In recent years, we’ve definitely seen a dramatic change in the shape, size, capability, and resolution of your home television set. Most of us can probably still remember the days of the old bulky – not to mention extremely unwieldy and heavy – CRT (that’s “cathode-ray tube”) TVs. What we thought of back in the day as being as good as it gets turns out was nothing of the sort. I still remember when the television industry first came out with High Definition and thought it a huge waste of time and money. I was certain it would just be a short-lived fad, like the cabbage patch kids or beanie babies. Then I had a chance to watch a football game in High Definition and never looked back. These days, to our eyes, standard definition anything is so inferior, so ridiculously pre-2000, that to even bother owning a device that ran such outdated tech was an insult.
Now, Netflix is pushing the boundaries even further. Realizing that consumers today want their TVs to be as smart and as reactive as their smartphones, the Los Gatos-based company that began by offering DVD rentals by mail via a subscription service and now has expanded into digital streaming and other entertainment ventures, has created a new program that certifies new smart TVs based on how fast the shows load and how fast the TVs turn on; too slow and you’re out. It’s a win-win for consumers. Televisions today must be able to compete with tablets and smartphones and so far, they’ve had a rough go trying to live up to the speed and memory of either one. With this new program and certification, Netflix is hoping to push TV hardware manufacturers to create new sets that are faster, more intuitive, and offer ease-of-use similar to that of a smartphone.
“A lot of this was inspired by innovation that was naturally happening in the phone and tablet space,” says Brady Gunderson, who is Netflix’s director of product development. “When I turn my phone on, I never really turned it on because it was never off — it just comes right back where I left off, in the app I’m on. If I’m reading a news article, I’ll be right back to that article. TVs, meanwhile, when you turn them off and turn them on again, there’s some time to reboot, they lose all context, and the network has to come up.”
I’m certain television tech will catch up to smartphones and tablets very soon. I speculate that the smart TVs of the future will basically be gigantic versions of smartphones. After all, that seems to be the prevailing trend in technology: even laptop and desktop user interfaces look very akin to blown-up versions of the interface you see on a smartphone.
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