They're big and clever, but televisions just need to have an 'iPhone' moment
A view from Russell Davies

They're big and clever, but televisions just need to have an 'iPhone' moment

I've always thought of myself as a top TV geek, always on the latest trend, a voracious absorber of new channels, programmes and technologies. I realised the other week that the reality is a little different. We'd wandered into our enormous but incompetent friendly neighbourhood electrical goods warehouse, happened across the TVs and discovered how cheap and vast they are these days.

I am clearly very late to this trend. Pausing only to not understand any of the nonsense the salesman was spouting, we grabbed the second-cheapest one we found and headed home to plug it in.

It was, it turns out, a Samsung. And switching it on gave me a double-barrelled hit of déjà vu.

First, it was a bit like plugging in my modem and dialling up to CompuServe (younger readers: CompuServe was a sort of pre-web Facebook, but waaaay slower). It was chock-full of opportunity and promise. Here’s the place where all those content brands can play. They’re on the big screen, they’re under my remote-control thumb. The Berliner Philharmoniker is in the Samsung app store – it’s on my telly in glorious quality and it has never had to negotiate with the owners of any satellites. It’s a sort of early Internet of Things moment – connect things to the internet and they change in ways that don’t seem obvious to start with. We, for instance, are spending evenings listening to whole albums – vinyl albums – via YouTube, on our TV. It’s very restful.

Plugging in the Samsung TV was like powering up a Nokia phone, from when Nokia was in its pomp

But the second barrel of déjà vu was even more exciting. Plugging in the Samsung was like powering up a Nokia phone, from when Nokia was in its pomp. You get a hugely powerful machine with weirdly gimmicky software and a packed list of features you couldn’t imagine anyone ever using. And what followed Nokia in its pomp? The iPhone and Android. I’m hoping that’s what we’ll get on the big tellies in our living rooms. Maybe it’ll come from Apple or Google, maybe from someone else – but if someone can dial up the elegance on these powerful machines, then I’ll be happy to be a TV geek again.

Russell Davies is a creative director at Government Digital Service

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