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Are Streaming Media Players a Passing Fad

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the here-today-gone-tomorrow dept.

The Internet 367

DeviceGuru writes "In-Stat is questioning whether dedicated streaming media players like the Roku player, Boxee Box, and Google TV boxes will be around for long. The reason, says In-Stat, is that IP-streamed video is becoming a standard feature of TVs and Blu-ray players. Passing fad? Not according to this blog post at DeviceGuru, which argues that we're talking about a disruptive market, not a mature one, and that TVs and Blu-ray players can't possibly provide the flexibility to serve as the platform for delivering rapidly evolving technologies to the early adopters who represent the testbed for all this innovation."

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367 comments

RE: Passing Fads (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242630)

Apparently ending questions with a question mark is also a passing fad.

Yes. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242652)

next question

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242776)

Are wheels a passing fad?

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242822)

Yes.

Re:Yes. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242906)

How so?

Re: How so? (3, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242992)

Every try to pass someone without wheels?

Re:Yes. (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243044)

You are correct, but only because these streaming features are now expected from Blu-Ray players and modern game consoles. Streaming was new when this generation of game consoles came out in 2006, before Hulu existed [wikipedia.org] and Netflix began offering streaming [wikipedia.org] , I have a feeling next generation consoles will do a much better job of streaming.

Consumers will not spend $100-$300 on a streaming media player when their next gen game console already streams everything they could want and offers mature hardware and software that is updated often by major manufactures like Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.

I expect sales of streaming media players to remain strong for the next few years until new game systems are released and sales will eventually taper off and cease when the game systems become cheaper than the media players.

Re:Yes. (2)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243096)

I expect sales of streaming media players to remain strong for the next few years until new game systems are released and sales will eventually taper off and cease when the game systems become cheaper than the media players.

Assuming someone actually wants a new gaming console.
I don't have a personal need for a game console. When I want to get my game on, I prefer to use my PC.

I'm happy with a standalone streaming player. Or at least I will be when the WD-TV live and Netflix.ca get it together and start co-operating.

Re:Yes. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243148)

Sure—but if it's cheaper, why not pick up the extra functionality?

Re:Yes. (3, Insightful)

Jarryd98 (1677746) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243238)

Well, certain manufacturers believe it's their right to remove/prohibit 'extra functionality' following release (even when devices are purchased on the premise of said 'extra functionality'). There is that.
In an ideal world...

Re:Yes. (1)

razorh (853659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243388)

nah, no self respecting company with an interest in staying alive would EVER do anything like that. I mean, customers wouldn't stand for something like that and they'd go out of business... right?

Getting your game on with IRL friends (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243216)

I don't have a personal need for a game console. When I want to get my game on, I prefer to use my PC.

What do you do when you happen to have friends over at your place and you all want to get your game on?

Re:Getting your game on with IRL friends (1)

rnswebx (473058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243300)

tell them to go home and get on their PC?

Re:Getting your game on with IRL friends (2)

Binestar (28861) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243308)

What do you do when you happen to have friends over at your place and you all want to get your game on?

We head to the nightclub.

Re:Getting your game on with IRL friends (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243366)

I don't have a personal need for a game console. When I want to get my game on, I prefer to use my PC.

What do you do when you happen to have friends over at your place and you all want to get your game on?

That's what the board games are for...ahhh, Iron Dragon...yes, my friends enjoy colouring with crayons as much as I do....

On the plus side, we don't end up with Wiimotes through the LCD, just crayons in the carpet.

Re:Getting your game on with IRL friends (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243418)

LAN party like a real man. I have three computers at my place for SC2, 1 360 for dev and streaming and 1 boxee box for streaming. The remeaining 360 has no purpose and I stopped using as soon as I got my Boxee. When the next generation comes out I will likely only buy one for my room and leave the Boxee downstairs. When a new Boxee-like comes out I will probably buy that because it will be cheaper than an Xbox 720 I would only use for streaming.

Re:Yes. (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243286)

I expect sales of streaming media players to remain strong for the next few years until new game systems are released and sales will eventually taper off and cease when the game systems become cheaper than the media players.

Assuming someone actually wants a new gaming console.

This. I don't play games, and both my DVD player and TV work perfectly well. I will replace them when they break. So a Roku box was actually valuable to me.

Re:Yes. (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243306)

I'm happy with a standalone streaming player. Or at least I will be when the WD-TV live and Netflix.ca get it together and start co-operating.

Looks like they are [wdc.com] ...for the WD HDTV Live Plus anyways... I don't think they are planning on supporting the regular WD HDTV Live for Netflix Canada, but I could be wrong.

Haven't rigged mine in to Netflix yet, will be doing so soon. Want to know if it works when I do? (it's a Plus)

Re:Yes. (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243230)

Consumers will not spend $100-$300 on a streaming media player when their next gen game console already streams everything they could want and offers mature hardware and software that is updated often by major manufactures like Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.

They will if they don't game. Or if the game consoles can't stream the specific site that people want to watch. Does Hulu Plus work on Wii yet? Does MSNBC? Does C-SPAN? Does ESPN3?

Re:Yes. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243310)

It's worth pointing out that the best streaming media player around got its start on the original Xbox console. Convergence of streaming media and game consoles is natural.

