[opendtv] Keyboard and Mouse, Are They Hindrance?

  • From: dan.grimes@xxxxxxxx
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:51:26 -0800

Bert wrote:
"That's just one of many possibilities. I think a huge percentage of the
population has gotten very familiar with browsing the web, on any number of
devices. I just can't understand why everybody becomes a luddite when they
watch TV."

And Mike wrote:
"... some of it is true when we switch from work to entertainment we do not
want to see keyboard and mouse anymore."

In my opinion, neither the keyboard and mouse or the browser/search engine
are the problem:  it is the programming, or more specifically, the
inability to get to good programming, that is the problem.

It isn't such a big deal to use those tools for a short period of time as
long as they can get one to programming that one wants to consume
relatively quickly.  In my experience, it can take upwards of an hour to
search through the seemingly endless availability of ridiculously poor
programming before finding something I want to watch from the open

We have very similar problems with MVPDs.  How many people cycle through
all the MVPD channels to claim "100 channels and nothing is on"?  The
difference is that they only have to push one button to get to the next
available program.  (And the MVPD has the disadvantage of mostly linear
programming.  But that is changing.)  With the browser+keyboard+mouse,
there is a lot more thought that must go into it than pushing the Channel
Up or Down button.

Several applications and boxes, such as GoogleTV or Netflix, have attempted
to make programming more accessible (in the sense of finding it).  But as I
believe Craig has pointed out, they are no where sophisticated enough to
get the consumer to the programming they want to watch fast enough.

And, of course, embedding the current inadequate tools on a TV will not
really solve the issue.

So if there could be a good portal for searching and getting to the media
we want to watch in a very quick amount of time, and be able to switch
between several sources efficiently, I don't think people would mind using
a keyboard and mouse or browser.

But the dynamic doesn't end there.  There are two forms of media in the
consumer's mind at the time they turn on the TV: programming they want to
find but don't know about, and programming they know about and specifically
want to watch at that time.  It isn't too hard to find a program that is
known and wants to start watching at that time.  And I don't think the
portal or hardware matters too much to people.  Booting a device, hooking
up a cable, using a keyboard and mouse, are all relatively short tasks if
you know what you want to consume, even if we don't know the exact portal
the specific programming is available on (and there are lots of
possibilities).  But quite often we sit down to relax and just want
something to watch but we don't know what.

This problem of finding unknown programming of interest is something that
all distribution outlets suffer from.  Whether it be the MVPD providing a
program guide or GoogleTV's Revue App having "channels" of common themes,
or the web browser that has no clue what you are looking for and can only
use words to make the link, they all suffer from a lack of description and
search-ability.  No tools (keyboard, mouse, motion sensing, gesture
sensing, iPad, etc.) is going to make up for the lack of description.

I do think there are a couple of potential portals (is that the right word
for this use?) that have made some good strides.

One of these is Netflix and Amazon has some similarities.  With Netflix, I
take some time one evening to search and find media through their website.
The tools to search are weak and their web tools not very clear but one can
find what is mostly available and to one's likes.  Included in this are
rating systems that help link programming that might be interesting to the
account holder.  Categorization also helps.  But what really helps the
efficiency is that I can put dozens of programs into my "Instant Queue".
Then, when I come home and sit down in front of the TV for dinner, an
example of when I want to interact with my lasagne instead of the
controlling device, I fire up the embedded Netflix App, go to my Instant
Queue, and select a program that I fancy at the moment and I have quickly
accessed media I want to consume, efficiently and directly.  And I don't
even have to consume commercials. (Don't tell Netflix this but I would pay
double what they are charging because of these features!)

Of course, with Netflix, one is limited to only the programming Netflix
provides.  So far, I find it adequate enough to keep me interested.  I even
get to consume media that I usually miss (e.g., PBS's Nova) or programming
not commonly available (e.g., BBC programming).  But for some it might not
be enough.  But if someone could get a portal out there that covered the
majority of the programming and would work with all AV devices, it would be
a very big deal, a very big deal indeed.

I realize that the Apple Store has this same paradigm but there is a
limitation with it: it only goes to Apple devices.  Okay, a few others,
too, but it doesn't go to my TV.  Actually, I believe the AppleTV box would
solve this so I am kind of surprised it wasn't more successful.

There have been other attempts like "Fling" and other push-to applications
but they are far from efficient, useable, ubiquitous or inter-operative.

Well I have gone on way too long and I am sure I have far surpassed most
reader's interest level.  The point I really wanted to make is that the
lack of accessibility to unknown quality programming is the biggest
hindrance to emerging technologies right now and not the physical interface
such as a keyboard, mouse, iDevice, etc.


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