I always thought that "smart TV" was a misnomer, since those TVs never seemed smart to me -- just connected, with a handful of manufacturer-chosen apps for particular web services.
But automatic content recognition -- some real intelligence that knows what you're watching & what you have watched in the past -- has great potential for viewers, advertisers & content providers.
TiVo experimented with tracking viewers' preferences & suggesting related content that might be of interest, but their universe was limited and didn't include the web.
It would be truly exciting to have a smart TV that can track, suggest & locate video content that a match an individual's tastes & historical preferences. Having said that, I can think of dozens of reasons why that might never happen, and those reasons have little to do with technological capability.
I guess my main point is that if you build a thin client into the TV, you can watch any type of streaming media that's on any web site of the Internet, and a whole lot more. Instead of being limited to only a handful of sites and a handful (if that) of streaming protocols.
When I see ads that list the web sites one of these Internet TV appliances can go to, it sort of makes me laugh, no? Imagine if Dell sold its computers with ads that listed the web sites they could browse. No one would buy such a limited device. Either that, or the ad would consist of a ridiculously long list that changes by the minute.
None of this is particularly difficult to do, either.
I recently got a Samsung 32" Smart TV. First I looked at regular TVs and the cost difference was very small ($40). There is a single remote to control TV and apps. It has all the apps I want like Amazon, Netflix, HBOgo and Pandora. I am able to screencast from my smartphone to my TV to show photos or videos I have. This was a great hit at a recent family gathering. On Windows 8.1 the TV shows up under Digital Media Devices and I can play movies from the PC to TV flawlessly. Windows 8.1 makes sceencasting easy with Miracast. So overall, it was worth the $40 investment.
Dont know how many people would like to use their TV sets to update the social networking site. TV has a much bigger screen and you cannot have many TVs in home. Especially when kids around you many not want to do multiple things on TV. Somehow smartphones seems better for these personal activities than using TV.
I suppose there may be something to be gained in having your smartphone synch up with what's playing on the TV set, so you can constantly text back and forth with others about what you're seeing. But quite honestly, all the rest sounds like pointless hand-wringing to me.
Many or most people are already very familiar with web browsing. PCs will support HTML5 as well as Flash, Silverlight, WMP, Real Media, QuickTime, or anything else you throw at them. And if they don't, an update is always available to install the new codec or new streaming protocol. What is so hard about simply installing an IP stack and one or more web browsers, in a smart TV?
Apps? What "apps" do people need to browse the web on their PCs? Mainly, the web browser app. In small hand-held devices, many "apps" turn out to be fairly trivial. Often not much more than a simple "bookmark" in the PC's web browser.
TVs and PCs now support HDMI interfaces, and most TVs and PCs also support RGB and stereo audio analog interfaces. To circumvent the inexplicable limitations of most smart TVs on the market, the easy answer is just connect a PC to the TV. That will allow you to go to ANY web site, including any web sites that support TV content (as well as your lawn service and bank), and ANY codec and streaming protocol. It seems like TV manufacturers could build a streamlined version of this, without trying so hard to limit what the user can decode and what web sites the user is allowed to browse!
Devices like Chromecast are another way to circumvent the obstacles created by smart TVs, although if you use a tablet with Chromecast, that second screen would not be usable for all the texting. And too, handhelds don't support all of the codecs used out there on the Internet.