Lean-back vs Lean-forward Television

old-fashoned-tvTo understand the future of TV, you only need to contrast it with the web. Nielsen Norman Group wrote an excellent article several years ago that is just as relevant today as ever. It outlines the differences between Television versus the Internet.

Aside from a comprehensive comparison chart, the article points out the following:

“Indeed, people basically don’t use any of TV’s advanced features precisely because they’re so cumbersome. As a result, the received user experience is pretty simple: turn it on, sit back, and enjoy the show.

The Web has powerful features, is nonlinear, and is user-driven — able to  instantly gratifying  users’ current needs based on their search engine queries.  Mobile Web use lives even more in the current moment.

Compared to TV, the Web also has a much finer  granularity of user control: When watching  TV, you make one decision every  30–120 minutes: pick a show or movie to watch, and then it’s lean-back time.  Ah, easy. When surfing the  Web, you make a decision every  10–120 seconds: leave or stay on this page; leave or stay on this site. Where to click now? Where to click next?  Stressful.”

It is obvious the lines between television and the internet are blurring. But in the fou years since this NNG article was written, Televisions have become even more complex, and more lean-forward. In a way, televisions have devolved from their original intention of simplicity and lean-back relaxation.

Bhaalu from Right Brain Interface restores the original lean-back experience television was intended to be, by allowing the user to time-shift programs for non-linear viewing, and offering a simplified user interface for fast and efficient browsing of channel content.


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