Does that mean that streaming media players are a passing fad? Not any more than game consoles are a passing fad.

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243344)

I got my Roku for $80. Was checking out a game console to stream Netflix, and the Wii became an option when it got the app, but it was still too expensive to justify it. I don't watch Blu-Ray discs (why bother when you can stream it in HD, Amazon Video OnDemand offers all the new stuff, so I don't want to hear about having to wait...that's BS), I absolutely friggin hate playing good games on a console, because they're better on a PC in my opinion (I've never understood how a whole keyboard worth of buttons PLUS the free flow movement of a mouse could be looked at as inferior to an 8 button controller with a damn joystick....), and well, to be honest, I don't trust Microsoft or Sony.

So, I was able to save a couple hundred dollars, got everything I want and then some (because Roku's business is offering TV entertainment on their box, they have a lot more channels than are available on any blu-ray player or gaming console) and I can take the box anywhere with me and hook it up to just about any TV. I fail to see a downside to it at all.

Also, you say that the game consoles will get cheaper, but that's never really happened before, why would it start now?? Next gen consoles come out at outrageously high prices, so that makes it look like the older ones are a steal, but the older ones aren't getting anything new on them, so what's the point of buying it then??

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243404)

I remember something else that many experts claimed would be a passing fad. And they certainly seem to have been completely correct when they said it about the internet...

Indeed, hardware will never get software updates. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242672)

Not.

XBMC should be in every house. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242682)

XBMC rules

Yes, at this rate... (5, Insightful)

NortySpock (1966236) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242694)

If ISPs keep capping the amount you can pull per [time unit], yeah, they will become a passing fad.

Re:Yes, at this rate... (5, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242882)

This point exactly. Before I headed overseas I switched my ISP from Rogers to Teksavvy, which means I went from a $49/mo plan, with 60gb @10/1 to a $42/mo plan with 300gb @ 15/1. Canada sucks for the internet, the US seems to be trying to catch up to Canada. It's quickly coming to a point where as much as I hate it, the last mile should be regulated and publicly owned, like in other countries which can provide dirt cheap internet services.

Re:Yes, at this rate... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242994)

Why would you hate the correct solution? Perhaps because it illustrates that your chosen dogma does not coincide with reality?

Re:Yes, at this rate... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242912)

No.

More likely customers will start telling ISPs "fuck you" and refuse to pay the overage fees (i.e. $1 per gig over 150GB). Then the ISPs will move to metered billing, just like how water and electricity providers operate, in order to avoid pissing-off their base.

Then customers will eschew HD videos in favor of smaller-sized DVD and VHS-quality vids to cut their costs (like I do). It's a price battle in the making.

Re:Yes, at this rate... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243182)

If ISPs keep capping the amount you can pull per [time unit], yeah, they will become a passing fad.

And if people stop streaming, bandwidth caps will become a passing fad. So I think we'll find an equilibrium somewhere.

Re:Yes, at this rate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243374)

Doubt it. Bandwidth caps existed long before streaming was more than a bad stuttering real player only joke. Many ISPs around me imposed hard limits at around 5 GB about 11 years ago. The caps went away only because the competition kept offering unlimited access, making it a bit of a prisoner's dilemma. Now, however, the majority of users here are capped, and as such, much of the competition feels little need to keep offering unlimited.

It has nothing at all to do with streaming and everything to do with profits.

My Roku was displaced by Blu-Ray (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242704)

My Blu-Ray player displaced my Roku (which I sent to a family member for use with Netflix). The only thing I used the Roku for was Netflix, and since my Blu-Ray player does Netflix (and Pandora) there was no need for the Roku.

If I had a second TV and wanted a cheap streaming device, I might look at Roku again, but at $70 for a Roku-HD versus $99 for a Blu-Ray player with Netflix, I'd probably go for the Blu-Ray player so I can play disks too.

Re:My Roku was displaced by Blu-Ray (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243192)

If I had a second TV and wanted a cheap streaming device, I might look at Roku again, but at $70 for a Roku-HD versus $99 for a Blu-Ray player with Netflix, I'd probably go for the Blu-Ray player so I can play disks too.

"Disk"? Is that the round thing with the hole in the middle? I haven't seen one of those in a long while. I didn't know people still used them.

Re:My Roku was displaced by Blu-Ray (0)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243460)

You're thinking of a disc, disks are square.

pfft... I disagree (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242712)

if a linux computer can be packed into a unit the size of an overlarge usb key

the same functionality can be flashed into a bluray player or tv to change the standard/interface/codec/whatever is required.

New IP stack? New Codec? New flash based website with it's own API? these can all be written into an amazingly small bit of flash that can reside inside any disc player or television.

will the makers WANT to write such firmware on a per model basis? that's the real question... they'd much rather sell you a new tv then write software for a sale that already closed at best buy 6 months ago.

Let me explain. (3, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242724)

Your new TV set contains a computer that performs the functions provided by the external box. The firmware for that computer can be reprogrammed. The external box is there only for TVs that can't do that. Soon, all TVs being sold will be able to do that. The boxes will exist only for people who want the function without buying a new TV. Has that business ever been a growth market for any industry where it happens? No.

Ergo, the external box that provides functions that any new TV can provide is not a growth market and is likely a doomed market.

