5 Ways the iPad Will Reshape Consumer Electronics 
Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles
Written by Mike Flacy   
Thursday, 08 April 2010

We have been playing with iPads in our offices nonstop for the past few days.  It’s really a captivating device, specifically for media consumption.  Every time I walk around to take a look at the nearby iPads, I see great apps like Netflix instant streaming, Pandora and iBooks running.  If you read our 30 iPhone / iPod Touch Apps for Your Home Theater article, you would see that much of the consumer electronics industry is already jumping into the mobile touchscreen market for everything from system control to audio / video calibration.

For those unfamiliar, the iPad is a touchscreen tablet released by Apple a few days ago.  It sports a brilliant 9.7” LED-backlit screen at 1024 by 768 resolution and comes in three capacity sizes (16GB, 32GB, 64GB).  If you have used an iPad Touch or an iPhone, you will be right at home with the interface.  It’s laid out identically and utilizes the same App store to download new applications to the iPad.  But very different from the iPod Touch / iPhone, the developers of these apps have almost 3 times the size of the screen to take advantage of.  Here’s a few areas that we believe app developers will change the consumer electronics landscape:

Remote Control:

If there was any device perfect for system control, this is it.  Universal remote manufacturers, take note; this is the direction that you should headed.   Do I want to turn on my entire home theater system with the tap of a button on my iPad?  Yes!  Do I want to adjust the equalizer and separate speaker volume output on my iPad?  Yes!  Do I want to navigate all the on-screen menus with my iPad?  Yes!

Redy Eye Remote

Logitech should jump into this market full force with the Harmony platform.  The same goes for the high end controller companies like Crestron.  The large, high resolution screen is the perfect size for remote functions and the form factor of the iPad is made for sitting around your dedicated home theater.  There's already several universal remote apps on the iPhone app store, but they will need to be updated to take advantage of the iPad landscape. 

Device Integration:

What if that new Samsung Television you purchased allowed you to utilize all the apps that comes with their new line of televisions on your iPad, but without disturbing what’s happening on the screen?  What if your cable / satellite receiver allowed you to peruse the channel guide and offered live video preview of said channels on your iPad, all without overlaying that user interface on the main screen?

What if you could purchase HD movies on iTunes with your iPad and it would stream them into your television screen via your home network?  What if you could use the on screen keyboard on the iPad to search through your cable provider’s upcoming program lineup or perhaps type questions during a BD-Live chat session with James Cameron during a networked screening of Avatar?

Device integration will likely roll out fairly slowly, but companies that are already investing in iPhone app development are likely to release iPad versions as well.  Yamaha, Comcast, Denon, Dish Network, Sonos and Direct TV would be likely candidates to release official apps for their networked devices.

Music Selection:

itunes viewiTunes is already in a dominate position for digital music distribution and the iPad will only solidify that.  In addition, inventive music applications like Shazam (which identifies music by listening to a song playing) or SoundHound (another identifier that tags a song by a person humming it) are just scratching the surface at shaping how we can become introduced to new artists and genres of music.

Similar to the relatively unsuccessful Apple TV, we can see the iPad becoming a hub for selecting music.  For instance, if you are having a party, a guest with an iPhone / iPod Touch will be able to connect via Apple’s popular Remote application and queue up songs to play based on the stored music in your iPad.  This music will stream over your wireless network and play through your Internet connected sound system. 

Home Automation:

Control4 has already rolled out their iPad application and we imagine other companies aren’t far behind.  Beyond home theater system control, the Control4 application allows you to adjust lighting and temperature in the house along with monitoring web cams.  The price tag is extremely attractive as well.  Touch Screen panels for home automation typically run about 3 to 4 times for the iPad size.

Control4 app

You could potentially purchase multiple iPads for the price of 1 panel and mount them all over your home.  The key to making this work would be to remove the ability to walk around with said iPads.  Although, popping open a home automation application on your iPad while at work to turn off lights remotely or check web cams is an awesome feature.  We are really looking forward to seeing what the home automation leaders will be showing off at CEDIA this year.

Video Consumption:

video viewThe beauty of the iPad is that it runs streaming video applications so well.  The Netflix streaming application is lightning fast as well at ABC’s video player.  The direction that seems to be the most interesting is how your DVR will interact with your iPad.  There are already excellent applications like Air Video for the iPhone that streams video files from your home computer, but this seems ideal for a platform like Tivo or Moxi to jump on.

The concept isn’t new.  Slingplayer is already trying to make it popular on the iPhone.  But the iPad is arguably much faster at accessing and buffering up HD video files.  A DVR company (or cable company for that matter) could take a leading position in the iPad market by offering the ability to watch your DVR recorded programming anywhere.   

With today’s announcement of multitasking (among many other improvements) coming in the Fall of 2010, the iPad will rapidly become a wildly popular platform by the end of the year.   We would be shocked if the iPad wasn’t in a minimum of 5 million homes by the end of 2010.  The only question is how fast the consumer electronics industry will adopt the iPad as a platform to expand the functionality of their devices.

Question: What do you want to be able to do with your home theater on an iPad?  

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