Friday, 22 January 2016

Television mostly substandard

Now before anyone accuses me of elitism consider the proposition: this is the popular culture medium par excellence, on a par with radio, and so to make claims for excellence is merely to be taken in by the marketing departments of the TV production studios. Quality television? The best you can say about TV is that because so many people watch it it gives them something to talk about together. As a socialising mediator, TV has some undisputed virtues, but it's not a choral symphony.

This has been occupying my mind recently because of the pushback by Netflix that has been in the news, where the TV content provider is trying to stop Australian viewers from accessing its US content by pretending to be American. It's all to do with IP addresses and whatnot, so it's all a bit beyond me technically. For what it's worth, I cannot understand why anyone would consciously go out to steal someone else's content, or subvert quarantine measures, just because they believe they're entitled to see the content when they want to see it. It appears to me to be the height of selfishness to put your own needs before those of the content owner's, just because you can. And for TV shows?

But there's another reason I've been thinking about TV recently. It has to do with the parlous state of the sound quality in my own TV at home. I have to turn the sound up to 100% and even then the sound only starts coming through after the TV has warmed up. Once it's been operating for a while it works fine but you can't really adjust the volume, it's really now only got one setting. So I've been thinking about getting a Smart TV.

A lot of people seem to have objections to this kind of device, however. They seem to think that you can get a dumb TV and just add an internet dongle to it, made by Apple, Amazon or Google for example. I also see the benefit in this approach when you take cost into account. A 40-inch dumb TV here costs about $600 but a 50-inch Smart TV will cost about $1000. So there's that. But isn't it all a bit complicated to be sticking dongles into the set when you can just get a set with integrated computer smarts?

The way I watch TV it's all about the internet anyway, which is why I chose this image to go with the blogpost. I usually start watching TV from about 5pm when the ABC early news starts. I will switch between the ABC and ABC News 24 until 8pm and from then I'll watch the dramas or whatever is scheduled, but usually - as with the news programs that come on earlier - from the comfort of the chair in front of my PC. I sit with all the social media platforms open in front of me and sample the zeitgeist. It's how I watch TV these days. Maybe twice a week I'll actually sit down in front of the TV on the couch and deliberately watch a program from beginning to end. The rest of the time the TV is really only background noise.

Will my TV-watching habits change if I get a Smart TV? It's hard to say. From what I can gauge however the quality of the offerings even on pay-TV is not very high. No better than the nonsense Netflix puts out day in and day out. I prefer social media and reading. I do a fair bit of reading, and will review books that I have finished on my blog. I've also got a vlog series going with a friend that we record using a G+ hangout-to-air. That way we can make content and become famous in our own right. Much better to do that than to watch someone else's low-grade toxic goop.

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