Next question, please.

Re:Let me explain. (5, Insightful)

vondo (303621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242938)

I'm not at all sure of this. A TV has a lifespan of many years and is quite expensive. These boxes are cheap. I picked up a WD box for $100. Sure, my next TV will probably do everything this box does. But where will I be 2-3 years after my next TV. Will the TV have the processing power to keep up? Will the manufacturer keep putting out new versions of the software for 10 years after I bought the TV? Doubtful.

So a few years down the road I will be buying a new external box to keep up with the latest formats, online services, etc. And I won't care, because the box will cost me $100 instead of $1000+ for a TV.

Re:Let me explain. (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242966)

I'm not at all sure of this. A TV has a lifespan of many years and is quite expensive. These boxes are cheap. I picked up a WD box for $100. Sure, my next TV will probably do everything this box does. But where will I be 2-3 years after my next TV. Will the TV have the processing power to keep up? Will the manufacturer keep putting out new versions of the software for 10 years after I bought the TV? Doubtful.

No but you'll be able to buy a "Blu-Ray" player which is updated. How often you use the blu-ray functionality vs the Netflix functionality has yet to be seen but the Blu-Ray player makers will offer something Roku can't: Blu Rays.

Re:Let me explain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243178)

Blu Ray is already a dead format. You can buy that if you want and keep track of a bunch of easily damaged plastic discs. I'll buy the cheaper Streaming box solution, thanks.

Re:Let me explain. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242956)

Now, I have configured my TV with all of my streaming settings and preferences. I go out and buy a new TV, how do I transfer those settings to the new TV?

This is not an insurmountable problem, but it is not one that people are used to thinking about and could cause some serious dissatisfaction with TVs that have this functionality built in.

Your interpretation of the situation has a lot of merit, but there are some issues that make that not a sure thing.

Re:Let me explain. (2)

wytcld (179112) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243068)

Remember when your Osborne computer had the screen and the computer all in one box. Wow, that was the way of the future, man!

Or was it? Remember when your record player had the amplifier and speaker under the turntable? Wow, that was the way of the future, mam!

Or was it? Could it be possible that the future is, you know, modular?

iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243092)

iPhone

Re:Let me explain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243152)

Remember when your Osborne computer had the screen and the computer all in one box. Wow, that was the way of the future, man!

Was "Osborne" the early codename for the iMac sitting in front of me right now? It sure sounds similar in its design.

Remember when your record player had the amplifier and speaker under the turntable?

WTF is a "record player"?

Re:Let me explain. (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243120)

"Your new TV set contains a computer that performs the functions provided by the external box... Soon, all TVs being sold will be able to do that. The boxes will exist only for people who want the function without buying a new TV."

True, but that's like saying DVD and Blu-Ray players are no longer necessary because you can buy a TV with a DVD or BD player [amazon.com] built-in.

I have a HDTV with built-in DVD player but I still have a DVD player connected to it because built-in DVD players have always been junk in my experience.

Re:Let me explain. (1)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243200)

I think that you're mistaken. As long as people have libraries of local content they want to stream, so long as those formats evolve over time, and so long as TV/media delivery manufacturers don't much care to allow you to do that, standalone media players will be around. Come up with an open-source TV/ >32" programmable monitor, and then I might change my tune.

Re:Let me explain. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243204)

It's a doomed market because commercial offerings can't compete with what we can do for free. XBMC isn't going anywhere.

Re:Let me explain. (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243438)

Ok, playing a prophet here. My take: both TVs and the little boxes are fads. 10 years from now, everybody will be using a slim pad with 2K-4K resolution, in your hands, just like iPad but much faster, with better sensing, cameras etc., all your data/books/files in the cloud and Netflix-like video and audio on demand in it.. (effectively replacing static TV programming). You will also be able to beam the image to the wall if you might have the need for a big movie-like picture. The large screen rigs with better audio systems will still be around, but only as a large barebone display monitors and hi-fi audio equipment to EXTEND your pad's screen, video and audio output - all data streamed from the pad to the hi-fi rig wirelessly. The age of TVs and the additional boxes is therefore soon to be over.

Eventually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242734)

I don't see how they'll disappear with the stranglehold the industry has currently; at least not in the short term. Netflix is great, but many of it's items are dated... I love iTunes and the integration with my mostly-Apple network, but is too expensive as an all-in-one solution. For now, I'm using a hybrid setup:

Basic cable + 12 TB of ripped material in a Drobo. Perfectly organized in iTunes, it's leaps and bounds above Netflix.

With a decent chip and standards on streams... (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242752)

Yes, certainly. Why can't the hardware in these boxes be located in the television itself. The tuner hardware is. Only reason it wouldn't be is BS like cable companies that see integration as an attack on a revenue stream (i.e. cable cards and digital cable standards). Once it can support some standard interface everyone uses (HTML5?) then there won't be a need for a set top box. Right now you see a lot of crap interfaces as they don't have standards. For instance, my netflix client on my Blu ray player is horrible but on my 360 its great. Comes down to power and how the app is designed. If its done via HTML5 or something similar then everyone will get the same "good" interface.

