It wasn’t that long ago when families would crowd around one TV set, fighting for the remote and patiently waiting between advertisement breaks for favourite programs to return. It’s a scene familiar to most of us, even if it’s becoming increasingly less common.
The problem is that media consumption in traditional formats restrict you to one area of the house, engaged in a very laboured style of viewing, where broadcast scheduling and intermittent commercials dominate what – and how – you watch movies and TV.
Fast forward to now and the way of old is being turned on its head, with wireless architecture forming new shapes for home entertainment systems. From online and on-demand access to content, to cloud-based storage and integrated peripheral devices, networks are more capable and intelligent than ever before.
Here is an age where your computer and TV no longer have to lead separate lives and that’s a good thing. Why? The two tecñologies allow you to get the best of both worlds. How? The Mac is a quick and efficient tool for discovering, downloading and managing digital media; the TV offers screen real-estate, clear imaging and a comfy environment to watch what you’ve sourced.
While there is a plethora of peripheral devices that enhance home-based entertainment, including media storage centres and high-end speaker systems, the development I’m most excited to see is the emergence of iOS integration with TVs, speakers, recording devices and online content providers like Netflix and iTunes.
The use of iPads and iPhones – in conjunction with various apps – acts as an adhesive that marries multiple devices and content in the home and beyond to create a multi-layer network that caters to everyone in the family.
I recently attended a Panasonic press event, where the company announced 39 new home entertainment products set for release this year.
Despite the huge range and variety of gadgets on show, they all shared iOS in common.
At the launch, Panasonic introduced The Smart VIErA Remote App Version 2.0 – a free download compatible with its VIErA TVs enabling remote control capabilities via a smartphone or tablet device to access mobile content on the TVs. Viewers can tap and flick through content like movies, images and music stored on their mobile device directly to their VIErA TV.
Also borrowing from the iOS language was the Pad Control – a remote for select VIErA TV models operated using a series of swipes and taps; gestures which have become second-nature thanks to the everyday use of touchscreen devices.
Many other companies are following suit, realising that iOS is a universal language that helps to compute otherwise complicated equipment.
Beyond remote devices and content- driven apps, iOS is also used as a vessel for media consumption. Whether it’s watching a movie on your iPad while on business in the US accessed from your media storage centre back in Australia, or sharing a website from your smart TV in the lounge to an iPhone in a bedroom, the capabilities continue to grow.
The simplicity of iOS means that home entertainment set-ups are now less baffling and openly accessible to everyone in the family. Start with a quality Plasma or LCD TV, grab yourself a good speaker system and network attached storage device, throw in some peripherals like a Blu-ray player or PlayStation 3 and you have all the tools in the kit to network a sophisticated entertainment system, overseen by your iPad and iPhone.
The next game changer in home entertainment will be Apple’s rumoured iTV – taking integration, mobile content and remote access up another notch. Be sure to tune in and watch this space!