This is our first Consumer Reports-eque post, providing insight on whether to buy a TV dongle to Internet-ify your TV.

First, let’s get to the serious stuff — what’s dongle? Funny word. Bonus points for anyone who can drop some etymology knowledge about dongle. Alright, back to the post.

So, there seems to be a new PR every day about the latest company that has ported Android 4.0 onto a thumbdrive so you can turn your non-Internet TV into an Internet connected TV.

Cool, huh? 

After the early adopter, geek-love feelings wear off though, I’m unsure of the advantages of TV dongles, like the Pocket TV pictured above, or the Equiso Smart TV. Why would you buy one, over, say, a Roku or Vizio Co-Star (uh, what’s up with the mesmerizing name?). Don’t get me wrong, as part of the adRise team, I’d love to see these devices succeed since we distribute video content to Google TV’s Spotlight apps.

The devices are about the same price but the Roku has a ton of apps and a great UI.  The Vizio, if you want Android and Google TV, has the same thing as a Pocket TV but more. Also, the set top boxes will have native apps that will work; I actually doubt most of the Android apps will work well on the TV screen since the developers didn’t build them with the TV in mind. 

The only advantage that a TV dongle has is that it’s transportable so you can watch Internet TV on your TV and monitor (at work, plugged into your monitor?). That’s a small advantage but if you had a choice of buying one or the other, I’d pick the more robust and powerful set top box like a Roku or Co-Star.  Now, if you have the luxury of buying all of them, then sure, a Pocket TV or similar dongle would be sort of cool. And it may even give you some street cred, at least in San Francisco. Love from the ladies – very unlikely; sorry brothers in arms. 

At the end of the day, the video content will dictate the success and failure of an Internet TV platform like Google TV, Vizio or Roku. Porting over a bunch of Android mobile apps for the TV via Android 4.0 isn’t really a great way to do that since there’s very little premium video content in those mobile Android apps. Until that happens, I’d stick with the set top boxes.  

I really hope I’m wrong about Android not being a good tool to showcase premium video content. That’ll mean adRise can generate more business from the Android platform. Unfortunately, at least now, I’m right. <sigh> 

Categories: Tubi News

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