SEATED IN MY sitting room, watching the news go by in my favourite tub chair (at left), I have to agree with Steve Swasey from Netflix. "We are in a three-act play and right now we are in the early stages of the second act." In the first act, Netflix convinced customers to rent their DVDs through a website that makes it possible to search a huge database and recommends films on the basis of their previous picks. The DVDs are sent and returned by Post. The second act sees Netflix offer movies and television shows online that can be watched on a PC. The internet offers choice and the ability to search that a television channel cannot. For this reason, I've wiring our main television set to broadband internet connectivity. But there's a third act worth noting.
In the eyes of Netflix, the third act to hit my sitting room will be the end of the DVD. Nobody is saying when that will happen and personally, I think there will always be a fan audience for boxed sets. Swasey thinks "the typical consumer cycle lasts 10 to 20 years and the DVD is about 10 years old." Perhaps when every new housing estate in Ireland comes equipped with fibre optic cable to the outside of the new homes we will see the third act emerging all across the country.
In the meantime, I'm hoping for slimline polite technology in my sitting room. The latest resident, a PVR, emits some noise from its fan. There are so many ways of incorporating computer technology into a living room without an ugly (read noisy) PC taking up space. And I don't want to build a box around the computer technology. By next Christmas, I want to set up a big screen menu that lets me navigate our entire collection of live playlists and stored music from our TV screen.
Tomorrow Panasonic will show its 150-inch plasma screen that towers six feet high and stretches 11 feet wide. You would have to remove the window behind the chair (left, above) in order to place that £50,000 beast on the wall of my sitting room. But it would fit on the wall and the wall is strong enough to support this plasma screen monster. Panasonic spokesman Jeff Samuels says the unit--dubbed the "Formula 1 car of TV" by ElectricPig--will "eventually be a viable commercial product." To get the best value from the screen, you need to sit 31 feet away from it. That means people on the path below will get excellent viewing pleasure from our sitting room, if we plump for the purchase.
There are side effects. Joseph Reger, chief technology officer at Fujitsu Siemens Computers in Munich says, "A 50-inch TV consumes about 300 watts today. If the Panasonic is three times bigger, the energy consumption is likely to be a magnitude higher." I believe that, and I also believe a 50-inch plasma television screen would double as a heater for our cavernous sitting room.
There is so much to see, so many gadgets to touch and use. And a lot of excitement building for the third act.