My changing PC and TV habits

Did your TV watching and PC usage habits change this year? Mine did significantly and I need your feedback. Are you like me? Probably not. Comments wanted.
Written by John Dodge, Contributor on

I used to write that the principal purposes for PCs and TVs would never intersect.

Here's my argument: watching TV is numbingly passive requiring little brain power while the PC is interactive necessitating thought, movement and action. Never the twain shall meet.

TV and a laptop = ?? credit: 24hourtrading.co.uk

In that vein, I thought the popular notion a decade ago of interactive TV would never take root. Remember when broadcasters were furiously scrambling to come up with on-screen shopping (beyond the Shopping Channel, that is) and all manner of interactivity. Breathless apps, all, but useless, too.

By interactive TV, I mean you'd constantly be calling up stats and factoids on the TV screen while watching, say, a football game. Or bios of sitcom actors.

To my knowledge, the football example didn't materialize, perhaps blunted by Google and tickers most sports channels run across the bottom of the screen. Let's face it: you have to take time out from stats to hoist the mead.

But a funny thing happened this year for me which makes TV interactive, sort of. I have a netbook couch-side, a laptop bedside and a desktop in my office - or everywhere there's a TV. I have mobile broadband so I can blog on trips (my wife drives) and from anywhere.

While sitting and not reading a real newspaper or book, I am on a portable computer almost all the time I'm not on my desktop (like now). A lot of the time, that's also in front of a TV. With the football example, we or I simply Google (is "Google" officially a verb, yet?) a factoid on anything else that pops into our tiny male brains. A laptop or netbook is always nearby not to mention a wireless connection of one sort or another.

Since I find interactivity more interesting than passivity, I am engaged on the laptop and only half-watching TV much of the time. "Did you see that," my wife asks. "No," I respond and we rewind the DVR. Unlike my 20-something children, I don't watch TV shows and movies on my PC - yet. I watch a lot of short Youtube and CBSi stuff related to SmartPlanet.com, Lady Gaga videos and a few jokes here and there. But TV shows and movies are just a matter of time.

I don't think my new-found inattention to TV threatens network broadcasting or shows as much the big boxy or rectangular TV itself. A 27-iMac is a wonderful wide screen for watching a TV or movie unless the activity to you is inherently social where you need the big box in a room so multiple humanoids can watch.

And hooking up the PC to the TV? Why? Do you do that? Game consoles I understand, but going through the TV with a laptop is self-defeating: that turns something efficient and portable into a big immovable object. I am curious how your PC and TV habits have changed or not, intersected or diverged. Comment here and I will repsond.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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