Rumored Intel TV is real, but comes with some caveats

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Yesterday at All Things D's Dive Into Media conference, Intel corporate VP Erik Huggers spilled the beans on that Intel TV service we talked about early last month.

Unfortunately the news isn't all good.

Basically Intel's plan is to deliver an over-the-net TV service that will offer both live and on-demand TV to a proprietary piece of hardware (that you'll have to purchase). They promise to offer 'catch-up TV' which honestly just sounds like saying on-demand in a different way. If you miss an episode of a show you can go back and watch it later. So far so good.

[I fought the cord, and the cord won and Apple TV emerges from the shadows]

The first problem is that it sounds like the service won't be cheap. Huggers said Intel TV (not the official name; no name has been revealed yet) is "...not about a value play" and that rather than offer a la carte channels, the service will offer bundles of channels. So you can expect to still be paying for channels you don't watch.

The second problem is that the Intel TV box has a camera in it. This camera is intended to deliver personalized content and targeted advertisements by observing who is watching TV, and when. The exact details are still rather vague. I understand how this could offer value; if I sit down it'll see that it's me watching and offer up my favorite shows. But I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like I'm giving up a lot of privacy in exchange for this feature. Do you want Intel to know you ate that whole pint of ice cream while watching Twilight? I didn't think so.

The good news is that the service is supposed to offer a much better user experience than traditional cable providers do. That's a pretty low bar, frankly and any improvement is welcome.

Of course you're still going to be paying for Internet access and you'll want it to be fast; it'll be really interesting to see how much the service actually costs when it rolls out later this year. If I cancel my awful Time Warner Cable TV service and sign up for Intel TV will I be paying more or less? And how much effort will TWC put into making this a terrible experience for me, in order to try to force me back into their service? If Intel TV takes off I anticipate new attempts by the cable companies to impose bandwidth caps that try to limit our access; anything to get us to re-attach the cord.

For more details AllThingsD is a natural place to start. GigaOm also covered the story.

I was hoping that Intel TV would be a disruptive force in the TV industry but as of now that doesn't seem to be the case. It sounds more like the same service we get now, delivered in a different way. But perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised once it launches later this year.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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