TagTelevision

Beautiful Dumb and Fast

Maybe it’s getting older or my life’s work in repairing and fixing broken things but it drove me to this simplicity. I want something simple. I want it to work and work well.

Reading The Daily Zen #2 “Beautiful, Dumb, & Fast”, a line from the post stuck with me. It puts my own feelings about the new race of smart televisions.

what I personally want out of my TV is very simple and can be boiled down to a phrase – beautiful, dumb, and fast.

iPod TV
iPod video from Alexandre van de sande

When I see a 3D TV I see a gimmick that gives me a headache. It fixes a problem I don’t have. And 3D implementations I’ve seen have given me terrible headaches after a few minutes.

When I see a smart TV I see a device that will never see software updates or fixes. I better love every feature and issue because it’s never going to change.

That’s the problem with buying into something. I’ve not only bought that TV. But I’ve bought into its ecosystem of applications. I’ve bought into its design. I’ve bought into everything that TV wants to be and nothing it doesn’t.

I’d rather buy into something more flexible. My entire home media setup is based around Plex, a Roku box for the bedroom and an Xbox 360 in the living room.

Plex powers both the Roku and Xbox. I can stream video to either device. Plex sits on an iMac, the last desktop left in the house. It’s always on so it manages the Plex media library hosted on a small NAS hooked to it. It also manages my wireless iTunes syncing for my iDevices.

The Roku and Xbox have also been actively developed for and even before Plex was officially supports on Roku, there was a way to add it as a custom channel. While the Xbox is a closed box, it’s a wildly popular and fairly well supported one.

There are moving pieces to this setup for sure. But it also allows for cheap replacements, upgrades and flexibility. Can take my Roku box with my on vacation and still access Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and HBO Go. I can’t do that with a smart TV.

And if my Roku box dies, it’s a $50 fix. If my smart TV dies… I’m out a television and all of its smarts.

Give me something dumb any day.

TV is not the default

Television was not the default in my home growing up. We did not have cable television. We could not get cable television had we wanted to. We lived too far out in a rural area of Northern Virginia. ((Rural as in, the school bus was late because the herd of cows in the road would not move. Have you ever tried to move a cow?))

We had an antenna and a series of stations from the surrounding area. We had FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS ((Sometimes)) from Washington DC. We also had WDCA and Channel 50 which I can’t recall what station it was affiliated with. We also has PBS, and a hand full of local, educational programming stations. So we were never for want of documentaries and science programming. As far as mainstream TV, it was a toss-up. Sometimes you could watch an entire hour of television without interruption and static snow across the screen. Other times, it would render whatever you were trying to enjoy unwatchable and sporting events were no better.

I got to thinking about this because I found myself missing the lazy, quiet Sunday afternoons at home. I would be curled up with a good book or magazine. ((This was a time before the internet.)) I loved the rainy days most of all because the drops would splash off our tin roof. ((Did I mention we lived in a 150+ year old farm-house?))

I was thinking about the peace and quiet of those Sundays because my wife and I were recently curled up on our couch, under a soft blanket reading. Only she had her Kindle and I had my iPad using the Kindle app. It was peaceful and quiet and I was very happy.

The TV was off. The stereo not playing. No video games or talking. It was just peaceful serenity and reading. The Kindle and it’s related apps for iPhone and iPad have reignited my love of reading. But that’s another story for another day.