When Eric Kim announced the CE 3100 Media Processor during his keynote, there was one thing needed to complete the picture to show how the new processor would be used in the field.
After all, several parties have attempted to bring the Internet to TV, but have failed because the typical user interface associated with the Internet doesn’t lend itself to the TV. It’s that classic conundrum: without great software the hardware isn’t worth its salt.
This is where Yahoo!’s partnership with Intel, and the joint announcement of the widget bar, comes into play.
Yahoo! has created an information bar that’s overlaid at the bottom of the TV screen. It can be populated by your favourite web applications, including things like Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Sports, Flickr, Blockbuster and eBay, with many more widgets promised in the future.
Once you’ve added and customised your widgets, you simply scroll through them until you find the one you want to use. After selecting the applet you want, a sidebar will open up that you can interact with.
Of the examples shown, the Flickr and Blockbuster widgets showed the most promise. First of all, with Flickr, you could select any of the pictures from your Flickr photo stream and you could also start a slideshow covering the whole screen.
The Blockbuster widget, on the other hand, accesses the movie rental company’s video-on-demand service and enables you to purchase and watch 1080p movies. Kim demonstrated the ability to watch a 1080p trailer and while it looked good, I’m sure ISPs would have a say in the amount of bandwidth being used to stream video-on-demand and it’s therefore probably not particularly viable for most of us with capped broadband connections.
So it all looked good until we started to think about things a bit more – what’s going to happen with text input? A remote control isn’t ideal for typing and more worryingly, it would give txt spkrs an incentive to not write in a coherent fashion. The more obvious option is of course a keyboard, but why would you want to have a keyboard in your living room? It defeats the purpose of not
having a home theatre PC.
After speaking to several Intel representatives, it wasn’t clear how the two companies were going to tackle this problem. The best answer I’ve had so far though is that text input won’t be a big focus of the Internet-on-TV experience and I guess that’s fair enough.
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