[Updated] Apple iPad: What will it mean for your TV watching?

A few thoughts now that the iPad has been announced.1.
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor

A few thoughts now that the iPad has been announced.

1. No Adobe Flash means video viewing will be limited. (Probably no Silverlight support either, as it doesn't work with Safari.) You'll be able to watch YouTube videos, including in HD, just as you can on the iPhone through a dedicated app. Will Netflix or Amazon streaming services get a crack at the iPad, or will iTunes' video options completely dominate? Flo TV, live TV coming to the iPhone via a hardware add-on, could be a definite possibility for the iPad.

2. No widescreen aspect ratio. iTunes will no doubt offer versions of videos that are encoded to fill the whole screen, but a widescreen tablet might not be a great fit for other apps. A bit of a bummer if you were hoping to turn this into your personal movie player.

3. Limited connectivity options. Hardware will be connected to the iPad through a dock connector, and you'll need dongles to attach other device types. Apple lists in its specs that the tablet can be attached to an Apple Component A/V Cable; perhaps a dock connector-to-HDMI dongle will be offered by a third party to connect it to an HDTV?

4. No mention of media streaming from the iPad to other devices. As expected, it comes with built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, and should be able to stream files from your network like the iPhone.

5. Kudos to Major League Baseball's demo of its iPad-improved app, which can show live games in HD, offers DVR capabilities for broadcast (like pausing and rewinding), and unfortunately probably costs $99.95 or $119.95 like the version for PCs and Macs. Throw some more of these types of content apps on the iPad, and we might be happily nickel and dimed to death on subscription fees.

What did you think of today's iPad announcement? Buying or skipping? Let us know in the TalkBack section.


No matter what shape Apple's latest poorly kept secret takes, it's going to be a game changer in terms of digital entertainment—and that includes the kind for which your home theater is designed. Now no one will argue that the iTablet/iPad/iWhatever is going to replace the experience of watching a Blu-ray disc on a 52-inch 1080p HDTV, but the new device could change how you interact with that set—even if it means using it less than before.

We'll know a little better by this time tomorrow what some of the new Apple tablet's capabilities are, but here are a few thoughts on how it can impact home video.

1. Replace your universal remote. The tablet is expected to run on the iPhone OS, and there are already iPhone apps that let you control home automation devices or program your DVR remotely. So wouldn't you pay $10 or $20 to control your home theater with some tablet software instead of paying $100 or more for a remote that you'll lose in the couch anyway? Ideally, you'd be able to control your components and your cable/satellite set-top box from one app, but your programming provider may offer a cheap (possibly free) app for checking the TV schedule and setting your DVR to record shows. Logitech may want to start working on a Harmony app right about now.

2. Work as a media streamer. Whether it's a 3G or a 4G device, the tablet is also sure to feature built-in Wi-Fi capabilities as well. That means it should be able to communicate with the growing number of HDTVs that are DNLA certified, functioning as a conduit between media files and your flat screen. That means you won't need a dedicated piece of hardware connected to your set to stream music and video from the Internet and your home network. So long Apple TV. While Apple will use the tablet to extend iTunes' hegemony, it will presumably have to open up to apps from competitors like Netflix and Amazon's video streaming services. I'll be curious to see what the storage options will be, which will determine whether you'll be downloading a ton of audio and video content, or just accessing it from the cloud.

3. Serve as an auxiliary TV. Depending on your viewing needs, a 10-inch or 11-inch LED backlit LCD (or maybe OLED) screen directly in front of you might make a better display in your bedroom than a 26-inch HDTV you have to place several feet away from your bed. While the hype will be about mobile TV viewing on the tablet—whether through a service like Flo TV, on Web sites like Hulu, or via your cable provider's online viewing options—I can see a lot of scenarios where you'd want to watch something on it in bed. Don't want to bother your spouse by watching a late-night baseball game on your regular TV? Maybe you'll be able to view it on the Apple tablet via MLB's iPhone app with some headphones on. Or access an obscure film unavailable on DVD or on-demand and watch it in under the covers. Then again, you could set up shop with it anywhere in the house and watch something, even if you're in a room with a TV already on.

Those are three quick thoughts that came to my mind. I'm sure there are plenty of other possibilities that could pop into your head as the rampant speculation reaches a fever pitch in the remaining hours before Apple's event. Let us know your thoughts in the TalkBack section.

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