Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, June 10, 2011

Keeping Up with Technology

Decided to look into this Glenn Beck TV deal a little more closely.  The idea of ditching cable television is very tempting.  The technology is farther along than I suspected.  There are Internet-ready televisions, but there are also set boxes that bring in the Internet signal.

By definition – Wikipedia’s (so be warned) - internet television allows the users to choose the program or the television show they want to watch from an archive of programs or from a channel directory.  The two forms of viewing Internet television are streaming the content directly to a media player or simply downloading the program to the user's computer.  With the “TV on Demand” market growing, these on-demand websites or applications are a must-have for major television broadcasters.

The ability to access internet television is heavily dependent on internet-streaming speeds (how fast the program can be delivered to your player). This limits adoption in many countries, as broadband penetration is limited; in the Europe, only 25 percent of consumers had access to Broadband internet in 2010.  Using an Internet service provider, something which is common in many homes in the developed world, the user simply enters their chosen website address.  If the user has no select preference of streaming service, the name of a chosen television program can be inputted into a search engine followed by a phrase such as “online streaming” or “watch on the net.”  Accessing television on the internet has been simplified.  Due to this usability of streaming, services have been improved to maintain the simplicity of the process. Upon selection of a program and website, the user may have to wait a few seconds or minutes to allow their desired program to stream. A process called buffering allows the program to run in one smooth showing as opposed to stopping and starting to allow the program to stream.

But, the smoothness of the buffering depends on the broadband width (how many soldiers can cross the bridge abreast).  Heretofore, you had to have a computer for all this to happen, which would leave many older viewers marooned in cable television land.  According to his website, Glenn’s company is doing business with an internet television provider called “Roku”.

You buy one of three set boxes, similar to a cable box, which can receive the Internet signal even if you don’t have the Internet, that is, a computer.  Good news for Luddites.  The boxes range in fee from $59 to $79 to $99 with increasing features, according to price.  Roku’s website says it’s easy to install.  They list the various programs they have available.  Some, like the major networks and news stations, are free; others have modest to expensive subscription fees.

The one hitch is, you have to an Internet service provider.  Roku’s website is filled with testimonials, some claiming they unloaded their cable television within months.  Internet-ready TVs are priced between $800 and $1,100, at the present time.  That figures, since they’re the latest thing.  The box and an internet service provider such as AT&T ($19.99 per month and that’s just an example; no doubt, there are other, cheaper providers, although their DSL service may be slower) would work for those of us not ready to purchase new TVs at the moment (we’ve either recently bought a new or just can’t afford $900 for a decent set).

This new Internet TV service is all about freedom of choice.  Personally, I worry that we’ll eventually be let down.  Right now, Roku is advertising-free and offers many options at low cost.  How long Internet TV remains the channel of freedom remains to be seen.  When cable television first came out, it too was relatively low cost, advertising-free, and offered many options.

Even if you’re not interested in Glenn Beck’s program, you still might want to look into it.  One of Roku’s main attractions is its offering of NetFlix films, which are rising in popularity due to the inexpensive cost of NetFlix films.  Internet TV is a radical change in the way we will watch television, but one that might just prove to be a good change for cost-conscious conservatives.


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