Telly Selly Time
Worse, despite my old TV's impeccable timing in keeling over in the week that Google was expected to announce its new generation of TV products, Google ruined the fun by doing nothing of the sort. Instead, it wasted everyone's time by showing off a $300 Pokéball.
I choose you. Not.
The original Google TV product – a service embedded into other manufacturers' TVs and set-top boxes – was a commercial failure, so the company seems to be holding back on doing it again just for the moment. It's probably waiting for Apple to come clean on those 'iTV' rumours.
Good luck with registering that as a brand name in the UK, by the way.
I suspect what I'd really like is a shamelessly gadgety product such as the Sony NSZ-GS7.
Of course, this could only work out in a scenario in which I lived as a childless, friendless, orphan bachelor. Back in the real world, I repeatedly have to talk family members through the process of locating the on/off button on the back of the Virgin Super Hub, so can you imagine what it would be like phoning home to explain how to stop accidentally pressing keys on the keyboard on the back of the remote control?
It would be like a scene from Airplane: "Pull up! Pull up! You're coming in too low!"
Now, have you ever flown a dual-band 802.11n router before?
Source: Paramount Home Entertainment
A trip to my local electronics emporium to see the things in action was inevitable. A shop assistant with a heavy Indian accent summed it up beautifully – "Your television is just like a big mobile phone" – which is just about the most off-putting yet perfectly accurate thing you can say about the current state of smart TV.
I bought a non-smart TV at sale price and will bide my time a little longer before Google, Apple, Sony and whoever (Samsung?) get their acts together to produce a product that isn't like a big mobile phone. In the meantime, I will continue delivering my weekly domestic training course on how to access the internet using the Playstation 3 – at least until the notorious YLOD provokes another call to the Dabbs support hotline. ®
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. His spouse often asks why he still isn't a dot-com billionaire. By the way, have you ever tried doing a Google search for 'Google TV' using the Chrome browser? All it does is search for the word 'TV'.
Buudy and his wife reportedly had the following exchange.
W: The TV is not working. We want to watch a movie.
B: Ah, are you using the complicated remote control?
B: Are you sitting in the brown chair next to the table?
B: Open the drawer, put the complicated controller back inside, close the drawer, and never touch it again.
W: (mumble mumble)
B: Pick up the colorful simple controller and press the large cartoon-like button marked 'Watch Movie'.
W: Okay, it's working now.
Not fit for purpose
It's disappointing how over-specced, under-delivering, and user-unfriendly most home tech kit is.
There should be a calm, pipe-smoking, cardigan-clad chap included with every item, whose job is to get it all working and smile benevolently as the happy consumer family enjoys the results.
It's also disappointing that we have conditioned ourselves into accepting this state of affairs. "Product A has feature X." "Yes, but does it work, and is it usable?"
That's a question almost as rarely heard as, "Dad, you look tired. How about a nice cup of tea?"
Being a sparky (Electronics Engineer.. not an electrical engineer, and yes there is a difference!), I get the same all the time.. parents, partner, friends.. can you fix my (insert latest fad-gadge here)
Normally my response is "No problem! By the way, I charge £40 per hour.. because I don't have the schematics, BOM or any other information for it and I'm not likely to ever get it from the manufacturer, I have no idea how long it will take or even if can be fixed"
"£40 per hour!! I'd be better off buying a new one!"
to which I reply with a smug smile
"Yes.. you would!"