This article looks at the trend in consolidating all forms of entertainment into single purpose devices that can do it all. In a trend where your smart phone and tablet are starting to encroach and take space away from handheld gaming consoles, we see a new stream of Internet ready media devices like the Roku 2 looking to offer video and light gaming and compete a bit against the Nintendo Wii and other consoles.
How much consolidation do you want?
We all know the advantages of reducing the amount of hardware we have to buy, plug in and draw power in our homes. Single handedly I would think the current bang for buck entertainment device would probably be the Playstation 3 as it is the only current generation console that does Blu-Ray movies, DVD’s, Netflix streaming, high end graphics gaming, motion based gaming with Move and has so many peripherals you can do so much more with it. One thing it lacks though is the simplicity sought in so many of the much lighter weight gaming targets, the simple click and go. Few of the “light gamer” generation want more than to sway their wrist or flick a finger to make an action (think Angry Birds) and a game pad even with it’s fine control and array of buttons lies somewhere in the middle of efficiency. Many will say the PC Game can’t truly be replaced by the finite button arrangements of a gamepad, and others will say gamepad will work just fine.
In my opinion we have seen consolidation equal sacrifice and this can come in the form of resolution of graphics, screen sizes, compatibilities…etc. The question is I probably would never game on my Roku 2 when I have an iPad 2, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Gaming PC which are far more suited for games. Would you actually play a game on your Roku and big screen TV over your smart phone if it is the same game?
One of the reasons people play these light weight games is that they are on the go, in buses, trains, or passengers in cars. They are great time killers because you are on the go, but if you are at home how many will just sit down in front of a TV to play Farmville on your television set?
Is One Device The Best Approach?
Let’s face it, one device offers convenience but rarely will it offer the best option. Even when 3-5 competing companies all offer devices that do so many things in one the fragmentation of the compatibility will become extreme unless they all use a common platform. Backward compatibility is key, and only gaming consoles have the ability to be backward compatible with consoles of generations past which is something you won’t ever see from a media console device with the exception of maybe a media center PC that has emulation software installed.
I personally don’t mind devices focused for specific entertainment types, you also get the satisfaction that you don’t have to hog an entire media source for only 1 type of entertainment. I want to watch a Netflix movie and my kids want to play a game, fine I can setup one entertainment device in one room and then another in another room. I could buy 2 of the same “multi purpose devices” but now I am probably spending more money duplicating the same device multiple times to achieve this unless the device is powerful enough to output more than 1 stream and service to separate TV’s in the house.
I say this when I bought 3 Roku XDS boxes in the past 6 months, I did this for valid reasons I thought and I want to use it only for Netflix and Internet video streaming. I decided to use Roku XDS to replace my Satellite provider in one of my properties entirely and it has reached a level where this is feasible though there are still some availability issues with live programming and delays in being able to watch TV shows and such but these are worth living with to save the nearly $1,000 per year of having a satellite service hookup lately.
What Are Your Thoughts?
The rush to consolidate as many entertainment forms as possible into one device is on and we will start seeing many more devices become more “multi purpose” in the near future that sit in front of your TV. The thing is that all of these devices are becoming more PC like and they are saying the PC is declining and will be dead? I think that eventually everything will become more like a PC honestly as the PC is truly the only device that can do just about everything including Television, Communication, Gaming…etc.
With Windows 8 coming out and being able to run on ARM processors, this will put Windows onto much smaller devices and likely will make more “media devices” even closer to PC’s. Hell, your hybrid notebook/smartphone/tablet device in the future may go with you to work, and when you come home you just connect it (wirelessly or physically) to your TV where it servers as your media central hub again.
Where do you see the consolidation going and what do you want it to be at? Should we all carry around personal devices that have everything we like to do stay with us wherever we go all the time? Or do you envision something else forming in the future?
Image credit: android-cellphones.org