Re:With a decent chip and standards on streams... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243372)

The question is, will streaming technology continue to evolve faster than the replacement cycle of TVs. I bought a TV eleven years ago, that I am only considering replacing because my wife and I are moving and the new place does not have a good space to place a CRT TV. When I bought that TV the idea of streaming content was just starting to be talked about.

Re:With a decent chip and standards on streams... (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243456)

I think it really has to be about the encoding standards. Are we good enough for 1080P in hardware? Is there something coming that's going to revolutionize encoding video on 1080P streams? No? You're probably ok. What will hinder this is the way the UI is built and how the TV applications are done. If its something the TV manufacturer maintains then expect updates almost never. If it just points to an aggregation provider (Boxee, Google, etc) then odds are you'll have a very stable platform for years to come. At least until > 1080P content comes out, in which case you'll have to buy a new TV anyways to show it.

Stating the obvious, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242758)

argues that we're talking about a disruptive market, not a mature one

New, disruptive markets eventually become mature, established markets.

TVs and Blu-ray players can't possibly provide the flexibility to serve as the platform for delivering rapidly evolving technologies to the early adopters who represent the testbed for all this innovation

Sure they can, once it has become a mature, established market. Stuff like Hulu in North America and BBC iPlayer in the UK have rapidly established themselves as de-facto standards, and the technology is now becoming well understood and implemented in a similar way by multiple providers.

Devices like DTV boxes can receive and apply software updates and devices like TiVo and satellite receivers have been using that trick to keep current for over a decade now, so why wouldn't televisions with integrated streaming capabilities be able to do the same?

They are better than what the cable cos. provide (2)

cjonslashdot (904508) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242760)

I have a Roku and an Apple TV. I will not be surprised if these things become a commodity at some point; but we are not there yet by any means. These boxes have quite different portfolios of available content, and very different styles of operation. I like them both. I like having both. I find them far superior to the on-demand services offered by my cable provider (Comcast). I never, ever watch broadcast cable anymore: I obtain all of my content via these external boxes, and always commercial free.

Err ok (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242780)

"In-Stat is questioning whether dedicated streaming media players like the Roku player, Boxee Box, and Google TV boxes will be around for long. The reason, says In-Stat, is that IP-streamed video is becoming a standard feature of TVs and Blu-ray players. Passing fad?

Ummm derr? Streaming video is just software. There is nothing magical about the box that plays these. Of course it'll all end up in one box.

Re:Err ok (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242870)

The only way that I can imagine them going away is if the media companies or ISPs kill them. Other than that, as long as it's not feasible to have every copy of every bit of media possible on site, streaming will continue. And in practical terms, I don't see why one would want to do that, unless one was running an archive and we don't need billions of those. A few hundred would likely suffice.

Re:Err ok (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242944)

The article isn't about killing streaming, it's about putting the set-top box functionality into the TV. The Slashdot headline, as usual, was misleading.

Re:Err ok (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243072)

it's about putting the set-top box functionality into the TV.

I know it's off topic, but I find it humorous that we still call anything a "set-top box" I would guess it's been many years since anyone on /. has purchased a TV that you could place much of a box on top of. I think the last floor model console type CRT I had was over 20 years ago.

so which is it? (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242814)

geez, so which is it?
Blu-ray players are supposed to be dead in the consumer market.
and TV's? does that mean cable? - no thanks.

personally I love the interface and usability of my Roku, It's my first choice for streaming netflix over the Playstation or the Wii

What if you could write software for your TV? (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242826)

What if you could write software for your TV [yahoo.com] ? I started learning Javascript because I have a TV that can be programmed with it, and I want to be able to stream music from my fileserver to it, instead of having to hook up a separate box. The TV already plays Netflix just fine, and has apps avaiable (although I haven't used them) for Hulu, Amazon, Blockbuster, Vudu, Vimeo, etc, etc. As far as I can tell, the TV is basically a display with a builtin Linux computer that runs apps written in Javascript.

Yahoo isn't the only one, BTW. [google.com]

Re:What if you could write software for your TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242930)

I plan to turn my old laptop into the "show computer stuff on the TV" at some point. I could get a cheap machine and do it now. I just don't care that much. Every once in a while I move the laptop into the living room, use the TV as a monitor (it's LCD) and watch Amazon Video on Demand or YouTube videos. The wireless makes it easy.

I don't see myself buying a new box or a new TV with the tech built in anytime soon.

Re:What if you could write software for your TV? (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243008)

I don't see myself buying a new box or a new TV with the tech built in anytime soon.

Neither did the wife and I; we kept our 8yo old 27in CRT (!) TV until it started having color issues. I had a MythTV box hooked up to it, but some caps on the motherboard popped, then I hooked up an old gaming rig. When the old TV started dying, my wife and I picked out a new 42in LCD based on Consumer Reports. Google Earth looks nice on it :) But as I was browsing the TV menus, I came across the one with the developer code and was giddy as a schoolboy! I keep the gaming rig in case I ever pick up WoW again, but quite frankly I'm having more fun learning to write software for the TV :)

What is the passing fad? (2)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242828)

I'd say dedicated devices for video (i.e. T.V. and blueray players). Set top boxes are also somewhat silly and limited. What we really need are small computer systems for entertainment that use gestures and a Minority Report-like UI. All of this needs to be open source, so we don't have to suck on idiotic interfaces and features sets that cow tow to the entertainment industry's idea of a great set of features (i.e. no time shifting, no space shifting, and pay through the nose).

