Is this the highest resolution desktop we’ve ever seen? It looks a bit like Windows from a distance, until you get up close. High resolution beach-scapes, ultra-realistic water ripples - is this the highest resolution desktop we’ve ever seen?
Not quite. The menu system you see in our photo gallery (click the photos on the right) is on a TV, showing live TV, with desktop Internet apps (widgets) overlaid.[Click the photo gallery on the right]
The chip runs desktop Internet widgets, on top of what you’re watching - things like eBay auctions, Flickr photos, stocks. It works using an Intel chip inside the TV, and an Ethernet Internet connection (more on this below).What it looks like
Internet on TV is nothing new, but this is slicker than anything I’ve seen so far. For one thing, there wasn’t a browser in sight in the demo I saw today.
The are two major menus that appear, overlaid on top of whatever you’re already watching.
First is the “dock”, which is a taskbar-like menu across the bottom of the screen , reminding me more of Mac OS X than Windows. The dock displays whatever Widgets you have installed on your system, like Flickr, Twitter, eBay, the weather, or Internet TV.
|The Widget Channel, showing the menu dock along the bottom of the screen|
Click on a widget, and you get a vertical widget box which takes up roughly a third of the screen. In the demo I saw, this “sidebar” (similar in concept to the Vista sidebar), showed basic data feeds like weather in your current city, stocks you’re tracking, or friend’s messages.
Enter slideshow mode, and the dock at the bottom of the screen turns into thumbnail viewer, with the entire screen displaying the current photo. The system can pull photos and video off a DNLA certified home network, too.
|Flickr feed displayed in the sidebar|
Maybe not. It’s the “widget engine” created by Yahoo. You download small widgets which sit on yur PC and keep you constantly updated on the weather and news. The new Intel/Yahoo “Widget channel” (the name for this new TV/PC hybrid) uses the same engine, so theoretically anyone building widgets for the PC can now also do so for your TV.
This could actually be useful
As cynical I am about efforts to combine the TV and the PC, this actually looks useful. For example, you could use an eBay “channel” to keep an eye on your current auctions, while you watch tv.How do get it?
The system uses a new Intel chip called CE 3100, which eventually Intel hopes to have embedded into TVs, set top boxes, PVRs and Blu-Ray players with Ethernet. Apparently there is a TV vendor working with Intel on this, but Intel won’t say who. For the moment, the demos I’ve seen here at IDF use set top boxes, which have the CE 3100 inside.Please, let there be no “loading time” for TVs
One of my concerns about these type of PC-based menus on TVs, is the start-up load times. A senior Intel rep. downplayed this – for one, the system doesn’t run Vista or XP (it’ll run Linux too), and the data feeds will only kick in “on demand”, so you shouldn’t be waiting for anything to load when you first turn on your TV.Can’t I already get the Internet on my TV?
Yes. You can setup a Shuttle mini-system and feed directly to your TV via HDMI. You can link your TV to your network/storage box via a set-top box, or get a TV with Ethernet built-in, like Samsung’s 6 Series.
The difference here, is that this is the first embedded Intel system-on-a-chip for the TV itself. This means that the TV will run Intel-compatible apps and instructions, so Flash and other Web content should work better.
In theory (all theoretical, mind you) this should mean a far less-clunky experience than you’ve been used to. Efforts by Sony to add their Xross Media Bar menu for browsing photo galleries and video/music are impressive, but this menu goes further, adding downloadable widgets for any conceivable data feed you can think of.Insert obligitory Nintendo Wii reference
As well as doing HD video decoding, and 7.1channel surround sound, Intel’s chip also has 3D graphics. Not high end Far Cry graphics, but enough to have some potential. The demo we saw added some nice eye-candy to the TV’s usually staid menus, even creating a fancy cover-flow type carousel for choosing the TV channel, or for showing picture-in-picture.
A senior Intel rep also claimed the CE 3100 chip has roughly the graphics capability of a Nintendo Wii, and yes, those involved are looking at TV remotes with motion sensors built in. The tricky keyboard problem
The hurdle for just about every Internet/TV product I’ve seen has been the keyboard – it’s big, clunky, and doesn’t fit into the lounge room environment very well. Intel did their on stage demo today using a remote control, which is all well and good, but you’re going to want a keyboard, for typing messages – even if it’s just for logging into eBay accounts.
Either way, this is exciting. The TV, after the PC and phone, is the new frontier for the Internet, and eventually this stuff will fall into place. As Intel pointed out, we spend far too much time already watching the idiot box – so we might as well make good use of that time.Follow our Intel IDF 2008 coverage:
- IDF: Spot the Eee PC
- IDF: “Turbo mode” is back for PCs
- Intel claims 5-year life for SSD
- IDF: The "Intel iPhone" not such a crazy idea
- Intel IDF: Spotted, a Centrino 2 desktop
- Intel promises “screaming performance” for Core i7
- Live from Intel IDF - Atom, Centrino 2, Larrabee