After Hours

Poll: Do you want an Android computer inside your television?

CES 2012 once again features converging product lines. But do you really want a computer inside your television?

Here in the TechRepublic offices we have a couple of conference rooms. In those conference rooms we have foregone the traditional projector displays and have instead opted for large screen LCD televisions. These televisions have a computer connected to them for showing PowerPoint presentations and web-based collaboration tools, like Live Meeting.

By using televisions with computers attached we gain several degrees of flexibility in the tools we can use for teleconferencing with CBS Interactive headquarters in San Francisco. And because they are televisions, we can also use them for more fun tasks like testing gaming computers and consoles, or the occasional blue-ray player. (Check out the 2011 Geek Gift Guide for examples.)

CES 2012

However, the Consumer Electronics Show 2012 features several examples of LCD televisions with built-in computers. The one that comes to mind first is the Lenovo 55-inch 3D LED K91 which is powered by Qualcomm's 8060 Snapdragon dual-core CPU and features 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a 2GB SD card.

I think a computer inside a television can be a very good idea, but only if implemented correctly. The Lenovo is going to be running the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, which indicates that it will be application heavy - another potential plus if done correctly.

Beyond the consumer

Just imagine a teleconferencing LCD television with a built-in presentation app, an app for Skype, and an app like Go To My PC. There would be no wires, no need for setup - just plug it in and start working.

Of course, the folks at Lenovo are probably thinking their TV is a consumer-only product, which may create some implementation problems for teleconferencing, but if they go that way I think they are missing a real opportunity.

What do you think? Do you see the potential for a teleconferencing television with a built-in computer in your organization? Do you need more elegant and simplified choices for your collaboration systems? Do you think the convergence of television and computer is inevitable? Do you think convergence is now a reality? Is Android a good choice for an operating system in this situation?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

40 comments
TheChas
TheChas

There would be no value or benefit for an Andriod (or any other OS) computer to be inside my TV. Any computer inside my TV would spend it's life being very lonely. I have no intention of subscribing to any paid or pay per view video content. I don't watch enough TV to justify the cost of Cable Satellite or Netflix services. 90% of my TV viewing is local news and weather. About once a month, I might sit down and watch a DVD from our collection. (Yes, I see no reason to upgrade to Blue-Ray.) Even if I had a TV with network connectivity, I would most likely never enable the connection. So, why pay for a feature I would never use? Yes, the local cable sales-force does not like me at all. I even got a Comcast salesman to hang up on me. Chas

ksaldutti
ksaldutti

Windows 8 Yes. SSD drive only not noisy HDD like in my TIVO or Cable Co box. Time to wake up folks because MS is going to be a formidable force in the A/V Media and mobile markets. Now we just need new blood in the front office. Later Steve.

noonyokno
noonyokno

Android TV with full market. No special Apps to drain my pocketbook and isolate me from my Phone and Tablet. There may be more money in the masses than profiteering.

JohnnyG77083
JohnnyG77083

I am into leaving the TV as a TV because of upgrading concerns but I would love to have internet access in it. I think having internet access on my TV would just be using it as a monitor and running Chrome on it. I know I can hook up my laptop to it and use it then but I want the TV to be internet ready at all times. With internet access, while you watch movies you could add a window and check IMDB quickly about the movie, check the news, etc. A mouse would be all you would need and a keyboard of course. I guess what I would want would be a computer in a box that would hook up to the TV permanently with it's own HDMI cable. That would be one way without putting the PC in the TV. I've thought about doing this with a small PC running Windows 7 but haven't found one with the size and price point. This would solve the update problem for the TV of course.

mcgawda
mcgawda

@dogknees So the computer in the TV is obviously not for you! Which is my point, exactly. This is not the gadget/hardware for technical folks, but rather for the masses who just want to consume data through an app - not for techies who find bigger, better ways to go and have powerhouse PCs that do everything except clean the dishes (oh and there's probably a way to do that with Zigbee or 802.11x to a smart dishwasher ... so forget I said that, as well).

mondals
mondals

This is the way to go now. I am looking for a TV where I can do many things w/o hooking anything else to it. Sure, I will hook my 'Media Center' to it. But, I want to be able to stream HD video from different websites, check my email, log into FB, etc. right on the TV. If I have an android OS then I can do more.

mcgawda
mcgawda

All Obviously we are all techies on this forum, and you are all absolutely correct that a computer in a TV is not going to be a computer replacement, and is basically used by almost all of us as nothing more than a giant monitor for our PCs or game consoles. I'm not disagreeing with that stance. However, what I'm pointing out is for MOST PEOPLE (i.e. the lay person who is NOT a techie) that they are now looking into the App-World where if they want to stream a movie on their TV, they don't want to be hooking up a PC in the back-room with a Media streamer, and then hooking up another box in the front room to act as a media extender, or have a PC humming in the corner behaving like a DVR for them ... really they just want to tap a button, select a movie or tv show and watch it. I think there is definitely a market for NON-TECHIES for a PC inside a TV. As I said on my original post, having a TV with wireless or EoPL to connect to the internet, a DVD slot on the side, a couple of SD Card slots, and a little "app selection screen" will be great for the masses. Sure its not going to be "upgradable" in the traditional sense, but the shelf-life of most LCDs is about 5-7 years, so when those dead pixels start to appear and the brightness starts to dim, it might be time to entertain getting the latest TV, and lo-and-behold it happens to have a better PC in it than your current one. You need to think about who is the real market for something like this - and its not us techies!

