Startup L4 Media is taking a crack at Google TV and other Internet connected devices with a new widget store that features social media applications, sports, and other widgetized applications. Here is how L4 Media describes their new offering:
“Using the Panorama platform, companies can quickly deliver personalized content, such as sports scores, weather forecasts, or Facebook status updates, through useful and entertaining widgets that are specifically designed for use on the television screen with the touch of a button. Rather than try to force an Internet experience built for a computer into a television set, widgets deliver the content that consumers demand in an experience that takes into account the unique features and constraints of a television set…. Once in place, the widgets can be used to do everything from check the day’s football scores to Tweet with a friend about the latest episode of American Idol – all without interrupting television viewing.”
L4 Media is demonstrating their product for the first time this week at the TelcoTV show in Las Vegas, and has also announced a partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks to integrate with their IPTV solutions. The company has not announced when their product will be commercially available.
Leading Internet Marketing provider yourWSAdvantage has issued a press release regarding Google TV and the impact it will have on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO experts believe Google TV will have the biggest impact in the following categories:
• Local Business
• Social Media
• Google search
They feel that geo-targeted advertising potential has the greatest chance for influence on local businesses, and they also predict that Google TV’s search capabilities will give businesses greater potential to receive traffic through search.
Social media is also a big topic of discussion, and Google TV delivers more social media outlets to people’s living rooms, increasing the chance to be seen and heard on Twitter and Facebook.
Continue reading after the break for the full press release:
A couple of days ago we learned that Google was acquiring social gaming firm Slide for $182 million dollars. Today, a formal announcement was given via the official Google blog, but without a lot of details to be had. “While we don’t have any detailed product plans to share right now, we’re thrilled to welcome Max and his very talented team to Google, and we can’t wait to work together to give people more and better tools to communicate and connect.” Slide, founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, is known for producing Web-based games for social media sites like Facebook and MySpace, and its acquisition could result in more social gaming for Android and Google TV. We will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest details when they become available.
TechCrunch is reporting that Google has acquired social gaming firm Slide for $182 million dollars and is expected to make a formal announcement this coming Friday. The company, founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, is known for producing Web-based games for social media sites like Facebook and MySpace. This move adds some weight to recent rumors that Google is planning an answer to Facebook with FarmVille maker Zynga at its core. The move could also be an indication that Google is committed to bringing a better social gaming experience to Android devices such as Google TV. There is no word yet as to what Google’s exact plans are for Slide, but more light should be shed on the subject when the formal announcement is made this Friday.
Internet connected TVs and peripheral devices are poised to become the next big thing, at least according to the rate at which their numbers are increasing. The list of companies already involved, or just now getting into the game, is getting difficult to keep up with. Google, Sony, Samsung, TiVo, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, LG, Nintento, Roku, Boxee, and countless others, are all bridging the gap between the Web and TV in one way or another. Vizio is another name on that list with its VIA (Vizio Internet Apps) line, which currently bolsters 3 HDTVs, a 42″, 47″ and 55″ range of models offering support for Vizio’s line of Internet apps. In addition, Vizio will be adding VIA support to 12 more HDTVs, as well as peripherals such as Blu-ray players. Let us take a look at what VIA has to offer, and how it compares to Google TV.
The VIA line features about everything you would expect from a modern HDTV. Unfortunately, technical specifications are not available for the forthcoming Sony offering for comparative purposes, but nevertheless, here are some of the major features (for the 55″ model):
Viewable: 54.64″ diagonal
Tuner: ATSC/Clear QAM Tuner
Native Panel Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
Signal Compatibility: Supports 480i (SDTV), 480P (EDTV), 720P (HDTV), 1080i (HDTV), 1080P (FHDTV)
Colors: 1.07 Billion
Computer Support: 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1920 x 1080 via VGA and HDMI
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 2,000,000:1 (DCR)
Brightness: 500 cd/m2 (typical)
Response Time: 5ms
Viewable Angle: 178° (horizontal and vertical)
Pixel/Dot Pitch: 0.630mm (H) x 0.630mm (V)
SRS TruSurround HD™: Yes
SRS TruVolume™: Yes
SRS TruSurround XT™: No
This model also features 5 HDMI ports, S-Video, USB, as well as standard stereo and SPDIF outputs. Although the VIA units come equipped with 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi, some have reported rather slow throughput.
