LAS VEGAS – Smart TV is turning out to be a slow learner, through no fault of its own.
As evidenced at CES here on Monday (Jan. 7), leading TV makers like LG, Samsung and Panasonic are scrambling to redefine smart TV, adding their own twist to the smart TV platform, with features ranging from magic remote and personalization to speech recognition.
Many of these new developments are simultaneously fascinating and confusing.
The original motivation behind smart TV was that it promised universal content search for TV viewing across Internet, TV broadcast, video-on-demand streaming and social media. Ed Border, senior analyst for TV systems research at IHS, said “the basic need for an environment where consumers can browse all the linear TV and Internet content, and choose one they want to watch” still exists, and “Google, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and others are fighting for this.”
The power of smart TV search “will lie in the content deals and aggregation that platforms can achieve,” explained Border. At a time when smart TV remains fragmented, no one has come up with a smart TV with complete control over the growing amount of content, apps and services.
Rather than drawing more attention to its incomplete video content search capability, smart TV advocates are now shifting focus to peripheral matters like user interfaces.
LG's magic remote
LG Electronics CTO Scott Ahn, for example, observed: “Smart TVs have many smart features. But the way consumers interact with smart TV isn’t smart.” LG's solution is a “magic remote” for its proprietary smart TV. The remote “lets consumers write the numbers to change channels, allows users to speak to the remote instead of a TV, or lets users to do one finger gesture, instead of strenuous arm gestures,” Ahn explained.
LG's magic remote for Google TV.
The flip side of LG's magic remote for Google TV showing QWERTY keyboard.
A keyboard doesn't take the place of other remotes (ie direct tv or uverse) but it does allow good solo operation of web services.. I don't really think that it's necessary to have a universal TV interface. As long as they enable access to the most desired services, that's good enough. I'm still wondering who is actually using apple tv or google tv. I don't understand the value prop...
"The power of smart TV search 'will lie in the content deals and aggregation that platforms can achieve,' explained Border."
Honestly, I'm at a loss why there's this mental block on the subject of smart TVs.
I do agree with those who mentioned features like voice recognition, or other local bells and whistles, although those are also not necessary. But on this content thing, why do people make such a big deal of content, when there already are so many content aggregation sites out there that anyone can use?
Do tablets and smartphones sell because their manufacturers have walled off a lot of content? No. Do HDTVs sell because the manufacturers walled off content? Also no.
People already have their content sources figured out, and anyone who uses Internet TV knows that ever more portals become available over time, without any one CE vendor having to make any special deals with anyone. If anything, it is the attempt at making special deals that have gotten vendors, such as Apple and Google, in trouble with the owners of the TV content, in the past.
Perhaps I misunderstand what the word "platforms" referred to, in the quote.
I took it to mean the smart TVs themselves. If, instead, it refers to Web sites that aggregate TV content, like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube, the cable and satellite companies themselves, and a long list of other more obscure sites that already exist, then I would agree.
Just making the point that there is no lack of content aggregation on the Internet already. So there's no reason to make it sound like this still neeeds to happen.
I have an Xbox, Samsung Smart TV and an Apple TV box. I work abroad and rely on a broadband connection to view TV programs.
I find all these devices are too limited in what you can watch.
Xbox have the right idea with its 24 hour baseball channel but so far that's about it. There are hardly any stations allowing access through the Smart TV.
My question to LG Electronics' CTO Scott Ahn (who says “Smart TVs have many smart features. But the way consumers interact with SmartTV isn’t smart.”) would be: why not get rid of the remote for SmartTV altogether? If your TV is so smart, has built-in camera, why not implement gesture-based and speech-based commands? While you are there, implement facial recognition so I can train my SmartTV to differentiate my commands to those of my kids.
Uggh, just uggh. Until these smart TV's have i3's embedded and run XBMC as the default I'm just not interested.
Gesture and voice control? A remote is faster, more accurate and a hell of a lot easier for me to program.
Streamed gaming services are interesting but my Steam account is better.
I have a smart TV now and the only time I use the "smart" features is when I press the wrong button on my Harmony remote.
Sometimes I wonder if the manufacturers consider the majority buyer when decking out TVs with all of these features. The audience of EE-Times may appreciate web access, apps and a remote with a full keyboard on it. In the context of consumer electronics, however, "smart" should mean the the device is smart, not that the user has to be smart.
When VCRs (video cassette recorders for you youngsters) were in every house, the running joke was that no one could program them and most of them spent their days with "12:00" blinking on the front panel, indicating that the clock hadn't even been set.
With a user interface track record like that, I don't expect so called "smart" TV's to gain any more acceptance than 3D TVs have.
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