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The Future of Television

In association with BT

The science fiction blockbuster Avatar is fast becoming one of the most successful movies ever made. And that in part is due to its mind-bending special effects, shown in stunning 3-D. And because it's 3-D, more people are going to see it at the cinema - you simply can't have that experience at home.

Well not yet, at least. At least one television manufacturer, Panasonic, is experimenting with 3-D television and says that so far trials have gone well. But at the very least, such technology is some years away and is likely to start off prohibitively expensive. Even so, the services available now have considerably advanced from just a decade ago.


For a start, most people no longer just watch programmes on their television. The popularity of Youtube, and on demand services such as the BBC's iPlayer and 4OD from Channel 4, means that a computer connected to a fast broadband connection can quickly stream or download programmes to watch when you want to. If you're unsure about whether your connection is fast enough, you can do a broadband speed test to see what's available in your area.

You can also hook your computer up to your television. This will allow you to watch the likes of Youtube on the big(ger) screen and in potentially higher definition. If you're a gamer, PC games on a television screen rather than a computer monitor could give you a greater experience.

Then there's content on demand. No longer do you have to wait for your favourite programmes or films to be broadcast; simply press a couple of buttons and there it is. There are thousands of hours of content available through the various on-demand providers - from the latest movies to complete series of the most popular shows.

The Future

It's already here, but web-enabled television is not yet that common. Some televisions now have ethernet ports, which allow you to connect to a broadband service. At the moment, there's not a lot available specifically for television - effectively it looks like an advanced version of teletext - but many major manufacturers and content providers are gearing up to increase the availability of online programming specifically to be watched on digital tv.

As the major broadband providers invest billions into increasing the connection speeds of UK homes, the traditional linear broadcasting model of today could change almost completely into an on-demand service. Only programming that has an immediate importance, such as news and sport, would be broadcast in the current manner; almost everything else would be available at a time suitable for you.

Your DVDs and CDs are soon to become extinct, but not necessarily in favour of hard drive recording. Instead the content you 'own' will be stored remotely, in a 'cloud' - a repository for the data of millions of people that you can access simply by logging on. It's safer, because you won't be in danger of a computer meltdown losing all your valuable content; and it's cheaper, because you won't need to invest in the increasingly large amounts of storage you'll need.

And what will you be watching all your programming on? Well, 3-D is in the works, as is a form of holographic television. A Danish inventor, Peter Simonsen has built a prototype holographic television and those in the know say they could be available commercially within a decade. And if you thought high definition was the be-all and end-all of picture quality, think again: Broadcasters in Japan, the UK and Italy have come up with Super Hi Vision, which is nearly 17 times better resolution than we currently have. You won't believe your eyes!

BT Vision

BT Vision is the clever way to watch TV, a virtual library of the latest blockbusters, series box sets straight to your TV, kids' TV without the ads and much more. With the Vision+ box you can also pause, rewind and record up to 80 hours of live Freeview TV.