While obviously no-one will have attempted to use a piece of wet twine to connect their TV to the Internet, we thought it was worth seeing what were the most popular methods for connecting, and perhaps highlighting some of the pro’s and con’s.
In one of our regular polls we asked people whether they had a smart TV or set top box that could be connected to the Internet, and we got over 1,600 responses. As a website dedicated to broadband in the UK, while we would expect to see a higher proportion of people connecting their box, the results were surprising, and may actually show what the future will be all about, which is not just having a nice shiny 50″ gadget in the corner of the room, but homes where everything is interconnected.
The answers to the second question are a little confusing, as the suggestion is that among thinkbroadband.com visitors the vast majority with an Internet enabled TV device actually have it connected up. Where the confusion arises is that the control question of not having a device at all appears to have been answered differently, we believe they may have split themselves between the No and Don’t have Device responses.
The main thrust of the poll was to see what sort of devices people were using to connect set-top boxes, and whether we should maybe focus on reviewing more of this ancillary hardware to help those who don’t have a connected box connect their device. Given that almost every smart TV and set top box has an Ethernet socket it is perhaps no surprise to see 44% using this method of connectivity, particularly as a direct cable connection generally provides the best type of connection to your home gateway (broadband router).
The split between the technologies is interesting, in theory wireless connectivity should be the simplest method, but we suspect that for many of our visitors the TV stack comprises of a set top box and a games console both of which benefit from Internet connectivity, and the location of the TV in the corner of a room with the wireless devices buried in a pile of wiring many will have tried wireless and learnt how variable its performance can be.
The high showing from HomePlug devices is perhaps a sign of the fact that BT Vision gave them away and they remain a popular method with TalkTalk and BT for connecting YouView boxes. They are very much a close second in comparison to Ethernet, and are one of the few broadband devices that are truly plug and play – entering long complex wireless encryption keys via a TV remote control is not a past time we would recommend.
We only recently reviewed the EchoBox devices, so to see even 2% connecting via this technology is a surprise, the MoCA standard is more common in Europe and US, where some IPTV firms actually supply the devices to connect boxes, it is particularly in homes when connecting a TV in another room where you previously had an TV coax lead.
One aspect we are seeing grow on our forums, is people buying wireless hardware that operates in the 5GHz band, as many are finding congestion in the usual 2.4GHz band is impacting on services like streaming at peak time. Certainly if you are streaming contention over an 802.11b/g/n network before you launch into a tirade about why broadband in the UK is so bad, it is worth checking that the problem is not something local to you. While the 5GHz wireless networks don’t suffer from interference we still find that throughput over a period of time e.g. 30 seconds or more is much more variable than Ethernet, HomePlugs or the echoBox units.
We doff our hats to the 0.85% who claim to be using a mobile dongle to connect their TV or set top box
If people have suggestions for broadband hardware that they would like reviewed then do suggest them in our comment, our http://www.thinkbroadband.com/hardware/reviews.html generally a go a lot further than the usual review, which is a reflection of the fact we actually use the hardware, rather than just providing an unbox and plug in review.