Native apps, Web browsing: the family PC, version 2.0
Rival BenQ has found two solutions to the app problem: Design its own apps, and emphasize the Web. BenQ has its own smart monitor, the CT2200, which it hasn't yet sold within the United States, although it's received the necessary FCC certification required to do so. The CT2200 pairs a 22.5-inch, 1920-by-1080 touchscreen with a dual-core ARM Cortex A9, 8GB of flash storage, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, two USB ports, a microSD slot, a 1.2MP webcam, and Android 4.0.4.
Bob Wudeck, associate vice president of strategy and business development at BenQ, says that the company has been forced to rethink the concept of a monitor, whether it be gaming monitors optimized for StarCraft or adding intelligence to the traditional display.
"The traditional model is a display that a desktop or notebook can plug into," Wudeck says. "We don't think that's going to be the case."
"We think that in the future, you'll have more media content on your phone, and you'll share more of that from your phone, than from a desktop computer," Wudeck adds. "And that's something that we can develop a product around."
Feature-wise, the CT2200 looks much like a traditional consumer PC: BenQ allows photos to be sent wirelessly over the network to the onboard storage, or stored in a cloud storage package that BenQ provides. The "Family Board" app shares a calendar, messages and photos, and can display Facebook and Twitter feeds. And the early killer app of a smart monitor is probably the Web, where a browser can be resized to fill the screen, no matter the size of the display.
"If you think about the screen and the way you can communicate with a mobile device, you can turn the monitor into a giant tablet extension," Wudeck says. "And once you start putting a data link into a display, consumers can start asking the next question, which is, "What's a television?"
Todd Fender, a display analyst with NPD DisplaySearch, thinks that smart monitors could fit neatly into the established ecosystem of connected devices, if manufacturers can do a better job of explaining how they're useful to consumers.
"I think it comes down to there is little education in the marketplace regarding what a true smart' monitor is, and what it can do," he explains in an email. "Tablets, smartphone, and notebook manufacturers may be doing a poor job explaining how they can be used with other peripheral devices like a smart monitor. Right now, they are being used separately, but there are advantages to using the products together. For one, smart monitors can provide larger viewing areas and higher resolutions...so streaming Netflix over your smartphone connected to a smart monitor may make a more enjoyable viewing experience."
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