Television, the world’s most popular entertainment and information medium before the advent of the Internet, is not about to give up its hallowed place in the hearts and homes of its global audience, including Filipinos.
TV makers, like Sony and Samsung, are redefining television and producing a new generation of TV sets that can compete with the options offered by the computer and Internet. There are now television sets with wider monitors, high definition colors, ultra thin and lightweight housing, surround sound, 3D capability, and yes, they’re Internet ready, giving viewers the power to browse the Net and update their Facebook or Twitter accounts even while watching their favorite game shows. Why, they can even watch the latest short videos over YouTube while watching the news!
Says salesman Albert Nazareno of Sony TV at the Gateway Mall in Cubao: “(Our TV sets) are not meant to replace the mobility and versatility of your laptop, but our new 2011 series allows you to interact with your Internet friends using a wider and more vivid television screen.” The 2011 series has an Ethernet port for both wired or WiFi connectivity.
On top of its Internet features, Sony’s latest TV creation has home theater functions that include a Blu-Ray disc player, surround sound speakers, 3D eyeglasses, 3D PS3 software for games, 3D Blu-Ray Disc software and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) for single-cable high quality video and surround sound connection. It also has a “presence sensor” that enables this so-called “idiot box” to automatically turn itself off when no one is watching TV.
On the other hand, Samsung’s Smart TV does not only provide social networking connection, but the whole gamut of Internet experience, including browsing the net.
“You can do all your Internet activities on our Smart TV using its handy remote control,” crows sales staffer Ken Jolloso of SM Appliances in Cubao. “You can access any show on the Net and download it to access your favorite content.” He notes, however, that the viewer cannot download and save files because the package does not include a hard drive for storage.
Jolloso is particularly proud of Samsung’s 3D technology, specifically its 3D auto contrast feature and automatic 3D depth rendering technology. The 3D technology allows viewers to watch scenes in virtual reality mode, just like watching a 3D movie on a cinema screen.
Unfortunately, at this early stage, the prohibitive costs of big-screen Internet TV has discouraged viewers from switching from their old LCD TV sets to these newfangled ones. “Our Internet TV in the 32” to 40” monitor-size range is more in demand because they’re cheaper,” note Jolloso and Nazareno. “The TV sets in the 40”+ range have more luxurious features, but they are slow-moving because they are more pricey and are meant for the A and B market.”
Viewers will also need at least 3 megabits per second (mbps) Internet speed for real time streaming video, which means additional cost from your Internet provider. Most Filipino homes with Internet connection have less than 1 mbps Internet speed, which is more affordable. PLDT, for instance, charges P1,995 a month for speed of up to 3 mbps and P3,000 for Internet velocity of up to 5 mbps.
Moreover, a 3D television set needs a specially designed 3D production to give depth to the moving images that appear onscreen. Presently, there are a few movies that are produced with 3D technology. You will have to factor this in if you’re interested in investing at least P20,000 for this TV technology.
Both Nazario and Jolloso have great demo skills and product knowledge. Their remarkable salesmanship, backed by actual product demo, could entice anyone to dive in and take home an Internet TV set. Anyone would feel the same urgency after an impressive product presentation.
But as with any budding technology, Internet TV and 3D technology are likely to have more and better features as the years go by and their R & D sections deliver more innovations.
While Sony and Samsung are the top two brands in terms of advanced technology and sales, the other brands, like LG and Philips, are not about to take the challenge sitting down. They are likely to raise the bar with newer and better features at lower prices.
When large-screen LCD and LED TV were introduced not too long, they were priced at least P50,000 for the 32” screen model and at least P100,000 for the wider screens. This same series now costs half or even lower than the original prices. The same is likely to happen with Internet TV and 3D technology. So if you’re not yet ready for TV’s latest advancement, don’t fret. There are more coming, with newer, better features at what may yet be a fraction of today’s cost.
But if your pockets are really deep and you can’t shake off the yearning for technology-based entertainment, or if you put a premium on seeing and chatting with loved ones live in life-sized high definition screen, in an almost up close and personal encounter over Skype or Yahoo Messenger, then by all means go for it. If it can help you cope with homesickness and the loneliness of being away from family, then today’s prices and limited features can still be considered a great bargain.
The Internet TV was apparently designed to give viewers more choices in home connectivity and entertainment. As such, it can draw you closer to your loved ones or turn you into a virtual role player in a blockbuster holographic movie in the comfort of your home, or rather, home theater.
photographs by Mio de la Cruz