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In another thread [webmasterworld.com] thepunter brought up the issue of the WebTV browser.
WebTV offers a simulator for their browser on their site [developer.webtv.net]. There is also an easy to use online viewer at AnyBrowser.com [anybrowser.com], but it's version 1.1 of the WebTV browser, which is now up to version 2.5.
The main restriction on the WebTV browser is the screen width (550 pixels). WebTV has an algorithm that squeezes everything down to that width, no matter how you code your HTML. One big technical difference between a TV picture and a monitor is that a TV is interlaced -- only half the lines of a screen are displayed on each pass, and they alternate.
Here's 3 basic rules I follow when WebTV matters to a client.
1. Small fonts are not going to work. The WebTV browser will automatically fatten up your <font> tags, but beware of any text in graphics. Make all the letter forms substantial or they won't be legible on a TV screen.
2. Avoid all-white backgrounds -- they make a lot of TVs freak out. You'll notice that the WebTV website has sort of a light tan background.
3. Avoid intense colors like bright red -- looks like chocolate pudding, at best.
If you get into fancy stuff -- multi media and all that -- then you need to study the developer's materials that WebTV provides.
Does anyone here get significant WebTV traffic? I have two clients who felt their products warranted it, and they paid extra to develop a WebTV compatible site -- but the traffic/sales just aren't there for them.
I suspect the site owners may have a good hunch about WebTV, but I haven't been able to get it to pay off so far. If anyone has any hints about getting WebTV business, I'd love to hear them.
My biggest suspicion is that no one wants to give a credit card number to a TV set. Doesn't seem prudent.
So it's not exactly a gold rush. Furthermore, it looks like you need to directly target the WebTV user by advertising through WebTV itself.
Microsoft, the owner, is looking to push interactive TV programming through a partnership with CBS for the next year. I think they know that WebTV will not even rival the Mac in the online world, so they have a new gameplan.
It's been sneaking up on me, too. I thought it would be gone by now, and instead referals are up, although still very anaemic.
Last week I got some email from a new contact who has a WebTV email address. In the past year I've had 2 other clients who had WebTV addresses until well after their sites were launched -- then they KNEW they had to buy a PC.
Funny thing, one of those clients who didn't own a PC was a domain name speculator! He would hire me to create content to help him sell various domains. All the time he was only online through WebTV.
It does get me thinking about an under-noticed market. Microsoft owns WebTV. They're collaborating with CBS. They're worth at least keeping them on the radar, IMO.