A Year Over the Top, Part 2

7/30/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Last week, we examined some
of the notable consumer trends
coming out of my makeshift
over-the-top (OTT) video lab.
This week, and as promised, a bit
more — starting with the remotecontrol
clutter multiplier.

The window ledge in the lab
is already piled with more than
a dozen hard-plastic remotes.
We’re all wearily familiar with
the desire for fewer remotes, but with over-the-top TV,
there’s a multiplier: Software-based remotes.

Nearly every gadget in the lab comes with a software
version of its guide. Which means alongside the “hard
clutter” of the remotes on the ledge is a lot of “soft clutter”
of remotes on the iPad, Android and iPhone screens.
(Somebody please tell me how to folder all of these remotes!)

Broadband usage in the lab: We all saw the kerfuffle, right before the Cable Show in May, about Netflix
not liking Comcast’s foray into the Xbox. That’s the one
where Xbox users can view subscription video via the
Xfinity app, and the bits consumed don’t count against
their broadband bit cap, which was upped to 300 Gigabytes
per month.

Here at the lab, it’s a little hard to fathom using 300
Gigs. (I realize I will eat my hat for this someday.) Comcast’s
online account tools show that we used 10 GB in
April, 16 GB in May, and 9 GB in June. Granted, the lab
only goes over the top on OTT video activities one day
a week, when my trusty assistant, Sara, comes in to put
the 15-plus boxes through their paces.

So last week, we turned everything on and kept it
on. At press time, the meter had jumped from 10 GB to
22 GB — 8% of the cap — even though the Roku timed
out sometime over the weekend. Extrapolating that, we’d
spend maybe 60 GB a month if everything streamed constantly.

Lastly: Finding signal for everything is “nontrivial,”
as my engineering friends would say. Granted,
most people don’t fiddle around with a dozen gadgets,
all for the purpose of consuming television.
As this column has noted before, though, the more
IP-connectable stuff you get, the more you’ll start
thinking about signal.

In the case of the lab, this meant not just installing a
second cable modem (IPv6!), but also an HDMI switch,
to move around between the different devices. It’s not extraordinarily
difficult, but it does involve a lot of futzing.
Can someone hand me the remote?

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