What Is A Smart TV?

By Branko Miletic

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, one of the buzz words doing the rounds was Smart TV. But what is a smart TV? At its most basic, they have Internet connectivity where users can download applications or other web content as well as customising their TV interfaces. But there are also other features such as blutooth, wifi and even in one case, a remote control with an LED screen that you can take with you around the house and allows you to view what is on your television.

So what is one offer? We checked out what some of the major vendors will be rolling out over the next few months

Samsung released its Google TV collaboration and a new Blu-ray disc player based on the Android platform, offering access to a heap of internet services. At CES, Samsung demonstrated televisions designed with a remote user interface, which will allow nearly 20 million DirecTV customers to watch both pre-recorded and live programmes from their digital video recorder directly on their network-connected television, without the need for any additional set-top boxes. Known as RVU and based on industry standards such as DLNA, it enables digital video recorders to act as servers for any and all network-connected televisions in the home.

Samsung also announced that all of its 2011 Smart TVs and Smart Blu-ray players will include support for Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash Player 10.1 enabling access to web sites and online video services that use Flash.

Capable of supporting multiple connected televisions, DirectTV’s server enables all the features to be displayed directly on those connected TVs.

The most impressive Samsung had on offer was its Series 8000 LED, more of which can be read about here.

LG wants us all to THINQ. The LG Smart ST600 TV Upgrader will give access a range of premium content from global providers, as well as locally sourced shows and movies to cater to different tastes around the world. It also connects viewers to the growing range of LG Apps as well as VUDU, Netflix, YouTube, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus and Amazon Video on Demand.

The company’s THINQ technology will deploy a smart meter to ensure that digital home appliances, like your LG TV, will use only the minimum amount of energy and at the least expensive rates.

Sony is also going down the Google TV path, but we’ll have to wait a few more months to see what the Japanese behemoth has in store for us mere mortals. They were very coy at CES and were not as forthcoming as some of the vendors, although they did manage to turn heads (and cause queues) with the 3D goggles mentioned in our Top 5 gadgets of CES.

Panasonic which has been pushing it’s VIERA Connect service has upgraded its IPTV offerings, expanding the video streaming side and also adding two-way interactive features such as gaming, social networking and also fitness programs. \Panasonic will also soon unveil VIERA Connect Market, allowing consumers to personalise their VIERA Connect experience via third-party apps.

Toshiba'snew Net TV system will allow you to use Skype, along with other applications and its Yahoo Connected sets have another set of apps that will do a heap of other things as well.

Finally Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft- you remember them, they used to do PC operating systems, but now it is launching a Kinect controller with the capability to stream video and also certain Xbox services that users will be able to pause, rewind and fast-forward Netflix videos with gestures and spoken commands. While not strictly a smart television, it is certainly taking advantage of the technology.

As for other players, expect the likes of Sharp, Sanyo, Vizio, TEAC and many others to jump on the Smart TV bandwagon sooner rather than later and we will have a situation with Smart TVs in 2011 like we had for Smartphones in 2005- a massive amount of choice for our collective viewing pleasure.