Television-computer convergence

Paul Boutin wrote in Slate Magazine, The Myth of the Living-Room PC,
"the one thing I wanted to see hard data on was conspicuously absent
from Jobs’ keynote. It’s been nearly a year since Apple added
downloadable videos and a couch-surfing remote to its lineup." And,
"Seven months after Viiv’s launch, it seems what happened in Vegas
stayed in Vegas: Dell’s big rollout never happened, and the rumor
that Apple was launching a 50-inch plasma-screen Viiv turned out to
be pure baloney."

I think the source of Boutin’s disappointment is his expectation
that the "Living-Room PC" will arrive as a computer that can do
television. The consumer electronics companies see it differently –
the computer as just one more component of a television. Boutin’s
anticipated convergence arrived years ago, and few people noticed.

Of course we all know that DVR’s are really computers, but I was
surprised when I opened a new Sony WEGA HDTV television box and out
fell a GPL for Linux. And while I can get the source code from
Sony’s web site, there is apparently no way without a screwdriver
and more courage than I possess to alter the TV software.

That’s fine with me because all I really want to do with my
television is watch television. On, off, channel, volume. Sony gets
it. Those of us in the computer business sometimes expect our
customers to be far more interested in computers than they really
are. Sure, many of them are experts in various computing fields and
could do a lot, so it’s great to have all the dials and knobs they
can turn if needed. But when they’re instead focused on banking,
medical research, or retail logistics, they shouldn’t have to worry
about computers – no more than I have to configure my GRUB
parameters to watch TV.

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