LOS ANGELES—Jake Benner, national account manager hospitality for LG Electronics USA, provided a workshop on The Future of Television at the recent Choice Hotels conference in Los Angeles.
These days, brand standards generally require a 32-inch minimum new, hospitality grade, LED television with HD encryption. LG is generally recommending Pro:Idiom.
The “Pro:Idiom” digital technology platform was developed to provide hospitality and health care markets with a robust, highly secure Digital Rights Management (DRM) system. DRM ensures rapid, road deployment of high-definition television (HDTV) and other high-value digital content to hotels and health care facilities.
Benner noted that a lot of hoteliers are confused regarding the differences between commercial and consumer-grade televisions, and wonder why they can’t just go an buy a TV for the hotel at Walmart. There are many differences, said Benner. (See Top 12 differences at right.)
One of the big differences is the installer menu, which means that only the general manager/owner has access. Each one comes with a master remote, which enables that person to set the televisions to start on a certain channel, set maximum volume settings, and have a volume setting for start-up.
The key lock feature is important, so that guest access can be restricted.
Commercial televisions also have power saving modes. If the televisions are set at different brightness levels, power savings are substantial. Too-bright television levels are overkill—and waste power.
Commercial televisions enable the hotelier to set different program lineups.
And the clonability feature is a real time-saver. The hotelier can use a USB to download settings to all the TVs in the hotel at the click of a button. The televisions can even be cloned from a central location thanks to a remote management feature.
Commercial televisions are pay-per-view compatible.
The television stands provided are a safety feature to prevent theft. They are metal reinforced from the bottom with a full steel plate, and the neck is steel-reinforced. There is also a bolt to attach it to the desk.
And finally, warranties on commercial televisions are generally for two to three years versus one year for consumer televisions.
Benefits of Pro:Idiom
Pro:Idiom provides a way to prevent guests from pirating HDTV channels. If hoteliers don’t have Pro:Idiom, they are stuck when they want to upgrade to HDTV pay-per-view movies.
Pro:Idiom works with a basic broadcast cable with an analog cable feed, which takes HDTV all the way to the room. There’s a premium cable/satellite cable or satellite transcoder. This allows for videos on demand at the digital high end.
Home televisions are already encrypted at the cable box level, but hotels don’t want to have cable boxes in each room. That’s one of the reasons Pro:Idiom is so popular.
To LED from LCD
Benner noted that television screens are transitioning to LED, and the LCD lineup is being phased out. LED is thinner, the televisions use 30 per cent less energy, and they have better picture quality. The 30 per cent energy savings can work out to about $16 per television per year—or $1,600 per year for a 100-room property.
Types of screens available include thin edge, ultra-thin edge, LCD and backlit LED. While five-star brands are definitely looking at the ultra-thin televisions, backlit LED is a bit thicker, but much cheaper, Benner said.
What is Pro:Centric?
Pro:Centric technology is embedded in the TV, and allows the hotel owner to totally customize their offerings to the guest. It is compatible with many televisions up to three years old. There’s a server and an electronic program guide. It’s a platform that is evolving, and allows the hotelier to download apps such as AccuWeather.
What is a Smart TV?
Benner explained that a Smart TV is one that can be connected to the Internet using an RJ45 or wireless connection. New TVs can run Twitter, Facebook and AccuWeather. Smart TVs can also connect to mobile phones and laptops.
One challenge of Smart TVs is that consumer Smart TV technology ships with 25 pre-loaded apps, and those apps often update themselves. This occurs on the commercial TVs as well, which is an inconvenience for the guest. That’s why commercial Smart TVs purposely limit the number of apps to four, and are programmed to update when the TV is powered off.
When a Smart TV tries to pair a guest’s phone with the TV in their room—it may also unintentionally produce a message on the TV in the neighbouring room. Privacy can become an issue.
“At the end of this year, Smart TV apps will probably start to take off,” said Benner.