What will your Future Living Room look like?

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There is a lot on emphasis on smartphones and tablets, but the living room, where most of you spend your time while in the home is, sadly experiencing very less attention from technology these days.

There is new stuff coming up every year but it is essentially not groundbreaking. Also, the adoption rate of these new technologies for living room is quite low. With portable computing pretty much filled up to the brim, the next evolution and fierce competition will happen in the living room.

Obviously, there are a lot of competitors, both big and small, trying to grab consumer attention through various kinds of products such as gaming consoles, smart televisions, TV streaming boxes and more. Let us have a close look at some of the options and their features. But prior to it, we need to understand what makes a good TV companion product.

Internet connectivity is of utmost importance and so is its compatibility surrounding devices. Other features to look out for include applications, media ecosystem and support.

Gaming Consoles

Gaming consoles are much more than just gaming these days with heavyweights like Microsoft and Sony battling hard to hold the crown of home entertainment.

Gaming Consoles

They know for sure, not a lot of consumers would like to buy more than one companion. They can already play Blu-ray’s, DVDs or stream videos directly from websites. There are various applications for services like Netflix, HBO Go and Spotify.

Both, Microsoft and Sony are working hard to add more and more content to their digital library using XBox Music, Zune Marketplace, Qriocity, etc. But they are still not perfect as a complete entertainment solution.

User still can’t easily connect these consoles to hard drives to play your local content. XBox has a large ecosystem of really high quality games but you need to subscribe to XBox Live Gold membership ($5 / Month) to enjoy features as simple as web browsing and watching YouTube.

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Video consumption on XBox has increased over 140% while gaming and other activities are still stuck at around 30% YoY (Year-On-Year) growth. About 35 million XBox consoles are used to connect to Internet and it means people are ready to pay for such services.

According to reports, PS3 is already being used more for video streaming rather than gaming and Sony made it clear that PS3 accounts for almost 30% of Netflix streaming.

To be a complete entertainment solution, gaming consoles need to be more energy efficient, silent and add more applications/content to their arsenal. Apart from that, they can be more open to local content solution such as connecting with local media servers and external hard disk drives.

Competitors Pros Cons
    • Microsoft XBox 360 (Starts $199 + Additional Charge For Premium Features)
    • Sony PS3 (Starts $249 + Additional Charge For Premium Features)

    • High Quality Gaming
    • Ecosystem
    • Apps

    • High Ownership Price
    • Local Multimedia Streaming

Cheap Streaming Boxes

Streaming boxes like Boxee and Roku are selling in great numbers these days because they are the best choice. Apple uses its rich iTunes content ecosystem to really shine its Apple TV. Google TV integrates with Android and Play Store. Apple TV console

Unlike Apple TV that binds you into applications, Google TV is much more about the web and browsing giving you free access to web.

You can stream content from your tablet or smartphone wirelessly to your TV using these boxes. Google TV is much more open letting you connect any peripherals and storage drives to play content directly from there.

Competitors Pros Cons
  • Apple TV ($99)
  • Google TV Devices ($140)
  • Low Starting Price
  • Good Ecosystem
  • Apps
  • No Gaming

Media Players

The good old media players are your go to option if you don’t want to bring in Internet streaming and you already have large collection of movies and music in your PC. Media Players

All the media players come with USB slots that allow you to connect flash drives and external hard disk drives. Many media players come with internal hard disk drive and Wi-Fi/LAN connectivity to stream content from there. Media players can be bough at cheap rates but the problem with media players is that there is almost no multimedia ecosystem, gaming or good Internet experience.

Competitors Pros Cons
  • Western Digital (Starts $50)
  • Asus (Starts $59)
  • IOmega (Starts $100)
  • Amkette (Starts $100)
  • Play Local Content Easily
  • Cheap
  • Bad Internet Experience
  • No Ecosystem
  • No Gaming

Smart TVs

Even televisions these days are coming up with in-built Internet connectivity. Samsung TVs come with their own interface, which connects to Internet and integrates your social media accounts. Smart TVs

On the other hand, Sony smart TVs have good enough media content through SEN, Skype video calling ability and better connectivity with other Sony systems like Xperia smartphones and PS3. All other respected TV brands have come up with Smart TVs or Internet TVs.

They have even come with apps to control them through second screens such as smartphones and tablets. But the main problem with them is very high ownership cost and almost no gaming option.

If you want gaming, you have to buy gaming consoles separately or use high-end smartphones / tablets to stream games from them to your TV wirelessly using DLNA / Miracast.

Competitors Pros Cons
  • Sony (Starts $600)
  • Samsung (Starts $600)
  • LG (Starts $600)
  • Panasonic (Starts $500)
  • Second Screen Controlling Apps
  • Social Media & Streaming Apps
  • Very High Ownership Cost
  • Not Enough Content
  • No Gaming

Second Screen Experience

Smartphones and tablets are becoming an inseparable part of our web usage. The idea of second screen is that you can use smartphones or tablets to browse, control and interact with TV shows.

Second Screen ExperienceChannels and shows are integrating second screens. You can express your views during a talk show. You can even have a look at the TV Schedule from second screen without marring your TV watching experience.

According to me, the main rivals would be gaming consoles and streaming boxes. There is no point in buying both at the same time and fill the already crowded living room. Consumers who like gaming would certainly purchase gaming consoles with good online content and ecosystem. Streaming boxes like Apple TV and Google TV would please buyers with shallow pockets who only want good connectivity and video streaming solution.

There is still no perfect living room companion but we are getting closer to perfectness with gaming consoles.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

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