Probably not... (1)

kefler (938387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242872)

I remember when TV's had VCR's built in.

Re:Probably not... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243022)

You couldn't update a VCR to play DVDs. You can update an Android or Windows 7 Embedded TV to run Netflix 2.0

Re:Probably not... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243290)

Probably not... I remember when TV's had VCR's built in.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

I'll assume that you're saying that TV/VCR combos were never *that* common, or at least not as common as one might have guessed they'd have become beforehand.

But that's because there were a number of issues- they typically cost around the same as a separate TV and video, back when video recorders were still moderately expensive, but had the disadvantage of tying the two together (e.g. if the video broke and had to be fixed you lost your TV too) and were frequently inferior (e.g. just one tuner so you couldn't record one channel and watch another).

Streaming players are already much cheaper and likely to get cheaper still, since solid-state microchip-based technology is much better at doing that than mechanical video recorders... but that also makes it a no-brainer to slap it into a TV as an extra feature once the chipset gets dirt-cheap (or the functionality is easily able to be included as part of the standard chipset anyway).

linux (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242876)

TVs and Blu-ray players can't possibly provide the flexibility to serve as the platform for delivering rapidly evolving technologies

They could if they ran something like Linux under the hood.

Re:linux (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243254)

Yes, or more specifically something like the tablet version of Android, but adapted to run at 1920x1080. Half of everyone will know how to use it because they will have owned other Android devices, and there will already be a huge back catalog of apps available from day one.

The only thing left to figure out is how one would control the UI... Wii-mote style? Kinect style? Something else?

With TVs there's the "software update" problem (2)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242940)

One problem I've long had with the idea that this functionality will migrate into TVs is that traditionally TV firmware has been next to impossible to update.

IPTV protocols are numerous and evolving fast -- there is not now, nor do we really expect there to be any time soon, a hard-and-fast standard for it. If you don't have the ability to easily update the software then it will stop working within a few years.

Now, my TVs have mostly been paragons of reliability, but one thing I cannot say about the TV manufacturers is that they are any good at all at complex software. Or even the very simplest software for that matter; even with the very limited software functionality in a modern TV the configuration and display of information is almost universally lousy.

And it's not just TVs. Most of these consumer electronics guys also make phones, and look what their software looks like when they do it themselves. It just sucks.

Worse, their dedication to ongoing support of hardware that has already sold is damn near zero (there is, after all, no incentive whatsoever once the warrantee periods expire). Ever see an Android phone that cannot be upgraded to the most recent Android, even if the hardware is capable? That is not only common, it is *typical*. And that is pretty much the rule across most consumer electronics. For instance: My first Blu-Ray player had one firmware update a year or so after the model was introduced, and nothing since. The player no longer works on BR discs that use certain new copy protection schemes and there will never be a fix for that, so it became a boat anchor in just two years.

These things are only a mild annoyance for a product that costs perhaps $200. For a nice TV at $2000ish it's a huge problem. Maybe some years hence when there is a real IPTV standard it will stop mattering so much, but that is not going to happen any time soon. Until it does it will be much more cost effective to buy cheap little boxes to attach to the TV.

Re:With TVs there's the "software update" problem (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243244)

Game consoles already solve this problem pretty nicely. Sony (yea, yea, boo and all that jazz) tends to release updates for the PS3 pretty consistently and keeps the Blu-Ray spec up to date. All 3 consoles have updated their software to incorporate Netflix, and PS3/360 have both also added various other streaming services long after their initial release. They don't run into the lack of ROI problem since they seem to be selling consoles on a pretty consistent basis, compounded with the residual income from game licensing and pay services on their respective networks.

I remember years ago Microsoft's ultimate goal was to have Xbox be the entertainment hub for your home. Back then, I scoffed at the idea, but its becoming a reality with all of the consoles.

WTF? Engrish Please!! (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242952)

"TVs and Blu-ray players can't possibly provide the flexibility to serve as the platform for delivering rapidly evolving technologies to the early adopters who represent the testbed for all this innovation."

WTF does that even mean? A TV that can make an IP connection to the Internet can play streaming video just as well as any other device.

yes but who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242984)

These things cost about $100 and they last a few years. After this fad it will be something else. They are disposable and serve a simple purpose. I buy one of these units today. If I get a few good years out of it I am happy

No, but CATV operators probably hope so. (2)

gblues (90260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242990)

I know for myself, that between an OTA antenna, Netflix Instant, and Hulu, I have everything I need. My Netflix sub is the closest I have ever come to paying for TV.

As more and more ISPs implement caps, I think the next step is going to be a home caching server. I.e. for Netflix, you could set your monthly cap and tell it what % to use, then it would download shows from your Instant Queue to the cache server during off-peak hours. Then, streaming devices would get the data over your LAN rather than across the Internet. The only traffic generated during viewing would be the DRM exchanges to ensure you are authorized.

However, if ISPs were honest (ha!) they would exempt content that is delivered via CDN (i.e. Akamai) because the only bandwidth used is "last mile" bandwidth--the bandwidth between the CDN server and the Internet is already paid for by the CDN provider!

