back to article 2012: an epoch-defining year for home entertainment

2012 may have confounded Mayan predictions of global catastrophe, but it certainly proved an epochal year for home entertainment technology. The past 12 months have seen seismic changes to the living room landscape, with analogue TV finally running out of steam, the first sighting of a higher resolution future and a wholesale …


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  1. Paul Westerman

    2012 may have confounded Mayan predictions of global catastrophe

    Not yet it hasn't!

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    Shame about Sharp

    I used to work for their third party repair company back in the 90's.

    They were the first to market with passive colour LCD portable and then active matrix (TFT) displays in their portable computers. These things were enormous and had a handle, required mains to run and a very strong arm to carry.

    I witnessed first hand Sharp's then view on customer care - they (the customer) always came first. Warranties were honoured a full three months after they'd officially ended and if you complained you would always be treated respecfully and would usually have your complaint positively acted on.

    I would be genuinely sorry to see them go.

    1. whitespacephil

      Re: Shame about Sharp

      Hear hear.

      I had the delight of dealing with Sharp's repair team on numerous occasions to service their Widenote and Moebius notebooks, around the turn of the century.

      Truly a delight to deal with, happy to share their knowledge so we could do some repairs on site, and always willing to provide proper software (driver) and hardware support.

      I loved you, Sharp..!

  3. Dilbert1969

    "Will 2103 prove just as momentous? Stay tuned… ®" - I suspect I won't be here.

    1. mark1978

      You never know, that might be why it's momentous.

    2. Timbo

      El Reg is nearly as bad with typo's as The Grauniad

      1. HipposRule
        Thumb Down


        "with typo's" Not a possessive methinks.

  4. Pete 2

    For the average Brit? Not so much

    As far as home-ents hype goes, yup lots of talk. However in terms of actual stuff that ordinary people have and use: very little changed.

    Probably the biggest event of the year was the turning-off of analog TV, although that was more of a ceremony than a world-shattering paradigm change.

    As for 2013? I fully expect nothing much. Radio will go on as before. The internet will have slightly less SPAM and slightly more advertisements. TV will continue on its downward spiral of more repeats and fewer worthwhile programmes (although it's a racing certainty that reality TV will increase, like an annoying rash). There will be a few good films amongst the dross and possibly the same can be said for gaming, too.

    I might buy a tablet.

    1. Ru

      Re: For the average Brit? Not so much

      "slightly less SPAM and slightly more advertisements"

      I put it to you that targetted advertising which generates a fairly small pool of adverts to show you based on recent activity is largely indistinguishable from spam, inasmuch as it can show you the same advert over and over again across multiple pages and multiple sites.

      The fact that someone paid for it to be there doesn't make it any less spammy.

      Lets hear it for adblock, eh?

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: For the average Brit? Not so much

      > I might buy a tablet.

      I want to buy a YouView(HD)/PVR/DVD-RW/BD-RW/WiFi/DNLA combo box, but can't tick the YouView box on that list yet.

      1. Pete 2

        Re: For the average Brit? Not so much

        > I want to buy a YouView(HD)/PVR/DVD-RW/BD-RW/WiFi/DNLA combo box, but can't tick the YouView box on that list yet.

        Wot? not even a freshly hacked Dream <ahem> Openbox or Humax?

  5. auburnman

    I upvoted because I reckon your prediction is spot on, although I was tempted to give you a red mark for depressing the shit out of me.

    I think the next big thing for TV will be when the Youview box or one of it's competitors gains a proven track record of useability and the price becomes comparable to the up-front for a Sky box.

    I'm glad the analog signal is finally off as hopefully this means I will never again have to repeatedly explain to my mum that she already has digital TV and it won't affect her.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This trend has fuelled an IPTV gold rush, which has seen BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Lovefilm Instant and numerous other cloud-based services pouring into devices."

    Where they are universally crap.

    1. groovyf


      Personally, I find Netflix on the Apple TV works like a charm. I've yet to see Netflix/Lovefilm, et all on a Smart TV though.

  7. Lusty

    No mention of Ultraviolet in the smart services list, yet it could actually spell the end of physical media (and proves Sony will never have a successful media format). I bought my first hi def movie this week and still don't have a bluray player.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      Is not applicable to UV. Rented, more like. Read the small print and pray to their benevolent (you hope) god of DRM.

    2. King Jack


      I believe Sony owned the 3.5" floppy drive that was on every PC, I could be wrong though.

      1. Lusty

        @King Jack Re:

        Well I'll be darned, Sony did have one success, thanks KJ

    3. NotSmartEnough


      What? Blu-ray hasn't been successful? Quick, let's buy HD-DVD players!

      Or stream badly compromised 'HD' off the internet. Now which shall I listen to? DTS-HD MA, or a fucking transistor radio?

      Get a grip.

      1. Lusty

        @NotSmartEnough Re:

        Well, it's been mildly more successful than minidisk was before MP3 destroyed the market, but it's not even close to DVD success level, and what it has achieved has largely been down to the installed base of players in PS3 rather than people choosing to replace DVD players. The HD I've streamed or downloaded from the web has been just fine by the way, it's a myth that the encoding or quality is different to that on disks.

        1. NotSmartEnough

          Re: @Lusty

          I would say that blu-ray has been a lot more successful than mini-disk: all major movie releases come out on BD, mini-disk didn't get close to that level of adoption.

          I've had varying results with streamed and downloaded content, video can be good, but in terms of audio I haven't heard anything which comes close to the lossless audio from a BD. Some downloadable stuff has got a DD 5.1 soundtrack, but that's the best you're going to get.

  8. PaulyV

    Satellite Questions

    This may be a daft question but it is one I have always wondered and this seems a good opportunity to ask.

