Why the Dual-Screen TV Experience Does Nothing For Me

Dec 21, 2012
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With the launch of Nintendo’s TVii service for the Wii U, the idea of dual-screen entertainment in the living room is coming center stage. Wii U owners will need to decide if the concept of viewing not one, but two, screens to enjoy entertainment in the living room is really for them.

I can see reasonably appealing implementations of dual-screen experiences. For instance, if I’m watching a football game, it would be great to turn over to my GamePad to see what the score is on another game or see the stats for the one I’m watching. And as Nintendo has pointed out, its GamePad can deliver cast details when watching a movie – another possibly valuable implementation.

But the more I think about the idea of having two screens in my entertainment experience, the more I’m turned off. When I’m watching television, it’s an opportunity for me to relax and get away from the annoying parts of my day. The last thing I want to do is switch between a small display and a big screen for the benefit of having a marginally better entertainment experience.

[aquote]I have an iPhone and an iPad sitting next to my chair if I want to know an actor's name[/aquote]

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when I’m watching a television show that I’ll want to see what an actor’s real name is or find out something about the show. But I have an iPhone and an iPad sitting right next to my chair if I really want to know. And in the vast majority of cases, I lose interest in the amount of time it takes to turn my iPhone on and check something out.

In an odd way, I think the dual-screen experience is designed for me – a so-called “tech power user” that wants to get his hands on the latest and greatest products companies have to offer. But for some reason, the idea of switching between displays while watching a television show or movie just doesn’t appeal to me.

Nintendo, of course, will argue that I need to play with TVii for a while before I can make that judgment. The company will claim that its dual-screen implementation is better than anything I’ve tried yet, and it goes a long way in ensuring that people are more productive while they’re sitting on their couches just trying to watch a show or two that they enjoy.

I’m not here to say that the TVii experience will be bad. In fact, there’s a good chance that it might actually be a really neat feature for Wii U users. Still, it’s just not for me. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of sitting back and doing nothing when I’m in my living room. And it might sound lazy of me, but having to tap around on a GamePad while watching a show just doesn’t seem worth it.

Now that I’ve said all that, let me say one more thing about TVii: its integration with Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, as well as its ability to provide a single place for users to find programming is a great idea. It’s when the show starts that I lose interest in the dual-screen experience.


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