Re:No, but CATV operators probably hope so. (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243050)

Or Netflix will work with the ISPs like NBC did for the Olympics and setup caches in the ISP server room.

Are PC's a passing fad too? (4, Informative)

snsh (968808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36242998)

Using that logic, we should all be buying souped-up computer monitors that have computers built into them, as opposed to buying the monitor as an accessory to your computer.

My story: bought a Samsung TV at exactly the wrong time (early 2010). It had DLNA capability built in (which is buggy) and a framework for Yahoo gadgets. As soon as Samsung's new 2010 models came out, they stopped supporting the 2009 models (no fixes for buggy DLNA). They changed their app framework, so the Yahoo gadget ecosystem is now dead. I learned from the experience that it's really dumb to buy a TV for it's media-player functionality. You're better off buying a dumb TV and using a STB like a Playstation that has broader support.

Re:Are PC's a passing fad too? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243236)

Computer hardware requirements continually change. Better graphics, more RAM etc etc...

A Blu-Ray player decodes 1080p streams of h264 or AVC. That's incidentally exactly all that a streaming movie player needs to do as well.

Unless the TV magically upgrades to 4k or a streaming service uses a codec that is far more intensive than H264 or AVC it should have all the hardware it'll ever need.

Better a new box than a new tv. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243032)

I can stream media to my TV from my PC, Wii, PS3, Xbox360, any device with an HDMI out. If the built in feature of the tv's company goes wrong I would have to buy a new TV instead of a new box. Its like having to get a new car every time the tires wear out.

Over a sufficiently long period of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243036)

everything is just a passing fad.

Amazon's next Kindle.. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243062)

The next kindle is supposed to sport a quad core processor. What's preventing them from tossing in an nvidia chipset out of a netbook and an HDMI port, and allowing you to play back streaming video from the amazon.com video store on your TV? Most every 36"+ flatscreen TV has an HDMI port or two on the side for just this sort of thing.
 
Why buy a roku box when you can get an identical device that you can take with you and read books on, too? Not practical for the living room where a dedicated device is needed, but ideal for those couples who think having a TV in the bedroom is a good idea.

Re:Amazon's next Kindle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243382)

WHy stop there tho? why not put in an Fm radio and even a GPRS streaming radio? and also a little spigot on the side to dispense cold water .. not much, but enuff for a commuter journey . WOuld save carrying that separate bottle of evian.
I think actually TVS should go modular and simply beome a flat display panel that is sold with a tuner box and other attachables, that way if any piece breaks down or needs updating, it is easy enuff to do.

My spouse and kid aren't Early Adopters... (1)

RealGene (1025017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243086)

We can stream Netflix using either our Wii or our Sony Blu-Ray player. I use the Sony, because I think the picture quality is better. They use the Wii because the UI is simpler and a lot easier to read.

Roku wants your credit card info (1)

katz (36161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243100)

Roku's nice and all, but they did a couple of things that really turned me off: First, they make it a mandatory to sign up an online account with them on-line in order to just use the device. Yet another account, sigh. I do not understand why I need to do this if the only thing I am using my Roku player for is streaming from my Netflix account. Next, they required collecting my credit card info as part of signing up with their online account. The credit card info gets used for purchasing content through the Roku device. But I had no intention of using it for anything besides Netflix. And there's no way to get around it, which is why I called them and forced them to give me access without any credit card info. This is ridiculous. Everyone these days seems to want the maximum information they can collect on you. I'm considering returning this device in favor of another one that's not so intrusive as to demand my credit card info right off the bat and track what I watch through yet another online account.

Didn't know that about Roku (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243190)

Say what you will about Sony, my Bluray player presented no hassles getting Netflix set up. Wish it had Hulu support, and better Youtube navigation, but for the most part I'm pretty happy with it.

Comcast et. al. will end streaming media (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243124)

At $.99/GB (which it'll eventually become), who will want to stream media? Give me a local streaming server any day...

The external box will remain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243128)

What will not pass is the existence of a class of devices that provide translation services between devices that fetch and store information and devices that project information. The more open the information ecology the less often we will have to replace the external box. The creation of persistent information standards (ha!) or durable devices (ha!ha!) would decrease number of needed translation boxes. What else really could?

like asking a kid if they want beets or okra (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243130)

I looked at stand alone players late last year, but went with a Blu-Ray player because it did pretty much the same things, and also up-scaled my lower res videos to 1080p, and played Blu-Ray discs and up-scaled DVDs. And at pretty much the same cost as all but the worst stand alone units.

What I got was a compromise. It will play many format files, but will not play ISO files. It will stream from a few paces on the web, but far from all that I would wish, and it will not access other computers on the local network to play their files (using sneaker-net to get around that).

The thing is, I have not found any TV, Blu-ray player or stand alone box that will do everything that I want. Even the over priced and over hyped Google TV will not access as much as I would want, it can't even play back basic non-subscription Hulu for example! So I came to understand that to get the normal full web on my new HDTV I would have to actually build a computer based appliance of my own. And will want to find a player that will upscale well to 1080p when given lower quality input. But with the absurd mindset of the content holders claiming that Hulu can stream to a PC and then to my TV, but for some insane reason it would be evil if it streamed to a Blu-ray player, a stand alone media player, or Google TV and then to my same television set, I see no good solution for what I want than to build up my own system, which looks like it will cost about the same or less than the Logitech Google TV gelded offering..

