact, he says it was even assumed this market would be swallowed up by others such as Wi-Fi-enabled TVs or connected Blu-ray players.
“In 2009 (however) that kind of thinking changed quite a bit,” Skripic says, pointing to companies like Roku and Apple as those leading the change. “… And that kind of woke up the whole set-top-box market—(think of it as a) companion box for your TV.”
Skripic is not alone in his assessment of this portion of the connected-TV/streaming-media market. ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, expects connected set-top boxes to reach 57 million shipments by 2017, suggesting the devices are gaining traction in the consumer-electronics space.
NETGEAR projects continued growth during the next 4-5 years, and Skripic says thanks to the 19-20% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) the company expects during this time period, the market for set-top boxes could even approach the size of the Blu-ray player market.
Today, the company unveiled its latest line of next-generation NeoTV streaming players designed to capitalize on this market potential. Starting at just $49 for the entry-level NeoTV device and maxing out at $69 for NeoTVMAX with a host of new features, these devices offer an enticing value proposition for the connected consumer looking to take their TV-viewing experience to the next level.
The three new devices—NeoTV, NeoTVPro, and NeoTVMAX—will be offered on a new hardware platform that runs on a faster processor and supports HTML 5. The devices themselves are also 20% smaller than their predecessors.
Each device uses built-in Wi-Fi to stream more than 100 channels to your TV in HD, including favorites such as Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. The latest features include Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) technology that streams content from an Intel WiDi-equipped laptop to your TV (Pro and MAX versions), and a unique QWERTY keyboard and remote control (MAX version), among other enhancements.
NETGEAR is not the only company hoping to change the way we watch and interact with TV. At last week’s Wii U preview event, Nintendo, www.nintendo.com, unveiled an application for Wii U owners in the U.S. and Canada that will let them “find, watch, and engage” with video entertainment in new ways.
The application, called Nintendo TVii, represents Nintendo’s bid to become the main hub of your home entertainment; and it just may work. Using Wii U and its unique GamePad controller, you’ll not only be able to stream video services like Netflix to the console and onto your TV, TVii will allow you to interact with live TV and your DVR service, creating a platform that could be game changing.
Nintendo has a knack for bringing a fresh perspective to the mass market and making it stick. Now that more consumers will have access to a connected-TV experience through their Wii U console, the broader idea of connected TV may be on its way to full, mainstream acceptance. In fact, as the holiday season creeps upon us, NETGEAR’s Skripic believes devices that support a connected-TV experience will gain even more marketshare before the end of Q4 2012.