Intel’s General Manager, Erik Huggers, has confirmed at D: Dive Into Media today that the company will be entering the TV market albeit in a slightly different fashion compared to most. Intel wants to deliver TV over the internet, using the same methods we’re already used to packed into something with “beautiful industrial design.” Like other TV cable boxes, Intel’s offering will also feature “live television, catch-up television, on-demand, [and] a set of applications,” according to Huggers.
The hardware will also include a camera, which can apparently watch users as they watch TV – something that will most likely be used for targeted ads. The camera could also be used as a recognition tool to provide personalised show recommendations for users, and with any third party applications like Skype. Huggers also noted that the camera can be used for synchronising viewing with viewers across the country for a “real social experience” according to The Verge.
“We’re working with the entire industry to figure out how to get proper television,” said Huggers, who emphasised how much harder it is to make deals to provide the content then to actually make the consumer box. Huggers said consumers want ”choice, control, and convenience,” in regards to how content will be accessible, going on to say that Intel “believe that there is value in bundles.” Which is exactly what they will be offering, but not in a la carte form, “I don’t believe that the industry is ready for a la carte.” Instead Intel will offer their content that focusses on “curation” instead of “volume,” which basically means we could see content-specifc bundles like ‘Sports’ as the only bundle that a user can buy, instead of being forced into buying an ‘Entertainment’ pack on top of premium extras such as sports.
Intel will use the HEVC video codec instead of H.264, which Hugger’s says the company feels outputs the best video signal. A concern for Intel is the data caps that users will have on their broadband. They said they think users will stay within them, and in the long term these caps will either go or rise as a result in the demands of internet content.
Whats worth noting here though is how much performance this will likely take out of your internet connection. Here in the UK, Virgin Media offer a dedicated 10meg connection for its TiVo box subscribers, which also offers internet content like You Tube for users to watch, to stop it from affecting the performance of your actual internet connection. If Intel are thinking about offering a better quality video output than H.264 – which takes a lot out of your internet connection as it is – they are going to face a lot of challenges ensuring that the video quality is constant throughout extended periods of viewing live TV.
In terms of cost, Intel are not likely going to offer this service for anything cheaper than a standard cable subscription, saying that its “not about a value play,” instead offering a “vastly superior experience” compared to the [future] opposition. Huggers also touched on other things the Intel Box would improve including channel listing grids, content discovery, and other features that just make it a more cohesive experience for users.
TV is one of the most crowded markets right now. You have the console makers who look like the real winners from the get-go of this whole war, then you have companies like Roku, Boxee, and Intel trying to make their own solutions that only really do one thing compared to the consoles. But if it just so happens to do that one thing better than a console, people may still be open to the idea of having two boxes in the living room rather than one.
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