"2010 saw two major developments in the TV market: 3D, and the Web." So says? Jon Stokes in an important opinion piece discussing the future of TV posted on industry journal Ars Technica.
It's a long, thoughtful piece, the first of a five-part series, well worth the read and impossible to adequately summarize here. Ars Technica “asked our forum community of early adopters to give us a look at the composition of their current home theater systems. The Ars A/V crowd is about as wired as it gets, and whatever they're using can give some insight about the real state-of-the-art in TV—not the marketing-driven state-of-the-hype, but where things are at in the real world, and where they might go shortly," Stokes explains.
Some highlighted findings:
"The first thing that leaps out at me as I read through the forum thread is that TV has definitely been redefined... For most of its existence, the term "television" has generally signified a combination of a screen and a service, where the service is basically a source of channels that display different shows at different times. But recently—and this is especially true for early adopters—the term has come to denote a growing pool of cloud-hosted content, accessible on-demand. In other words, TV is shifting from being a 24-hour spectacle that you can peek in on, to being a digital library."
"The first trend isn't so much a trend as it is an observation: the combination of Netflix streaming and Hulu (News - Alert) has turned out to be a very potent and popular alternative to traditional cable or over-the-air programming. Netflix in particular is extremely popular, and many of our thread's participants are using Netflix streaming, often on the PS3, where Netflix streams in 1080p."
"The other part of the content picture is, of course, Bittorrent. Though the word didn't come up much in the thread, there was enough evidence that the protocol is still a popular content distribution vehicle if you know what to look for."
"The most popular option for streaming video by far is an HTPC. Many of our users list an HTPC as a core part of their home theater setup, and a very few specify the Mac mini, leaving me to conclude that the rest are running Windows or Linux... As for media extenders, the PS3 and AppleTV seem to be the most popular, especially the former."
"The one thing that all of the posters agreed on is that when it comes to connecting the entertainment center devices to the network, wired Ethernet is the only way to go. Everyone is using Gigabit Ethernet to connect their gear, and it makes sense. First, you get dead-simple, guaranteed bandwidth. No fussy wireless connections that can drop or stutter. Then there's the security issue—to get all of your home theater devices onto a wireless network, you'll probably have to forego WPA2 PSK in favor of something weaker... Ultimately, the preference for wired Ethernet comes down to the fact that some devices will require it, and if you already have a switch sitting there then you might as well plug the rest of your equipment into it."
Edited by Charles West