A recent article posted on the website zdnet.com compared several new personal technology devices. Today, some highlights.
One of the most important tech developments recently has been the release of several Internet television products. They promote "cord-cutting" or the elimination or replacement of cable and satellite television service in favor of Internet-based solutions.
It's no surprise that Google is a leader in this effort, as the company is always trying to get into markets where they can sell ads. Their platform is Google TV, and the first major offering is the Logitech Revue device. The zdnet.com article has some good things to say, but also makes the point that the device is a bit complicated and does not yet have many apps.
The next contender mentioned in the zdnet.com article is the Boxee Box. This is an oddly shaped device that has gotten a lot of attention from many online blogs. It gets rave reviews for its innovative remote control and the design of its interface.
You can access your own personal video and other media files with this device. It probably gets the most press, however, because it attempts to integrate social networking into its operation. You can add friends, see video they are watching and share suggestions.
This feature will probably migrate to most Internet TV devices, but not everyone will be glad of that. Many feel that social networking can be intrusive and distracting in certain cases. Fortunately, it will probably be an optional feature.
The next device mentioned in the article is the Apple TV. It received a major update recently and has become a much more useful tool. It is small and has a lot of available content. Most importantly it finally offers Netflix, the most extensive and responsive online video streaming service.
The main complaint on this device from online reviewers seems to be that Apple is moving toward a more "locked down" approach in all its offerings, as evidenced by the recent announcements about its upcoming operating system and its iPhone OS.
Finally we have the Roku box. This device started out as a Netflix specific solution but has evolved into a general purpose video delivery powerhouse.
It comes in three very reasonably priced versions, and offers Amazon Video, Netflix, Major League Baseball and more. Programmers love this box because it offers the ability to create custom channels for content.
While these devices attempt to provide Internet video externally, several companies are integrating Web connections directly within TV sets. Yahoo has been aggressive about getting its web widget offerings to TV manufacturers, and we'll probably see a large number of companies showing both types of solutions at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show or CES in January.