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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Farewell to television as we know it...? Discuss

Farewell to television as we know it...? Discuss
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The Mighty
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Well the sports issue was within arm's reach but they closed up shop and kicked me out. And I'm out of toilet paper.
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Dec 13, 2017, 01:19 PM
Let's speculate on this:
With higher-speed bandwidth becoming cheaper and more available, a few big companies that would normally offer TV or phone service are preparing to offer their content via direct streaming subscriptions. You will be able to "watch television" on a Mac, a PC, or a cheap-arse Chromebook. This, to me, is Blow #1 to television as we know it.

The other day, Best Buy was advertising a 2017 Samsung 55" 4K Smart LED TV, and it's actually quite a nice TV for what it is (not OLED or QLED, but still excellent). Price? $500 new. Prices have come down so much on big-screen TVs, because they have to compete against people doing everything on their phones. Not to mention, a lot of big TVs are heavy, expensive, fixed to a room, fixed to a bunch of cables, and difficult to service and ship (I suppose that you could get a protection plan that has a delivery guy come out, but still, that's more money thrown away...). Basically, "television" is inconvenient. This, to me, is Blow #2 to television as we know it.

With Verizon offering unlimited 4K streaming (round numbers, $100/mo.) to your smartphone, 4G bandwidth is being stretched, and 5G will be coming online. When I first had my iPhone SE setup, the staff were simultaneously watching the Pats game on their own phones and helping a customer setup an iPhone 8 Plus. The availability to "watch TV on your phone" will increase as higher-speed cellular bandwidth becomes globally available, and as consumer demand for smartphones increases. Naturally, this will further draw consumers away from going out of their way to watch a matte screen that they can't interact with, to pulling out their phone to "stay connected" however they can, even if it means a small screen and choppy audio. This, to me, is Blow #3 to television as we know it.

And there is a fourth blow, that will be coming online by the turn of the decade: Virtual Reality. Instead of staring at the same rectangular display in your room, imagine experiencing movies like a forcefield surrounding your very being, thus putting you at the center of the action. For the past two years, With.in has premiered their own series of VR-inspired free movies, which currently requires two very accessible devices: your current smartphone, and a pair of eyeglasses, to focus on each half of your phone's screen to simulate 3D. The effect on the viewer is a deep immersion into the scene, to scan the environment a full 4pi steradians with adaptive sound. In many ways, this may rejuvenate post-modernist creativity, as soon independent channels, such as on a prototype "YouTube VR," will make the "need to be immersed" the dominating escapist force in the entertainment industry. Who would even want to go back to those antiquated, impersonal screens that we used to call TVs that you can't do anything with? This, to me, is Blow #4 to television as we know it, and also the last blow to television as we know it.

So, thoughts?
Yours truly, And.reg, "The Mighty" Pain in the Ass
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Dec 13, 2017, 01:59 PM
You missed the elephant in the room. Cable has continued annual price increases, much faster than inflation. Even though people have many more forms of entertainment available, mostly at better prices, and tend not to like broadcast scheduling.

As people ask for more choices and competition, Cable continues big packages at ever-higher prices, ignoring growing competition. I'd call it a case of denial, and it's driving steady drops in cable subscriptions.

It's gotten so bad they're trying to push the rate increases onto the internet side, to hobble competitive options. Along with bandwidth caps, again to force people back to a choice they're rejecting. You can get generous bundle deals, where you almost get cable for free if you pay through the nose for internet. Or you can pay high prices directly for a solo service.

Whenever internet service becomes more competitive, the house will come crashing down. Possibly when SpaceX gets Starlink going. Test satellites expected in 2018, service beginning in perhaps 2020. It's also possible 5G will make cellular competitive for internet (stable speed, without caps).
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
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Dec 13, 2017, 02:01 PM
Some further thoughts on cheap, big TVs.

TVs used to be repairable and last forever. The glass was so thick as to be near indestructible, now its paper thin flimsy and the tiniest crack means you throw out the whole unit. Even if you don't, you have a shortened lifespan. Plasmas are useless or dirt cheap now because they are all failed or failing, early model 40"+ TVs had 13" MacBook resolutions and the state of the art of HD still has a couple more jumps to go before they stop increasing it every five years. Software will be another life limiter as services come and go and merge and collapse.

VR is still a conundrum. Immersion is a nice idea for gaming, but I often have the TV on with my laptop in front of me and regularly picking up my phone as well. I'm far from the only one with this level of attention span issues.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Chicago, Bang! Bang!
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Dec 13, 2017, 02:04 PM
I’ve bought a new iPhone every year since the 4.

Last time I bought a new TV, George Bush was still president.
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Dec 13, 2017, 03:05 PM
I just don't see the appeal of watching media on anything smaller than an ipad, for more than a 2min cat video. Even an ipad isn't great, so I prefer a TV.
Join Date: Aug 2001
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Dec 13, 2017, 05:57 PM
The Verizon 4k streaming may be unlimited, but it's still subject to throttling, normally starting around the 22 gigs of data in a month mark.
Professional Poster
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Dec 14, 2017, 02:55 AM
I enjoy watching movies on a huge TV in the best quality possible (audio included!), but I suppose I am in the minority.
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