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

The Samsung that I bought four Months ago has a linux OS.

mckinnej
mckinnej

not because I don't want a computer in my TV, but because I know that any built-in computer will be locked down so tightly that it will be worthless. I'll only be able to do and access what the manufacturer wants. Why pay the extra money for something that is fundamentally crippled? I'd rather buy my own add-on computer which will allow me to do anything I want.

danbi
danbi

Any LCD "television" (or a monitor for that matter) has a computer inside. Most don't provide any access to the user other than the remote and buttons but some do. But Android... many already submit to Google to spy on their Internet experience, on their mobile phone calls etc.. Perhaps those people deserve Google to know what, when and how they watch on TV.

mcgawda
mcgawda

My folks are not exactly tech-savvy, so embedding a simple computer in the TV itself is a great idea for looking at photos of their grandkids, playing a little music, streaming a movie, etc etc. Sure its not going to be a must-have for the techies and gamers, but having a simple all-in-one TV as a media extender WITHOUT needing a separate piece of hardware (like an Xbox360, Wii, PS3, etc) is a great idea. Make it Wireless and possibly Ethernet-over-powerline, add a little more hard space and maybe a DVD player slot on the side ... why not? It would be a perfect addition to a game room, wet-bar, or just as the main TV in the lounge.

Shaun PC
Shaun PC

I prefer a modular setup. You can mix and swap components as needed. I already have lots of computers, so why would I want another one built into a monitor that I would have to support?

partman1969
partman1969

...........and soon everyones television's operating system was fragmented just like their smart phones. The first malware tunes your tv to Oprah Winfrey Network every five minutes. Please shoot me !!!!!!

beaverusiv
beaverusiv

imo a TV is a COMPONENT, not the whole system (It never has been when you consider VCR, Antennae, etc). Like other component-based setups (ie computer hardware) it is really annoying if you have to upgrade a part because of another. I don't want to spend thousands on a TV that has a little computer that becomes slow and burdened with crapware forcing me to upgrade to a faster one so they can put on MORE CRAPWARE. This is all just because TV companies are desperate for people to buy new TVs every year or else how will they make bucketloads!?!

marks055
marks055

I don't need or want this crap, I'll get a Roku or Xbox if I need it.

Anthony Rice
Anthony Rice

Perhaps I have watched X-Files and read 1984 a few too many times but I really don't want Google in every aspect of my life. The way they are going, I'm not sure I want them in any aspect of my life..

pjblack47
pjblack47

I'm not sure we need the computer built in. Better to add a $50 set top box and upgrade it every 12 months or so. If all the Apple Fanboys want to put up $2500 for a television every eleven or so months --- I can see them standing in line now...that's their privilege.

dogknees
dogknees

My TV has been a PC for about 8-10 years now, so this stuff is ancient news. Convergence happened a decade back, the rest of you are just slow adopters.

Pete6677
Pete6677

As fast as this stuff is changing, putting a computer in a TV is a spectacularly bad idea. Who wants to replace their 46" LCD every 2 years when a better "computer" comes out? I want my TV to be a dumb (but sharp) display with no real intelligence built into it. I'd rather hook up a box through the HDMI input and let the box supply whatever digital TV fad-of-the-week we are using this week. When the new fad comes out, I'll put in a new box and keep my TV.

WATKINS12
WATKINS12

Not only, NO!!, but HELL NO!!! I just bought a windows phone and I like it 10 times better than the Samsung S I had. I had to go to 3G, but that isn't noticeable, probably because 4G is practically non-existent despite what they claim. A computer in the TV? Not necessarily a good or a bad thing. Computing power is going to be a gating factor. I get TV over my computer and saved $100+ a month, mainly because I get to watch what I want and don't have to pay for packages crammed with crap programming.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Do you see the potential for a teleconferencing television with a built-in computer in your organization?" Yes, but we already have a dedicated video conferencing system. "Do you need more elegant and simplified choices for your collaboration systems?" At work, no. At home, I don't have collaborative systems, so the capability or lack of it doesn't matter to me. "Do you think the convergence of television and computer is inevitable?" Yes "Do you think convergence is now a reality?" Define 'reality'. Do I think it's an option available to those who want it? Yes. Do I think even a large minority have chosen to pay to adopt this option? No. Is Android a good choice for an operating system in this situation? It doesn't matter to me what OS is used. I only buy a TV about once a decade. Since I just bought one two years ago, the OS for a TV will probably be standardized by the time I'm ready to buy another one. I likely won't take advantage of its capabilities any more than I do now.

