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TechReport (UK)

‘Smart’ (‘Connected’) TV

A ‘Smart’ or ‘Connected’ TV (like any other similarly titled device) is one which is given additional capabilities through being connected to a special server at the manufacturer via the internet.

Typically, this is represented on such a TV by a series of ‘Apps’ (much like those on a Smart Phone / Tablet) which allow the user to access new content.

Examples in the UK include catch-up TV Apps (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 etc.), streaming video providers (Netflix, Amazon Instant Video etc.), most social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter etc.), YouTube and a number of specialist content providers (gaming, high-end brands etc.).

Various surveys of TV users suggest that Smart TV functionality has become the number one ‘must-have’ feature on a new TV (some even watch more content delivered via the Smart TV interface than over-air (Terrestrial and Satellite broadcasts), so the way the Smart TV function is presented and the Apps available have become absolutely critical to viewers.

It is not really possible at this point to make a firm recommendation for one manufacturer’s Smart TV offering over that of another – for one thing, most manufacturers will change the look and feel of their interface from year to year, so the market leader one year may not be so for the following year.

 In general though, it can be agreed that Samsung and LG probably have the widest range of Apps available within their Smart TV ‘Hub’ and both have very polished, slick interfaces which are easy to use. Other manufacturers will invariably offer most of the main Apps (as listed above), but may not have so much choice, nor all of our ‘favourite’ Apps.

This is simply because the 3rd parties who create the Apps (e.g. the BBC for the iPlayer) will inevitably concentrate their manpower on supporting the introduction and maintenance of Apps for the major players in the market first, so placing smaller manufacturers at an instant disadvantage (unless they sensibly duplicate the interface requirements of a major player).

The other point to bear in mind is the longevity of support for the most important Apps offered on a Smart TV – you can read more about this important consideration here.

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