The "Idiot Box" Is Getting Smarter

The first generation of digital televisions was rather like some Hollywood starlets: slim, sleek and beautiful, but not especially smart. That is changing.

Oyster Bay, NY - November 4, 2004 - The first generation of digital televisions was rather like some Hollywood starlets: slim, sleek and beautiful, but not especially smart.

That is changing with the second wave of digital TVs, according to Vamsi Sistla, ABI Research's director of residential entertainment technologies. New models from CE giants Hitachi, LG and Philips offer "enough intelligence to play a much bigger role in the home entertainment experience," he says.

"They have hard drive storage, built in Interactive Program Guides (IPGs) and are digital cable ready".

Right now, the hard drives are ostensibly there to support the software -based program guides, but some new models boast 80 GB disks - - far more than is required for any EPG, and clearly intended ultimately to serve as storage for downloaded video.

Recording content to an internal drive for later viewing will clearly offer users a much more seamless and convenient experience than cranking up the old VCR. These DTVs with appropriate interfaces address content owners' concerns about illegal proliferation of their premium content.

But Sistla closes with a caveat. Noting that some models even include extraneous devices such as printer ports, he warns, "It's great that manufacturers are making more intelligent TVs. But they should resist the temptation to include every possible feature. That's just turning the 'idiot box' into Pandora's box."

ABI Research's "Residential Entertainment Service" details the global shipments, revenues, and average selling prices (ASP) for major CE device categories. The service also includes coverage of digital television (DTV) displays, DVD players and recorders, HD DVD players/recorders, retail PVRs, media centers, Home -Theater -In -a -Box, and network -enabled devices.

The company's report "The Emergence of Portable Audio, Video & Game Markets" looks at the global trends in shipment, average selling price (ASP), and revenue growth across portable audio, video and game devices.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations that support annual research programs, quarterly intelligence services and market reports in wireless, automotive, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. Their market research products can be found on the web at, or by calling 516.624.2500.

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