Drop the Box

Amongst all of the hype, perhaps the most significant, if under-reported, development at this year’s CES show is the development of screens with decoding capabilities built in. In simplistic terms this means that you no longer need a set top box – you just plug your internet connection in to the screen.

It’s the antithesis of Microsoft’s Bill Gates’ vision of a ‘server in every home’ and shows how Microsoft base their marketing on wishful thinking these days rather than the reality of the marketplace.

With connections of up to 45Mbps supported by these screens and a reliable service from the likes of Verizon or BT, there’s little need for local storage and interface – yes, it works just like the internet where everything is served dynamically and remotely.

Indeed, Sony have gone a step further with the Bravia Interactive Video Link – a small unit that bolts onto all future Sony TVs, LCDs and plasmas and acts as a STB. Unfortunately it is operating a ‘walled garden’ service – when will Sony learn to embrace the open market ?

Panasonic have also begun to built their latest STB technologies into their screens.

It’s going to be an interesting battle between the STB and screen-only product sets.