So my advice to /. readers is don't get caught up in the stand-alone appliance or built in to a TV or Blu-ray argument, that is the wrong thing to consider. Consider building your own, which will be able to access Hulu and other things currently locked out of ALL the retail offerings.

One thing worth mentioning here is that I have realized that while my Blu-Ray player can stream from a very very limited set of sites, one of those it can stream from is YouTube. And it has the ability to select from a couple of dozen of different national YouTube countries, as well as a global choice. I eventually realized that if I intercepted the DNS query for one of the less desirable national YouTube sites, I could return the URL of a local machine. And If I were to write a YouTube emulator to run on that machine then it could pretend to be YouTube to the Blu-Ray player and let me stream from a local computer. This is all still theory, but I'm wondering if any Slashdot users have taken it any farther. The DNS look-up should not be too tricky. Just a DNS "server" on a local system that looks up all requests except the YouTube target and passes the result back. then point the router to use that local machine as the DNS server. The YouTube emulation seems to be a bit more work, I'm wondering if anyone has done anything like this or knows of any existing package that would do it. Thanks.

I tried the roll your own approach... (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243258)

on an old laptop, and for me it just wasn't worth the hassle compared to a $99 DVD player(including remote!) that boots in a matter of seconds. No, it won't do Hulu and that sucks, but compared to the expense and ongoing hassle of using a PC, the convenience is worth it.

Re:I tried the roll your own approach... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243380)

What expense? We all have a decommissioned PC that's plenty capable of running XBMC.

What ongoing hassle? I'll grant you that setup can be a bit of a hassle, but you only have to do it once.

I wouldn't give up my XBMC box for any streaming box on the market.

Re:I tried the roll your own approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243458)

You didn't really try a roll-your-own. Laptops are already underpowered computers, with little support for accessories, and you used an "old" one of those. You probably didn't even look for a good keyb+mouse solution to work as an HTPC. There are even HTPC kits that let you put together a box for around $200, then add the $35 Boxee-Box Remote control for keyb. That extra $100 give you a lot of flexibility.

Re:like asking a kid if they want beets or okra (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243360)

Well the problem you are most likely to have is SSL. I suspect these devices pull at least some resources via SSL and expect a valid certificate for *.youtube.com. Before you spend any more time on this break out wireshark and make sure its all sent in the clear.

Not anytime soon. (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243158)

I have WD TV boxes. They can stream online content, but can do more which I think no TV or Blu Ray device can. I can stream media from any uPnP stream, from any network share, and can plug in hard drives to it. As far as I can tell, TV's and whatnot can only stream internet content.

Sooner than you think (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243270)

I can plug in a hard drive to my Blu-Ray player. And it will automatically upscale the content. While I have not had a chance to do a side by side comparison, my research on the WD device indicated that it did not play several formats that my Blu-ray player will (and, in the interest of full disclosure, the Blu-ray player will not play directly from ISO files of DVDs, which I wish it would (as I already have at least one DVD that will no longer play from simple use)). The Blu-Ray players big failing is not playing from other computers on the network, but that might be bypassed by letting another computer pretend to be YouTube.

The real issue is that neither a stand alone box like the WD or a feature built into an appliance like a TV or Blu-Ray can do everything that you really want and expect from the Internet. For that you really need your own computer (even Google TV doesn't do all). So the question should be "cheap limited box, limited built in utility to a component, overpriced Google TV, or build up a PC that will do all you want?"

Media players aren't going anywhere (1)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243296)

So long as people have local content they want to access via their TV/ginormous monitor, there's going to be a market for streaming players. So long as TV manufacturers and content distributors discourage this functionality, there's going to be a market. Show me an open-source TV, open-source standalone programmable monitor or some really stupid draconian law, and I'll revisit this opinion.

No? (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243340)

Giving an answer with a question mark is a lot less annoying than asking a question without one.

Maturing "Disruptive" Market ... (1)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243350)

I agree that the market is still very much developing. The day Sony and other vendors start actually supporting a wider range of native media formats on their respective devices through their half-ass "DLNA" support which is near useless, rather than forcing me to convert file formats constantly and burn power/CPU time, I will look at this as a sign of real maturity. Sony won't ever do this as far as I can tell due to conflicting interests, similar with many other BluRay and TV type hardware vendors.

Until then, I buy WD Live! media players and place throughout my home that easily handle this internally and only burn a few watts, playing whatever media format I throw at it. I stream my media from a single network share, put my daughters videos, my wife's crap Lifetime movies, and all of my movies and music galore. Everyone is happy. Remove WD and replace with whatever other smaller tech company 3rd party media player is, and solving a very similar problem that the TV/Bluray makers don't wish to tackle.

My WDTVLive+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243364)

...has the streaming capabilities, but what I bought it for was the 4TB of storage I can attach to it. And the fact that there's Linux for it.
I like owning the shiny discs. I also like exercising my right to copy the movie on a hard drive and storing the disc away as a back up copy.