Enough about hardware specs, bring on the software! Vizio currently offers support for most of the popular social media and content providers you would expect from an Internet TV. Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pandora, Yahoo Video, Rhapsody, Amazon, and Showtime are among the big names, although YouTube is suspiciously (gee, I wonder why?) missing from the list. Vizio is also adding support for Blockbuster, NBC, Revision 3, and the recently announced Hulu Plus. One feature currently missing from VIA is some form of web browser, which is somewhat surprising given the slide-out QWERTY keyboard found on the remote.
Like most Internet TVs, the interface is largely widget based due to the lack of an underlying OS such as Android or iOS4. In spite of this fact, the interface functions remarkably well. Navigation is rather seamless, switching between apps is (mostly) hassle free, and the option is given to view the apps either in a short menu bar running along the bottom of the screen, or in a larger, more detailed side bar. The need for two choices of where to view the apps remains unclear, but for those of you that like options, you certainly have them. Of course, the UI does not come without its flaws. Fast-forwarding and rewinding Netflix videos can be rather choppy, and icons can sometimes randomly disappear from the widget bar. However, for the most part the interface is highly functional, and is an example for what others, such as Yahoo TV widgets, should strive to achieve.
Despite the lack of a functioning browser and app store, Vizio’s offering is among the best out of the current range of Internet TVs on the market. With support for nearly all major social media and streaming content providers, a VIA powered TV is surely a draw for those who are in the market for a new HDTV and want to make use of the best the Web has to offer. Again, we can not compare this line to the upcoming Sony device, but given the price range of $800-$1900 for the three models described above, they are certainly an affordable option. We will provide a follow-up article once technical specs and reviews begin to emerge for the Sony model, but until they do, we will close by saying Vizio is offering an affordable and well-functioning solution for experiencing content from the Web on your TV that will surely be a big competitor for the Japanese TV manufacturer, and Google, in the months to come.
Every Sunday, we recap the most important news of the week for those of you who need to play catch up. It was a somewhat slow week in terms of news, but nonetheless here are the articles we featured this week:
Studies indicate Google TV’s success lies with social networking
How Google TV can make African-American content more accessible
Al Gore reportedly sought Current TV sale to Google
A close-up look at the Logitech Revue
thePlatform to offer Google TV support for its line of video management software
Bing steps up TV search capabilities
One of the mainstays of modern technology, for better or for worse, is the seemingly unlimited number of ways individuals can stay connected with one another. What started out as email quickly evolved into instant messaging, which evolved into social networking sites like Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and the list goes on. Google aims to bridge online content with traditional TV viewing, so naturally one would expect aspects of social networking to be involved. Apps for popular social networking sites are already available in the Android Market, but as we reported earlier in the month, the full Android Market will not be available for the initial launch of Google TV. We currently do not have a list of applications that will be available on G-Day, but if new studies regarding the impact of social media hold true, Google better be including social networking apps.
New studies conducted within the past year are giving strong indications that a significant number of the population would like to have social networking integrated into their normal TV experience. A 2009 Parks and Associates survey found that well over one fourth of TV viewers between the ages of 18 and 24 would like social networking available on their TVs. Another study from ABI research shows that among all social media users, 36% would like to access their networks in the living room.
Keep in mind, these numbers are from last year, and we all know what a difference a year can make. It is almost certain Google will include some social networking apps when launch time comes, but as these studies suggest, they will be wise to try and include as many as possible.
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