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Web Video on TV Gets Practical: Welcome to 2010

January 8, 2010

New technology about to make it just as easy to use the internet on your TV as it is to channel-surf. At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, which just wrapped up this week, an award-winning  software company unveiled  a production model of the kind of device that will make this possible. Here’s a photo:

Full Qwerty keyboard on back; trackpad with home page button and play button on front

It’s the Qwerty-keyboard-integrated remote control for the Boxee Box, a Web TV unit that will ship in the second quarter of 2010. It’s a brilliant design that someone should have thought about long ago: combine a keyboard like you would find on a Blackberry or smart phone with a television remote control. It’s the first one I’ve seen, but you can bet it won’t be the last. As U.S. consumers become increasingly used to texting with their thumbs, a keyboard-remote will become an obvious household must-have.

Here’s a link to the Vimeo video that explains the Boxee solution to getting the Internet on your TV:

I had originally envisioned a remote with a trackball paired with an ergonomic wireless keyboard, but the keyboard on the back of the remote is even better for casual TV and web video viewing. I am sure this design will become a copied and common way to interact with the internet through your HDTV monitor over the next year or two, unless an even better design trumps it. I still think a small trackball would be better than the 4-way, game-controller-like trackpad, but that’s for someone else to decide.

By the way, I am not endorsing the Boxee Box or its software, which is free; there are other, similar set-top boxes that integrate the internet with your television. But this remote controller design is a game-changer, in my opinion: one of those things that’s so simple, it makes you think, “Wow, why didn’t I think of that?”

Along with new technology like Web-TV boxes, I am seeing another trend summarized in this article about a fresh crop of new app stores opening up for use with Web-TV. This is just a continuation of the trend of offering popular, useful computer applications on mobile devices like the iPhone and its competitors.

Obviously, all of this is good news for me and for other web video producers, but it’s also good news for consumers, since it means the quality of web video will go up, and the quantity of web video sites and videos on those sites will also increase. It’s also good news for businesses and organizations, since it means their web video content will be much easier to access by a much wider audience.

All this means web video production is about to become a very important part of the business marketing world.  Actually, it already is, because advertising dollars are moving to the internet and have been for several years. It’s a fact. Check any statistics you want, and you will see a spike in online advertising, along with corresponding leveling and falling lines associated with radio and newspaper advertising. TV advertising is still sluggishly climbing, but it has lost a lot of market share to the World Wide Web. Online ads are cheaper and targeted better through smart software like Google Ads.

So whether you want to make short films or videos for the internet, or whether you just want to have access to better content when you want it than you can get on cable television, things are about to get a whole lot easier and more interesting. The platforms are already in place: YouTube, Vimeo, etc. The technology is locking into place as we speak with new gadgets like the Boxee Box and its innovative remote. Now, all that’s left is to produce the content that viewers will seek out. That’s why attention to quality storytelling is becoming more necessary than ever before.

I don’t do a lot of tech talk on this blog, and the only reason I’m doing it today is to underscore the point of what the rest of the blog is about: short form narrative is a format that is here to stay and is being forced into the mainstream by internet viewing habits. Those internet viewing habits are about to be translated to the television screen, where I expect the effect to be at least two-fold: people will demand more high quality short content on the TV/Web and they will also become more patient watching long-form narrative content on the internet. That demand points to a coming golden age for short film and video producers, especially considering the cost of producing content that captivates audiences has dropped to the point that anyone with a camera cell phone can now make a video or short film that LOTS of people will watch.

Make way for the future!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joshua permalink
    January 10, 2010 7:21 AM

    ummm why buy a device…? Just use an S-Video cable and a wireless mouse… I do it all the time…

    • January 11, 2010 12:16 AM

      Good question! If you already have a computer, it’s a no-brainer: I’d do exactly what you did. The Boxee Box is for people who don’t have computers, or who don’t want to hook theirs up to the TV.

      On a side note, S-video is being replaced by component and HDMI. The laptop I got a year ago to do video editing actually has a VGA port and an HDMI port, but no S-video port. The LCD HDTV we just got at Target does have an S-video input, but only one; it has 3 HDMI inputs and two sets of component inputs. While S-video is definitely better than composite, it’s not as good as component or HDMI, apparently.

      Thanks for the comment!

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