    As satellite TV upgrades in the home from regular, to HD, to Ultra HD it seems the providers are able to use the same Astra satellites to deliver this - is that the case and if so why do the satellites not need to be upgraded to handle so much more information?

    1. Joseph Lord

      Re: Satellite Questions

      1) The transponders on the satellites just need to repeat what is sent to them. According to this Wiki article: they are basically just analogue repeaters amplifying the data transmitted to them. If so (can't remember whether it is or isn't) they don't need to be different to handle DVB-S2 vs DVB-S but even if they did do error-correction before retransmission they wouldn't need to know about video encoding or format.

      2) Compression is getting better so it isn't as much more compressed data as you might think.

      3) Each mux has multiple channels on it, they could always dedicate more to a single channel and remove some of the others. DVB-S2 muxes can carry 80Mbps depending on the configuration (robustness etc.)

  9. Richard Barnes
    Thumb Up

    A small upgrade but significant

    For me, the biggest change in 2012 was that the Sky+ box can now record programmes directly off BBC iplayer (& its equivalents on ITV, C5 and Sky). No more faffing around having to convert video files - hurrah!

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Epic year for me

    It was the year I tossed my Xbox in the trash and stopped my cable TV subscription. I got tired of over 30% ads in the very few things I actually wanted to watch. I got tired of everything either being a tired sequel retread or a crappy ripoff of another country's original idea (I'm looking at YOU, American "Top Gear"). I got tired of Speed channel cutting my bike races for NASCAR. I also saw no movies at the local theatres.

    Now I download my entertainment from various places on the net.

  11. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    Millions of pixels of display power and nothing to watch on them.

  12. DF118

    If there's been a defining trait this year, it's "smart" connectivity

    Too bloody right. Just invested in a new AV setup and I've had to buy a frigging 8-port switch for the living room to get it all connected with a port or two to spare. Plus the telly and receiver have started talking to each other behind my back. RoTM in 3...2...1...

  13. Thorfkin

    "Smart" Televisions

    I must admit, I simply do not understand how "Smart TV" could possibly be "The next big thing". It just seems to be to be an utterly pointless offering. All TVs sold today have HDMI input and it's literally second nature to just hook up a basic Home Theater PC that can easily deliver everything a "Smart TV" can deliver and a million things it can never hope to deliver. Why would anyone think that Smart TV was anything other than garbage with a pretty package wrapped around it? At least the 3D revolution had something tangible to offer. If you want a decent entertainment experience, get a decent 3D TV and hook up a decent gaming ready HTPC. Don't waste any effort, or especially money, on Smart TVs with features that even the cheapest HTPC can easily outclass.

    1. DF118
      Thumb Down

      Re: "Smart" Televisions

      See, for non-geeks that's simply not the case. They don't even know what HTPC means, let alone have the ability to set one up properly; and these people make up the vast majority of the TV market. To you and me, and perhaps a fair whack of the rest of the Reg commentardry, an HTPC is an easy thing to sort out. To everyone else, it's an unneccessary hassle.

      Even for people who can quite easily sort out an HTPC for themselves, a "smart" TV can be a decent, no hassle investment - especially if you're not into PC gaming.

      And the 3D "revolution" - revolution? really?! - you can keep it. As far as tangibles go, a smart TV is way ahead of 3D imho.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still no change

    20 gazillion channels of crap progams

  15. Arctic fox

    How big?

    I am not at all sure that the prices in the over sixty inches category are going to drop as fast and to as low a level (per unit area of display) as we have seen hitherto in the TV market. The constraint IMO is getting a telly like that into the average family living room. The percentage of the population that have the room for an eighty inch telly has to be a lot less than that we would consider as mass market. Whatever "the next new thing" may be in TVs, my crystal ball says that it will sell best in the fifty to sixty inch section of the market. Displays as big as are being referred in this article are not going to be bought by world+wife+dog regardless of how high the display resolution is.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next year, however...

    We'll find out what's here to stay and what's not.

    3D TV has apparently been consigned to the annals of history, and rightfully so. It was just a gimmick.

    Blue Ray ? Is anyone buying the discs ? I was at an electronics megastore last week and found recent blockbuster releases like the last Batman movie in the bargain bin. I purchased a BR Drive for one of my HTPC's for 50 quid. There can't be any money left in it for the big players that invested heavily in it, especially during the HD-DVD war years. I imagine all the money Sony et all poured in it to win the standards war is just a write off.

    4K ? Possibly only for direct satellite reception and places with the newest generation broadband internet connections. But for the masses I don't think it will happen in the next 10 years. TV sets yes, but actual TV show production in 4K ? Don't think so. look at how long it took for 720K to become prevalent. Must be around 15 years.

  17. Jedit

    Silly big TVs

    The article forgot to mention Panasonic's 4k2k plasma TV, the TH-152UX1W. As those familiar with Panasonic's naming structure will know, it's a 152-inch screen with all the bells and whistles. For those of you who have walls that can accommodate a TV which is 13 feet along the diagonal, it's a snip at a mere £600,000.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silly big TVs

      and I'm guessing that by the time the prices on these behemoths come down to a range that ordinary people can afford other technologies will have become viable and considerably cheaper.

  18. Jim 59


    OLED TVs - yes please

    DAB - no thanks, it's a bit guff

    Tablets - in the toy department please

    Smart/IPTV - no thanks, it's a bit guff

    reality/"jeopardy" TV - no thanks it's a bit guff

    soaps - no thanks it's a bit guff

    falsified telly setups - no thanks its a bit guff

    Can I just have a decent Saturday night line up, eg. The Generation Game, Starsky and Hutch, premiership football then Parkinson. Hang on that was BBC1 in 1974.

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