Home Your Tech Entertainment Smart TVs – Just how Smart are they really?

With big screen televisions becoming bigger, lighter and cheaper, literally all at once, the unique selling proposition of any one manufacturer’s range has had to change dramatically.

It was only a short number of years ago that we knew brands had certain traits. Pioneer was the king of the plasma, Samsung and LG were amongst the design leaders, and Soniq (and company) were the budget beaters.

Now with pricepoint becoming almost “all important” the manufacturers have had to turn to something different to entice would be buyers to spend that little bit extra. Cue the “Smart TV”, in one sentence, a television that has the ability to go “online”. Whether it be to watch YouTube videos, or view digital photos saved on a computer, or to download entire television series to watch at a later date, the available functions an online television can do is quite impressive, but would you use any of them?

I’m a geek and a try-hard audiophile. I have a dedicated computer connected to my main TV which some of the punters will know as a HTPC (Home Theatre PC). It contains every digital photo I’ve taken, every piece of music I own, and videos and movies amassed during the years. It’s hooked up to my home theatre surround sound setup and is controlled by a tiny little Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. It works a treat and I love it. But try and teach someone how to run it, and you’re gonna be rich if you get paid by the hour.

History has shown little success when it comes to the mashup of digital content and the humble television. HTPCs, set top boxes, DVD based and hard drive media players, gaming consoles and now the Smart TV have had their share of the spotlight and in reality all have failed to deliver what the average Joe needs - an easy way to consume digital content on a big screen TV. And this is where the problem lies. What device should do it? The TV? A games console? A setup top box? All of them??

And as the technology becomes more advanced, so does the ability to learn it. “Ok, I need to be on AV3 which is HDMI for my Media Player. Now I have to make sure it’s on and that the volume’s set to 20 seeing as I need to control it from the Player now, and I have to find the remote to launch YouTube, now let’s type in Samsung…it’s tough typing on a remote control you know..televis…ah stuff it, I’ll just fire up the laptop and have a look.” Sound familiar?

Samsung’s doing a bang up job of its Smart TV line up. They’ve included some really, really nice features, including a built in PVR, hand gesture controls with voice command, wireless connectivity, and even a partnership with Foxtel all wrapped up in a dead sexy TV body. Essentially they’re wanting their Smart TVs, to be Smart Media Centres and to take over the roles of the other devices in the entertainment sandwich.

Will it work? Simply, No. Steep prices, with steep learning curves, and questions of “how can I view my photos” and “how can I play this movie that such and such downloaded” will all come up. “I already have Foxtel” and “I don’t have wireless at home” could all see a look in, as well as “why doesn’t this video file have sound” and “can I play my music from iTunes”.  For all the things the Samsung Smart TV can do, there are more things that it can't.

Would I buy a Smart TV? No, for the premium that I would need to pay I would invest it in a better quality and or bigger screen (size does matter after all!). Let the TV, just be a TV and worry about the other devices which will be infinitely cheaper compared to the “built-in” Smart TV options (calling Apple TV, WD Media Player, Xbox and PS3).

Smart TV? No thanks. Brilliant Pictured, Well Priced, Huge Screened, Low Powered TV? Yes Please!

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Dexter Eugenio

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A blogger and small business owner proudly helping other small businesses with their IT and Social Media, Dexter is a 15 year player in the "IT game" A closet marketing nerd and self confessed technology geek, Dexter is passionate about technology, creativity and small business and is not the least surprised he has chosen a career most befitting to his name.

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