Kiwis slow on gadgets' web capabilities

MORE THAN A TV: Kiwi smart TV owners have been slow to connect their TVs to the internet.
MORE THAN A TV: Kiwi smart TV owners have been slow to connect their TVs to the internet.

The average Kiwi household has three internet-connected devices - and perhaps even more after yesterday - but many other web-capable gadgets in homes are not online, new research suggests.

A Colmar Brunton survey, commissioned by wholesale broadband provider Chorus, found laptops, desk-top computers and smartphones were the web-connected gadgets with the highest penetration, appearing in 82 per cent, 63 per cent and 60 per cent of Kiwi homes respectively.

Those gadgets had a high level of internet connectedness - at least 92 per cent.

But other smart devices are not being connected.

Almost 40 per cent of New Zealand households have a smart or web-capable TV, so viewers can browse the web, stream programmes and movies and use applications such as Skype, but half of them are not hooked up to the internet.

Similarly, 61 per cent of Blu-ray players, 57 per cent of security systems, 42 per cent of TV hard-drives and 41 per cent of hand-held gaming consoles are not used online.

When asked why their devices were not online, 37 per cent of respondents said it was not necessary for them to be, 8 per cent said they did not know how to connect them, 8 per cent said they did not have the capability to connect them and 8 per cent said they did not want to use the devices online.

Chorus spokesman Gerard Linstrom said many consumers were not aware their devices could be connected to the web or of the benefits of doing so.

People thought Blu-ray players were just for playing high-definition disks, "but increasingly, a lot of Blu-ray disks come with interactive content. There are additional features and programming available".

"There's a lot of untapped content that people have already got access to - they've already paid for it."

Web-connected home security systems could be managed and monitored remotely, for example, through a smartphone, while TV hard-drives could also be controlled remotely.

Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said awareness was an issue but a lack of content was a big reason people with smart TVs weren't connected - himself included.

Movie and streaming service Quickflix had only just become available for TVs through Freeview.

"But Quickflix has a fairly limited library, they'd be the first to admit that. Sky doesn't do anything other than replay its broadcasts and with TVNZ and TV3 [online] it's just replay TV. There's really a limited amount of legal digital video content beyond user-generated content."

He was surprised by how many households had connected their TVs.

"The rest of us will join in once there's a service to connect to."

Linstrom said there were usually multiple options for hooking devices up online, and the type of internet connection could make a difference.

Homes on the internet delivered over fibre could run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications without them interfering with each other.

"Mum and Dad can sit in the living room and watch a movie or a sports programme while somebody sitting in another room plays an interactive game, and somebody else listens to online music."

He recommended owners of web-capable devices consult the often-ignored instruction manual to get connected, or they could call in the professionals.

"A lot of the retailers have got their own geeks who will come in and install your PC or your TV or your home theatre so that it will actually work the way it's intended to."

Teenagers, particularly gamers, were often pretty clued up at connecting devices to the internet, Linstrom said.

"So one of the other options is ask your teenager." Fairfax NZ

The Dominion Post