No to TV directly getting internet services (1)

hejish (852589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243384)

I do not want my TV directly getting internet services. I do not want streaming direct to my TV. I like using a Wii, Roku, Apple TV, etc. to hook up to my TV to do that for me. I hate the idea that my TV could be a security problem. TV manufacturers are not known for frequent firmware updates or their ability to understand the possible impact of being internet accessible.

Inevitable integration (1)

sjbe (173966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243386)

Standalone streaming media players probably are a fad much like PDAs and dedicated MP3 players are/were fads. They'll eventually be integrated into other devices with additional features. Many of the bigger HDTVs already have the ability to tap streaming services (like Netflix) without a separate box. The streaming players will integrate into PCs, Bluray, or Xbox/Playstation/Wii or even into the TV itself. Heck, you may even see it integrate with smartphones. The streaming technology is still pretty young so a standalone box makes sense for now but I just can't see it remaining a standalone technology for more than a few years.

Of course if the ISPs (looking at you Comcast and AT&T) have their way with bandwidth caps, it may be a while before we get to really use streaming technology. Companies like Comcast have a built in conflict of interest when it comes to streaming technology that they don't control.

Why is everyone overlooking local streaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36243406)

I think everyone is overlooking the fact that some of these streamers (ex. Boxee box, Popcorn Hour), are very good for local streaming. Most Blu-ray players require you to run a DLNA client on a server/workstation to encode on the fly because they don't support many formats. Plus, the interfaces are terrible if you have a huge library. They also usually have annoying fans.

Boxee box gives you the power of XMBC in a nice package, without the hassle of building your own HTPC. It's open source, available on all major platforms, and free. It supports way more formats than most DLNA Blu-ray players and has media scrapping functionality built-in. If anything, Blu-ray's are a passing fad. They still haven't caught on after so many years. Nobody wants stacks of discs that can scratch / get lost. The alternative is just so much better. Download some media (legally, of course), store it on a cheap NAS, and pick a movie in seconds from a movie wall. Local/Internet streaming is the future.

Boxee is on a 3 month update cycle. How often do you think TV manufacturers will push firmware updates? Maybe once every 6 months for the first year or two.

Finally,
Boxee box: $150-$200
New 52 inch TV: $2000+

Just ask tivo (2)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243424)

Tivo had a brilliant idea, first to release first to implement and revolutionize the concept of DVR, and despite being better then the setups that the cable networks bundled in almost every category, got completely crushed by falsely claimed free offerings offered by the cable and satellite companies.

Subsidiary of HTPCs, not a fad, a niche (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243444)

Most of these streaming boxes are basically low-power variants of home theater PCs. Some even include hard disks, or allow storage to be connected via USB/eSATA. I have a WD TV Live Plus, which basically runs Linux under the hood (there are even some custom firmwares, especially for legacy WDTV products, which add all sorts of stuff from bittorrent to SSH and more, not unlike what DDWRT/Tomato and other custom SOHO router firmwares add), on a bedroom TV. It connects wirelessly to my network via a cheap N dongle (some models have wireless included), and I have it pull media primarily from my Arch Linux NAS box. It has tons of codec support and handles streaming 1080p MKVs with subtitles, provided the wireless is up to snuff. If I had a Netflix subscription, it can Watch Instantly. It has an assortment of other little options as well, like being able to view picture slide shows, and an assortment of options such as Facebook integration, YouTube viewing etc... It even has DTS and can output via HDMI 1.3 (newer versions, 1.4).

These boxes are relatively cheap, easy to use even for those who lack tech know-how, and provide a great deal of flexibility and freedom in how a user accesses their media. Granted, a full on HTPC will give you more features, power, and control but that's also more expensive to do right and requires a lot more configuration. I'm not so worried about them being a fad as much as I am watching corporate greed continue to castrate their abilities. For instance, look at the native media streaming features of the PS3 and Xbox360 - they can't play nearly the amount of formats without conversion my WDTV can, much less an actual PC, nor are there the same amount of options and ability to access from different protocols (ie. SAMBA, NFS etc..). Instead, they want you to purchase content from their private stores with the DRM and prices they choose. The very same happens for all but the highest end embedded streaming functions in HDTV - they're limited to certain parners (youtube, facebook, twitter...) and certain filetypes.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that users, for the most part, are either fine with the way media is going - DRM/DLC/Consolization of convergence devices into walled gardens etc.... thus streaming boxes and whanot may move into the same niche as HTPC builders. However, so long as some of them try to provide inexpensive, quality access to your media rather than simply pushing you towards buying something, they will have a place in the household of anyone with networked storage and multi-room media needs.

Over what horizon? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36243468)

In the short run, I'd be damned surprised: Disk players have been shoehorning 'value-add' features in at least since the first DVD player or video-CD player made a vague attempt at decoding a data disk full of JPEGs with an interface that wasn't wholly unusable. Such pack-in features have largely been appallingly badly executed and(since they aren't the primary advertised features, and models change all the time) there wasn't much in the way of informed-consumer pressure to make them better. I'd be rather surprised if blu-ray players with streamer pack-ins do too much better.

Long run? Umm, sure, why not? Once time works out enough of the rough edges of something, it becomes a commodity and you can save money by integrating it into the box/motherboard/chipset/whatever. Hell, if it weren't for the various DRM bullshittery being bandied about by cable outfits, TVs would probably be well on their way to devouring STBs entirely...
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