Set-top boxes: is simple better?

I blogged a few weeks ago about my positive experience with my new Roku, and it appears that the battle of dedicated Internet connected set-top boxes is starting again.  (Note that gaming consoles such as the XBox360 or PS3 could also be considered competition in this space.)  Specifically, Apple has announced its newly updated AppleTV, D-Link will soon be launching their Boxee device and Logitech will be releasing the Revue based on GoogleTV.  All of these boxes are designed to dominate your living room by providing access to rich Internet content.  However, the strategies used by these vendors vary.  The Revue and Boxee bring a full Internet experience while the Roku and AppleTV focus on a streamlined approach.

The living room has always been a consumer electronics battleground.  An early company targeting the space was WebTV who sold a set-top box that accessed the Internet and provided a web browsing on the TV.  WebTV’s devices were relatively complex and included a dial-up modem (limited broadband back then), a traditional remote control and a wireless keyboard.  The company was not successful and was purchased by Microsoft for very little.  I believe that the device was overly complex for the living room and did not provide a quality Internet experience.  Ironically, Logitech and D-Link appear to be following a similar path. Continue reading Set-top boxes: is simple better?