By the time the year is out, we should be able to access iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5 and perhaps even TalkTalk’s TV services straight through our tellies. The Project Canvas set-top boxes, expected to cost between £100 and £200, will be plug-and-play, hi-def, PVR-packing versions of the web players available on your PC (and on Virgin and BT Vision) right now.
And that’s the key – who wants to sit in front of a laptop peering at a Corrie in an iPlayer window? That’s why you can already get the BBC’s service on Virgin Media, says Julia Smith, the company’s head of product management for television: “It’s still telly, and telly’s meant to be watched on the telly”. Amen to that.
More than just TV
Canvas will also support web content from the likes of Flickr, eBay, YouTube and Facebook, and pay-per-view movies from LoveFilm. TVs with internet connectivity – Samsung’s 6-series LCDs, for example – could in theory include the tech without any additional boxes, although Sony has expressed concerns that Canvas’s UK-centric technology makes manufacture complicated.
But if and when it happens, you’re in for a visual treat – forget YouTube levels of quality. Andy Baker, BT’s launch director for the tech, says: “We aim to deliver conent to your TV with the picture quality you’d expect from TV, not with the standards of most laptop video”.
So as long as you’ve got a hefty enough broadband supply, you’re laughing.