A prediction: The next big tech thing, which will show up in a Best Buy near you sometime within the next 12 months or so, will be a big, flatscreen television that comes in the same box with a tablet computer.
These two devices will be pre-synced, so when you plop down on the couch with the tablet to check your Facebook newsfeed and you come across a link from your friend to the new Lady Gaga video or whatever, a flick of your finger across the tablet in your lap will send the video to the TV on your wall.
Later, while you’re using the TV to watch a presidential speech, or “Glee,” or a presidential speech to the cast of “Glee,” swiping your finger across the tablet will launch your Twitter feed, so you can read what your friends are snarking about the show in realtime.
I have no insider information to back up this prediction; it’s all speculation — but it’s all based on existing technology. Some TVs already ship with built-in Internet capabilities, while the iPad and other tablet devices already put video, and the rest of the Internet, right in your lap.
But neither of those existing devices really replaces the other. I can’t imagine ever wanting to read a Facebook feed — or a long Crunchable story, or much of anything else, for that matter — on a TV that’s yards away from my face. On the other hand, when it comes time to watch TV shows on Hulu.com, nobody really wants to grab the popcorn and head to the home office; for that matter, bringing a laptop to bed or the couch isn’t a whole lot more appealing, and some critics say that even the iPad isn’t an ideal device for watching a movie.
So it’s only a matter of time before some enterprising engineer dreams up an idea for bringing together both devices in a way that plays to the strengths of each: A tablet computer for reading and a little writing, with a big, backup screen on the wall for comfortably watching long videos; or, to think of it in reverse, a nice-sized TV that has a tablet computer as its remote control.
Actually, I bet somebody right now could set up something like this in his or her home, using existing devices already on the market. But the big breakthrough will be when somebody pre-syncs these devices and packages them up in the same box, so even the technophobes among us could use and enjoy them together.
It’s such a straightforward idea that I’d be surprised if somebody’s R&D department isn’t already working on the idea — or maybe somebody’s already selling this. (If you know of some company that is, please let us know with a comment on this story!) But every time I mention this brainstorm to people I know, their eyes light up in a way that says: I’d never imagined something like that, but I want it.
So, there you go. You’re welcome, Apple — or HP, or whoever seizes on this idea and uses it to make a boatload of money. As compensation for using my idea, I’ll gladly accept a six-figure check made out to Michael Duck; just e-mail me for my contact information.