Visual entertainment used to be a simple choice of two screens. For one, you sat down on the couch and watched your favorite shows during their scheduled broadcast. Everything came down the wire. There were few channels for you to choose from, all black and white, and you needed to stand up, go to the TV and turn the knob on the side to change channels. Secondly, you’d take a trip to the nearest movie theater and buy a ticket to watch the latest blockbuster movie. TV or going to the cinema were really your only options. Fast forward to today and you're spoilt for choice. The selection for how, when and where you view your visual entertainment has grown by leaps. Television is still a major source and the technology has advanced with the advent of High Definition (HD) TVs and LCD screens coupled with the now hundreds of channels offered by cable and satellite programming. However, the Internet along with PCs and mobile devices brings a whole new dimension to the visual experience and is driving a shift in the way people seek out personal entertainment. This shift is influencing how consumers view, edit and share visual content such as photos and videos, with family and friends. More people are using these devices not only for work, but for entertainment as well. Advances in computing technology are helping to support the trend.
The development of TV
The evolution of the TV was a long process, but illustrates how technology changes and with it, how viewers' expectations increase. When TVs first hit they were small, boxy, black and white, and didn’t provide great picture quality. The television stayed this way for quite some time without much change. For many, it was considered a luxury, an essential item for a ‘dream home’.
A past era… (Image credit: Getty Images)
As time passed, television became an increasingly popular and affordable visual entertainment medium; picture quality, including the addition of color, improved and screen sizes grew. By the mid-1990s people were still using the large boxy TVs; however, television had become the dominant medium, and even encroached into feature film territory with the advent of VCRs and DVD players. This was the age of the “big screen” but these TVs not only had big screens but were big and bulky in size and took up a lot of space.
Following the 1990’s, the progression of TV technology picked up quickly. Manufacturers developed HD, plasma and LCD TVs, which not only dramatically increased picture quality but also dramatically reduced the space taken up by televisions. These types of TVs were around for several years and were the state of the art in visual displays. Manufacturers soon came out with LED TVs that provided still richer colors and even smaller sized footprints, but continually larger screens. By this point, bigger, brighter picture quality, including enhanced audio through surround sound quality, is something that consumers have come to expect when experiencing visual entertainment.
At almost the same time that color TV was bringing hours of entertainment to people’s lounge rooms, the humble computer was also emerging as the newest technology tool on the block. The first Personal Computer (PC) was only capable of handling 4, 8 or 16 bits of information at any one time, but was quickly seen as a productivity and work machine. Back then, the PC was seen as the sleeker, more modern version of the typewriter. The screen size was small, only five inches in size, monochrome in color and couldn’t display more than 52 characters per line of text. The earliest days of digital displays were dominated by rows of blinking indicator lights, turning on and off when the computer processed certain instructions. This evolved to a ‘glass teletype’ screen, which was hooked up to a computer through a cable that transmitted code only for text characters – no graphics were used at the time.
The current day living room has changed (Image credit: Getty Images)
Early computer graphics were primarily used for research, to display graphical representations of data.Today, graphics are changing the way we view content on our computing devices – whether it be on our desktop, notebook or mobile device. Like the progression of TV technology, processor graphics evolved from basic, text-based graphics to enable greater levels of interactivity, image realism and real-time image generation on your PC. In addition, the introduction of video outputs to computing technology meant an ordinary television set could be used as a computer monitor, converting a composite video into a signal that simulated an over-the-air broadcast. Color graphics for PCs was introduced in the early 1980s by a variety of computer vendors, each offering different standards of processor and monitor technology to enable sharp, high-resolution color images.
From these modest beginnings, the PC would soon become an essential part of how everyday consumers would view and consume entertainment.
Our fascination with visual experiences doesn’t just stop with the TV set. Over time, personal computing and the advent of the Internet have given consumers access to a broader range of visual entertainment that includes things like online gaming, as well as videos and picture viewing and editing. Advancements in PC processing technology such as integrated graphics, changes to computer form factors and screen sizes have evolved over time, in line with the new uses of PCs. While the TV has brought about hundreds of channels, the Internet has created a wealth of user-generated content – in 2010, for the first time in history, Chinese Internet users produced more content than professional websites, accounting for almost 51 percent of Internet use. As more people tap into the online world to view user-generated content, the visual experience of PCs will increasingly become more important.
Simply put, through the evolution of television technology, from black and white on small screens, to high definition full color on massive screens, visual quality has become a non-negotiable item for consumers.