kpdriscoll
kpdriscoll

Got a deal on a 46" Sony Google TV at Christmas. So much better than the crap firmware on other tv's. Not crazy about some of the tv's specs, so it would be nice to have a choice of multiple manufacturers using Android as the OS for their tv's.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you think the convergence of television and computer is inevitable? Do you think convergence is now a reality? Is Android a good choice for an operating system in this situation?

dogknees
dogknees

My primary PC at home is also my TV, my gaming machine, my media machine, DVD and Bluray player, radio receiver and more besides. It does everything the dedicated boxes do with a standard interface and much more power. This is called convergence and it's old news.

grayknight
grayknight

But really a TV is just a monitor for most people today. You have cable/satellite boxes that change channels, then there is DVRs, Xbox, Playstation, Wii, Roku, etc. with Netflix, Hulu, etc. on them, and then most computers now have HDMI output, so a single cable to the TV and your computer has a massive monitor. Add a surround sound system and you don't need to go to the theatres anymore. Having a built in computer in a TV is like large all-in-one computers or tablets, not very upgradeable, limited in capabilities, and will always be very behind in the technology currently available. And the worst part is upgrading will cost significantly more than tablets or all-in-one computers. I'll buy a tablet that I can carry around with me and upgrade it every couple years and just buy large monitors or projectors for large screen viewing.

Papapau
Papapau

Ok. But please dont tell me you have several iProducts.. or you do have?

partman1969
partman1969

I think your Google TV already hit the market and failed miserably, so much for the set top box idea huh? Apple and everyone else with their proprietary ideas can stay off my television as well. Media centers can be built on whatever platform you choose and can be modified or updated as you see fit, without obsoleting what could still be a very high quality home theater flat panel.

belli_bettens
belli_bettens

Most consumers don't upgrade their pc's once a better model is available, they just wait until it breaks. That would be the same with tv's I guess. You already have the option to buy a new tv once a new model comes out, tv's (as like pc's) do already innovate on a regular basis. In the end, the choice to upgrade is still with the consumer so building in a computer wouldn't make a difference on that part.

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

TVs don't need computers inside of them; it over-complicates things. I'm perfectly happy with my computerless 36" LCD TV...if I want it to run as a computer, I can hook my laptop up to it!

roger151
roger151

The TV manufacturers are running too hard on this, and run the risk on alienating customers. Sure you'll but a TV with Android on-board, but then disable that, so you can run your chosen system through the TV. Maybe the industry could get together (chance would be a fine thing) and develop interface standards that allow plugin components. We want the ability to add whatever devices we choose, not buy them built in. We also don't want a clutter of boxes and cables on our cabinet. So why not a bunch of interface slots that we can slide device cards into?

tkejlboom
tkejlboom

Okay, so now run an HDMI cable from your computer to your TV, and ta-da, you can watch your TV on the big screen again. I paid $400 for my 42" Panasonic LED TV. I think my STB should cost less than my TV, so I got a Revue for $90. Love it.

dogknees
dogknees

Do you think that if they knew they could get a better result for less money by going to a PC based TV, they would be interested?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"What's it let you do that other sets don't?", asked the guy whose TV 'convergence' consists solely of Dish Network and a DVR.

kimsymmons
kimsymmons

Agreed, upgrading a TV at the same rate as a computer or phone looks unreasonable. However a TV stays in one place (unlike a laptop or Phone) and so future proofing could be provided by a thin client model rather than a computer inside your TV. Push all the computing power onto the cloud with a 10Meg + line no?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'd take the same results for less money the next time I was interested in purchasing another set. I don't see how one can add hardware and reduce the cost, but I'm neither an economist nor a buyer of electronic components. Upon further reflection, I don't think the decision regarding a TV OS is as important as what data that box will be reporting back to its mothership.

Papapau
Papapau

It's "Google", so you can be pretty sure that it WILL evolve.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Is a TB per month, Been that way for about a year now and will get faster when we get the Fiber to the Home introduced in the next few years. Should be interesting to see just how much actually gets downloaded as I'm still running around the 50 GIG per month that the plan I'm on was upgraded from. :D Col

tkejlboom
tkejlboom

Have SOME ambition. GIG is CHEAP! 100GbE is OUT. The future will see the introduction of TERABIT.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

and certainly not enough reason for me to spend money replacing my existing set.

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