How smart is Smart TV?

I have been interested in Smart TV for a while now and I think it is an interesting area to look into. First of all, because it is TV and, despite what some people might think, TV still drives an enormous part of how we consume content. Secondly, the integration between telly and the Internet is likely to be a significant growth area for both consumer electronics firms and digital content providers.

This integration between TV and online is the main reason why Smart TV is often also referred to as “Connected TV”. I think it is fair to say that the days of television as a stand-alone medium are limited at best. No longer is it enough for people to just sit in front of the telly and consume its content; viewers want to interact with the content, share it with others and access it online too.

I have just picked some examples to better illustrate the functionality which Smart TV has to offer:

  1. Interaction – Smart TV is all about about enabling users to interact with their TVs. A good example is the gesture control functionality of Samsung’s latest line of Smart TV’s. In theory, users won’t need a remote control anymore to switch channels. It was interesting to read a review of this functionality by CNET which found that “the Smart TV voice and gesture control features routinely mis-heard commands, and the gesture commands were laggy, when they were properly received at all.”
  2. Acting as a content hub (1) – Smart TV systems like Panasonic’s VIERA TV enable users to link up their TV with content stored on other devices. Things like built-in Wi-Fi enable the VIERA TV to ‘communicate’ with compatible devices, which means that you can for example stream music or pictures stored on your smartphone to your TV.
  3. Acting as a content hub (2) – The integration of the Internet into TV sets is – alongside interaction – a key feature of Smart TV.  Similar to the way in which online content and apps are integrated in smartphones, Smart TV users can access online content through their TV sets. A good, recent example is the tie-up between LG and Perform whereby LG’s Smart TV users will have access to Perform’s digital sports content. Google TV is another good example, with users being able to control their TV using their Android phones.
Main learning point: it’s still early days in terms of user adoption of Smart TV and perhaps it is not as ‘smart’ (yet) as some people would like it to be. Both its (interactive) functionality, its online content and overall user experience are likely improve and grow over time. However, if the growth explosion of smartphones is anything to go by, then Smart TVs will have a bright future to look forward to!

Related links for further learning:

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/17/ikea-puts-away-your-tv-cables-tech-credentials/

http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/06/samsung-details-pricing-and-availability-for-its-2012-smart-tv-l/

http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/16/hbo-go-samsung-smart-tv/

http://www.samsung.com/us/2012-smart-tv/#hub

http://www.google.com/tv/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403248,00.asp

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