Visual entertainment 2.0
Today, consumers no longer simply tune in to watch a TV show once a week. Viewers can now watch exactly the same TV program on a TV set, laptop, tablet PC or mobile phone. While TV has created the habit of home entertainment, the new devices, including PCs, have made entertainment more personal and mobile. Consumers no longer need to wait to get home to watch their favorite shows; they can do it on the go. The latest in built-in graphics technology means viewing your videos anywhere is more convenient. Consumers can stream any content they want, at any time. This allows users to edit and share any video or visual content they find online quickly and easily – supporting the growing trend for user-generated content and content consumption on mobile devices.
Reflecting this trend is today’s visual experience, which is more about finding favorite clips, re-runs or full shows online to watch, re-watch and share. Now, people are digging deeper into the history of a show, or a movie, or an actor’s career and experiencing a deeper connection to their favorite programs. It’s about discovering other similar content and creating a personalized entertainment experience that makes that once-a-week episode all the more enjoyable – and engaging. For these viewers, online video is the primary source for access to and information about the programs they’re passionate about. Of course, every day viewers still watch TV shows, only now, they figure out what to watch – and keep tuning in – to what captures their attention online.
Online video in particular is truly ramping up and the statistics are staggering – more than 35 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and nearly four out of five Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region are viewing online videos each month. Not only are consumers viewing more content and video online, but they are editing it and sharing it with their friends. The consumption of visual entertainment is shifting from one or two screens to many new screens – from the TV to the PC. With the technology available today, users can share content and entertainment by seamlessly connecting to what’s available on the Internet, on their TV. Consumers now have many screen options to access content.
Products available in the market
Complimenting this trend, is a move away from viewers primarily watching scheduled programming toward a multi-platform approach, including a mix of Internet content, on-demand and pre-recorded video. According to one study, viewers in Japan were said to watch the most amount of television and video across multiple platforms per week (21 hours, which is the same as viewers in the United States), with Australia coming in at second place and China coming in fourth place.
Statistics on accessing video content on specific video sites in Asia-Pacific also highlight some interesting trends. According to another study, Google Sites, driven predominantly by video viewership at YouTube.com, was the top video destination in 2010, based on the number of videos viewed in Asia-Pacific. Facebook ranked among the top three video properties in Malaysia, Australia and Singapore, while Tudou Sites ranked second in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
These statistics point to a clear shift in viewing habits, as consumers crave a more immersive, personalized and interactive experience.
The PC is the new TV
Like the progression of TV technology over the years, advancements in PC screen and processor technology have resulted in more and more viewers using them as a device of choice. PC’s are now the go-to entertainment center for consumers – whether it’s for watching a YouTube video on your desktop at work, watching a sit-com on your laptop while you’re on the go; or hooking your laptop up to your LCD TV to watch a full-length movie in your living room.
Watching HD movies and content, transcoding music and video, editing photos, multi-tasking and socializing online – are all tasks that we do with our PCs. Whether it be gaming on the go, or wirelessly streaming favorite movies and TV shows from your laptop to your TV, the latest in processor technology that is available today can give you a better standard of computing, suited to your visual entertainment needs.
So, where to next?
The way in which we are using computers is evolving at an explosive rate, fuelling demand for an even more powerful and visually appealing experience. With more and more viewers going online to watch TV shows and videos, an exceptional quality visual experience is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have.
How it all comes together
Updates to technology platforms are fuelling the trend from one viewing screen to another. New technologies that offer quick media transcoding and transmission have paved the way for consumers to share entertainment and content with any device, on different screens. The power of the Internet has also meant that consumers are exposed to more unique and interesting visual entertainment. When it comes to technology, we are only on the cusp of realizing our full visual potential. Increased broadband connectivity and accessibility, faster processing and streamlining technologies will mean that the PC will be the primary hub for the next generation of visual entertainment that is equally seamless and visually stunning.
Contributed by Sandeep Aurora, Director, Marketing, Intel South Asia.
Sandeep is responsible for driving the Intel Brand and defining the market growth strategies for all of Intel’s products and technologies in the South Asia Region. Sandeep has been with Intel for 14 years and prior to this was the Director of Sales and Marketing. Sandeep’s mandate was driving growth of products and technologies, IT adoption, govt. Relations, managing team leading efforts in software solutions in APAC, Distribution and channel & retail marketing. He was also working closely with Software vendors to bring software solutions for oems and channel partners in South Asia.
With a total work experience of over 20 years, prior to Intel, Sandeep had worked with HCL Technologies for 6 years where he was responsible for Business Development and growth in new market segments. Sandeep has a Bachelor’s degree in Science from Delhi University and a Master’s degree in Management from IMT, Ghaziabad.
Sandeep is also a Member of the Executive council at MAIT. His professional strengths lie in the various profiles he has held at Intel and his analytical skills of the market that he has associated with.
Broadband, desktops, General, HD, home, home networking, Intel, Internet, Laptops, Notebooks, Sandeep Aurora, streaming, technology, television, Transcoding, TVs, Wireless, wireless streaming, YouTube