Will Apple Enter the Smart TV Market?

There are lots of convenience and “smart” features these days when it comes to your TV viewing experience. One of the greatest features has traditionally been the ability to control a wide variety of devices with one. This began with the time tested universal remote control that still dominates many home theater set-ups today.

The experience was improved further when the likes of Logitech’s Harmony remotes came forward, allowing you to control multiple devices with the touch of a single button. I have a Harmony 610 that I’ve had for six years, and I call it my “magic” remote. It was less than $70 retail and does the job for what I need.

I push watch TV, and it just works (after proper configuration): My TV turns on to the correct input, as do my receiver and cable box. Likewise, when I press the Watch a Movie option, my Blu-ray comes on with the other necessary components. It really has provided some ease of use for me.

Around the same time Harmony remotes hit the scene, Sony too had gotten smart with BraviaSync – a technology that allows interconnected Sony devices to work in unison. As the price of larger TVs has come down the last 2-3 years, I was able to grab a 50″ 1080p 3D LED Sony Bravia KDL-50W800B a couple years ago for a mere $750 on sale to couple with the rest of my Sony gear.

Since I have a Sony 3D Blu-ray player and one of Sony’s first 3D capable receivers that shipped around 2009 or so (STR-DH810), along with the PS3 and now a PS4, all I have to do now is turn on a single device and the rest of the Sony devices automatically power on and set themselves to the correct inputs thanks to BraviaSync. The TV remote can even control media on the PS4 like magic, thanks to this tech, and each remote can then drive the main receiver audio level.

Smart TV

While these things were evolving, smart features began to show up baked into the TVs themselves as apps. I have one of the earlier Smart TVs – a 2010 Vizio 3D 32″ LCD (E3D320VX) I picked up refurbished in 2011 and was thrilled with the feature set at the time I got it. With the touch of a single button on the remote, I can watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, etc. It does passive 3D nicely for a small set (I love 3D – but that’s a story for another day).

What’s the point of all of this?

The point here is that between ease of control and built-in smart features in TVs, today as the tech has evolved – and more and more people are getting accustomed to the conveniences.

Enter Apple?

Where does Apple fit into all of this?

With WWDC around the corner and last year’s lukewarm launch of the new Apple TV, it only seems fitting that the next step would be for Apple to release its own Smart TV to jump-start sales of the new Apple TV and other items. An Apple smart TV shouldn’t be a fully separate standalone entity with all of the smart features onboard (it could have some basics), but rather it should be designed to be integrated with all other components Apple already sells to make the other devices more appealing with how they may work with the TV. The Apple TV set top box or a Mac mini or both is what will make a TV such as a proposed Apple branded Smart TV be “Smart”.

Imagine somehow piping a streaming cable service through your Apple TV with a service similar to PlayStation’s Vue? You could watch a specially designed workout video from Apple’s provided content while you have on your Apple Watch and get instant real time feedback on the TV for heart rate calories, etc. You could just touch a button on your iPhone and control everything connected simultaneously similar to how BraviaSync or Harmony functions.

Imagine other possibilities? Think about being at a meeting and then using an iPad Pro to draw up a presentation? With an extra registered Apple Pencil to the TV and a special tip designed for use with the TV, someone else could draw their input on the TV itself while you draw on the iPad.

The kids could have a giant canvas to make artwork. With a 3D emitter, you could watch 3D content or put on a VR headset designed specifically with the TV in mind. With a Mac mini connected instead of the Apple TV, perhaps this could be the way iOS and OS X are easily integrated. The TV could act as a “bridge” between the two, allowing you to shift your experience back and forth as needed.

Maybe the next Mac mini gets the guts of the Apple TV added to it, so it can function fully as both a computer and full entertainment media device out of the box all controllable by any iOS device. No wires needed with AirPlay, and with today’s integrated video processors could even mean the ability to use the Mac mini as a computer on a dedicated monitor, while using it as a controllable media device at the same time by separating the video streams!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I know Apple has been toying around with a TV for a long time. I look at a potential Apple branded TV more or less as a smart monitor rather than a TV, but with lots of special connectivity back to Apple devices. Apple could certainly take a page out of Sony’s book with this!

I would propose a 4K 120 Hz or 240 Hz OLED 3D set with Passive 3D and connectivity for Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI/DVI and Component Video with sizes ranging from 55″ to 90″. The displays should be able to be daisy chained if desired via Thunderbolt to build massive display walls for a variety of additional potential.

Keywords: #appletv #smarttv

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