When did home entertainment get so… epic!?

14 August 2017

It’s Friday night. Gaz has just lost to Laura at motion-sensored boxing. Dev’s sharing holiday snaps with Nick on their tablets. While Kate’s taking it in turns with Emma and Mikey to fight zombies on the VR headset. The night’s being soundtracked by a playlist created just an hour before by a DJ in LA. And you’re all about to settle down to a film that only made it to cinemas that morning, from the comfort of Elena’s frontroom.

Cast your mind back just a few short years, and a night in with pals was very different. We’re talking DVD rentals, rifling through scratched CDs and never-ending boardgames. Now, here at EE, we love a round of Monopoly as much as the next person; but come on, VR gaming is another level of cool!  

And this sea change in entertainment seems to have crept up to our sofas without us stopping to take note – or at least basking in the full glory of the affordable tech that now graces our homes. And this got us thinking: when exactly did home entertainment get so insanely… epic!?  

Well, we took a trip down memory lane to see if we could pinpoint this pivotal moment…

...Epic games
You could argue that video games have been pretty epic for a while now. Let’s face it, not much can compete with Sonic the Hedgehog for pure playability – a game that’s over 25 years old! But ironically, it was only when consoles started introducing more human players did home gaming really step up a level. From 1997, you and three pals could blast the bejeezus out each other on the N64’s GoldenEye 007. Classics like Mario Kart 64 added to the multi-player mayhem – but while the graphics gradually improved, it was long after the chunky cartridges had become obsolete that home video games saw their next revolution: online gaming.

While early online gaming was hampered by low adoption and poor connectivity, console and game-makers alike saw the potential. Today, there are over 700 million online gamers worldwide, with the gaming industry predicted to generate over £8 billion in revenue in 2017. Online gaming opens up a whole new world of possibilities for its users – connecting gamers from the four corners of the globe. Sure, you could use it to have a quick game of FIFA with your mate, without having to pop down the road; but equally you can have massive sci-fi shootouts with hundreds of other players from the Middle East to middle America.

So while purists might bemoan today’s focus on graphics over gameplay, it would be pretty hard to deny just how epic gaming has become. And we haven’t even touched on VR yet. Speaking of which…

...Epic TV
You can now watch your favourite Netflix shows on a huge virtual flat screen, in a huge virtual living room – that wouldn’t look out of place on MTV Cribs – using just your smartphone and a Samsung Gear VR headset. Seriously, no word of a lie!  Simply download the Netflix VR app, log into your account, slide your phone into the headset and you’re away. The epicness of it all just isn’t in question. The question is when did the scales tip from super-cool to epic?

Well, things in TV-land have been pretty awesome for a while now. HD was a big step up – you can’t lose yourself in King’s Landing if you can spot the pixels. And surround sound is massively cool, too. There’s nothing like added bass to make those action sequences jump off the screen.

But despite all of this, it was the instant accessibility of our favourite series and films that propelled TV into the realms of epic. Because while Netflix, catch-up and on-demand are now all givens, it’s easy to forget it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, it really wasn’t that long ago that you’d actually have to leave the house to get a box set or the latest film release. Trip down Blockbusters, anyone?  No, we don’t blame you.

...Epic music
Let’s face it, when it comes to music, the iPod changed everything. Sure, there were portable MP3 players before it, but they only really took off with the release of Apple’s sleek device. And it meant so much more than just music on the move. It placed entire music libraries in your pocket without the backache you’d get carrying loads of CDs.  

But while it was undeniably cool to take thousands of tracks over your mate's to share the underground bands you’d just unearthed, you were still held back by the limits of your own collection. It was only when WiFi got involved that the shackles truly came off.

With Apple Music – and an internet connection – practically all tracks from all artists the world over are unleashed. Whatever device you’re using, you can instantly stream anything your heart desires.  And if you’re stuck for ideas, no worries – you can get recommendations based on your previous selections, play tracks to fit your mood and even access playlists curated by your favourite acts.  

And with the raft of connected speakers out there today, like Google Home, all it takes is a quick sync to share your tunes with the rest of the living room. You don’t even have to move an inch – just holler “OK Google, play ‘Party Playlist’” and Google Home will do the rest. Just remember to delete the embarrassing Steps tracks from your playlist first!

So exactly WHEN did it all get so epic?
As we’ve seen, there have been plenty of awesome developments in home entertainment in recent years. And due to different technologies emerging at different times, in different forms of entertainment, it’s impossible to pin it all down to one epic moment.

But while there might not be one epic moment, there is one epic thing that ties them all together. And ironically for ‘home’ entertainment, it’s something that brought the outside world into our front rooms: Home Broadband. Suddenly we could access anything and everything we could want, almost immediately.

Admittedly, we didn’t get all this cool stuff the moment Home Broadband became a thing – we had to wait for the tech to catch up – but without it, none of the epic things we love in home entertainment today would be possible.

With EE Home Broadband, you get totally unlimited data usage – and unlike other providers, we’ll NEVER reduce your WiFi speed!  This means you’re always covered, no matter how many hours you spend binge-watching Netflix.

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