A recent video of the Top 5 Gadgets Ahead of it’s Time chose Web TV as the number 1 gadget that came out too early for consumers to know what to do with it. Watching this video I automatically remembered the commercials but even back then I wondered how it would work with a current internet connection speeds of the time.
In the late 90′s and early 2000′s, the common internet connection for a household was the standard 56k modems that either came pre-installed on computers or would be a serial add-on. You never really got the full 56kbps connection speed, you would usually get 30 – 45kbps. This made surfing the web a very big hassle for many people.
History of WebTV
The web back then was void of streaming content other than video files that were compressed using the RealPlayer format, which required your RealPlayer to be installed on your machine. Watching online streamed videos was a type of torture device even for the 90′s standards. Audio would sound like it’s coming through two tin cans attached to a piece of string. Anybody who was online back then already knew having the web on TV was too soon. Unfortunately, Microsoft did not see it that way and purchased the company and started MSN TV (which closed down on September 30th, 2013).
The product ended up becoming a flop since interest was minimal at best and current generation phones of the time (yes, the flip phones) were able to access e-mail and minimal online content already.
Just because this product flopped, does not mean the idea was bad, it just means we weren’t ready for it. Now, almost every household has their own fast streaming connection and with streaming content like YouTube and English Anime, watching online content on your TV is now the best form of entertainment. Similar devices such as AppleTV and the Sony SMP-N200 built in browsers, but the best way to have the web on your TV would be the use of an Android dongle or by connecting a tablet through HDMI. Though iOS and Android have stopped support for Flash Player content, most online videos will still open using your current install media player, as tested with englishanime.com.