Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Google and Apple TV

Over the past few weeks, you might have heard some rumblings from the tech world about Google TV or Apple TV, and you might have wondered what in the world Google (a search company) and Apple (a computer company) have to do with that box that sits in your entertainment center. Well wonder no more. You've got questions, and I've got the answers.

In a nutshell, Google and Apple are both trying to get inroads into more parts of your lives. If you have an internet connection, then you have access to all sorts of media via your computer. However, a lot of people don't like to watch media on their computer--they have big fancy television screens and surround sound systems for that. Now, these people could just hook their computers up to their televisions, and that would solve that problem. (I've done that--I had a laptop whose LCD light gave out. Instead of chucking the whole thing, I just hooked it up to my TV, and now I can watch whatever I want to watch online on the big screen. Worked like a charm.) But people don't want to hook their computers up to their TVs, mainly (I assume) because too many cables are involved. (It's not really difficult, but the amount and types of cables can be daunting.)

That's where Google and Apple TV come in.

Both are simple boxes that hook up to your television just like other AV components (DVD players, cable boxes, etc.) They bring the internet to your television in an easy to use manner. They have apps (like smart phones) for watching various things from YouTube to Netflix to Hulu to individual channels like HBO or TNT. They let you buy or rent movies or TV shows from online databases. Basically, they're trying to replace your cable/satellite provider, and they're getting really close, too.

Right now, you can comfortably watch pretty much any show you want to watch online, without paying for a TV subscription. The only hanging points are live shows, from sports to award ceremonies. ESPN lets you watch some things online for free, but only if you have internet supplied from certain companies (who are usually TV providers in addition to being internet providers).

The good news is that with heavy hitters like Google and Apple entering the fray, things are likely to change even more quickly than they have been. I really don't think we're too far off from the day when you pay for a single service (internet), and that provides your internet, phone and television needs. Yes, you can bundle all those different services into one bill today, but I'm talking only paying for internet--not for phone or TV. Sound good to you?

It might not be too far off.

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