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Who Needs Smart TV?

Everything these days is smart. You’ve got your smart phone, smart grid, smart car, and now smart TV. The question is: Why? Consumers can get the same functionality with their Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and gaming consoles.

And my answer, like for most technology, is: Why not? There is no industry standard. There is no store a consumer can go to and say, “I want to hook up my TV to the Internet. What device do I need?” and not get a response along the lines of “Well, it depends on your setup and what you want to do and how you want to do it. We have a dozen different standalone devices or you can use your computer or your game console…” And so on. This is confusing.

This situation stems from not knowing exactly what the hub is for the home entertainment system. Every company wants its own device to win this little competition, which means OEMs have no idea which devices their consumers have settled on as their hubs; so they might as well add the hub capability into everything.

Now, not only do we have to deal with that confusion, but there is also DTV confusion in general stemming from the current rapid turnover of technology products. Back in the day, a family would get one television and it would last 30 years. My grandmother had one television my entire childhood, and I’m sure that huge box is still in a guestroom somewhere.

But then there was the HDTV turnover, and the flat screen LCD/plasma turnover, and the 3DTV and connected TV turnover. Consumers are feeling as if they are upgrading their televisions more than they ever have, which makes buying a new TV scary. Are they buying the right one for their needs; If they wait a month will they get a better one for half the price?

This is the same fear the PC market deals with — the day after purchase, it's almost obsolete. Not only do consumers have to deal with resolution, screen size, LCD/plasma, but they also have to consider the software. If they buy a TV with a sponsored app store, will that app store still be useful a year into the future? If they buy a TV with limited Internet capability, will it support the next big online video software?

At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, dozens of new TVs were introduced. {complink 4907|Sharp Electronics Corp.} focused on smart LCD TVs. To differentiate its own lineup, it's focusing on “green” TVs and its Quattron technology that improves the overall image and brightness. Sharp is also introducing a 70-inch LCD and 11 different models over 50 inches. And it's introducing three new 3D Blu-ray players with 1080 pixels and 24 frames per second.

Not to be outdone, {complink 3074|LG Electronics Inc.} is launching its own line of eight smart TVs with USB connectivity, WiFi adaptor, smart share tech, Web browser, integrated Netflix, Picasa, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and an app store. Five of these smart TVs will have 3D as well.

Perhaps most interesting, LG is releasing the Smart TV Upgrader (ST600), which will let any HDMI-capable TV become smart. Even nicer? It plays video from HDDs on your network. I’m in love already.

{complink 12493|Vizio Inc.} had some nice ultra-wide TVs available at CES — 50-inch and 58-inch 21:9 TVs with a resolution of 2560×1080. Anyone else prefer the wide-screen DVDs over full screen?

Smart TV is not an indication that 3D has failed. The 3D technology is still advancing, and OEMs will continue to add that functionality into their TVs regardless of whether consumers actively pursue it or not. 3DTV is still hindered by every brand sticking to its own 3D format, and that scares off consumers. The main difference between the two technologies is that 3D is a novelty and can advance a little more slowly. Smart TV, on the other hand, is directly addressing consumers’ wants, especially as more and more 20-somethings move to Internet content instead of cable.

My current TV is over 10 years old. It’s a monster and is showing no signs of slowing. But when I finally upgrade (sooner rather than later if my fiancé has anything to say about it), it will be to a smart TV (or LG’s ST600). And probably all the other devices will be smart, too.

But at least that way I’ll know at least one of them will work with my setup. Hopefully.

15 comments on “Who Needs Smart TV?

  1. SP
    January 18, 2011

    Well I want to take a Smart TV. I am defintely going to buy to make things easier. My young daughter wants to watch Dora, funny videos on you tube, some animals show and sometimes she wants to watch her own video. Now I struggle to switch from laptop to TV to video cam to DVD player. I guess if TV can do everything why not, then I can hide my laptop and use it only for work purpose.

  2. Parser
    January 18, 2011

    The idea of smart appliance is that one does not have to worry about any configuration or external boxes. Buying a smart TV means to customer just power it up connect antenna or internet / ethernet cable. Then on the screen all available services will show up. Adding a computer to the TV is by plugin an HDMI or similar cable. So if someone buys a smart TV now it will have everything inside what is known and popular at present time.

    In two years this smart TV may need a software/firmware update to follow the market changes or unfortunately a new TV may have to replace this one to accomplish that. There might be an after market with boxes to translate new services, but I doubt. 

  3. jbond
    January 18, 2011

    You compared the smart TV with 3D television and I don't think you are on a level playing field. People have been able to hook up their computers to their televisions to stream internet content for years now. The current smart television movement is just making it easier for people to connect with having everything installed in the television with a “plug and play” setup.

    You can take your 6 month old LCD television and hook it up to an $80 blu-ray player, connect to the web, and instantly have a smart television.

    With so many options out there if you are going to spend the money on a new television hoping for a new experience people would be better off buying a 3D television and using an external device to make it a smart television.

    And granted 3D still has its limits right now with very limited content and still having to wear glasses, but if you are in the market for buying a new television 3D seems to have the largest growth potential.

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    January 19, 2011

    With PCs and mobiles becoming obsolete every now and then , at least our home TV gave us a peace of mind. We would buy a TV and rest assured that it would work for the next 10 years without needing an upgrade or replacement. With these smart TVs , that peace of mind is now threatened. All those millions of viewers who are content with the breakfast shows, news channels , some soaps and a movie here and there will be now bombarded with a lot of unnecessary choices of content and other smart functionality.  The current dumb TV will die its untimely death and all this mass population will suffer for no reason.  Same thing happened to our age old radios , Sony Walkmans, our tape recorders and film cameras

  5. Mydesign
    January 19, 2011

         Michell, I would like to think in a different way. New technologies are developing day by day & if we are able to analyze the developments happened in television sector for the last one or two decades, we can see the transformation and the results are very amazing. Starting from color television, Flat TV, LCD TV, Plasma TV, LED TV, HD TV, Blue ray technology and now 3D TV, What would be the Next?

          Every year companies are spending millions of Dollars for the research and developments in the same sector, which is not much benefitted for them due to the fast transformations. For example Sony had spent millions of dollars in R&D of LCD TV, before it comes in a fruitful way (mass popular), the competitor introduced LED TV and similar way things are happening for other innovative products also. Before 3D technology became popular (production and market driving), competitor may come up with some other advance technologies and hence this process is progressing like an never ending open chain. From customer point of view, we can take advantage of these innovative technologies, but what’s the gain for companies?, if they are moving to next sector before going for production.

  6. saranyatil
    January 19, 2011

    prabhakar,

    i agree with your thought completely, the scenario is driving everyone crazy before we zero down on a particular product there is an upgrade version of the same available in the market so we cant really decide on what to buy and we need to scrap the old one continuosly if we want to go with the trend plus this is definitely leading to environmental pollution.

  7. prabhakar_deosthali
    January 19, 2011

    Very true Saranyatil . New technologies and related products are getting introduced even before the earlier product introductions reach a mature phase. This is happening in Mobiles, cars, TVs, and what not. The result is a lot of still working products are dumped into junkyards. A lot of tools , jigs and fixtures , which costed companies millions of dollars, are scrapped before their cost is recovered. And who is benefitting from this ? neither the producer nor the consumer, I will say. The people who are tech-savvy want to ride the technology wave. The people who have money want to ride the wave for fashion's sake. The more mature crowd only waits and waits and waits for some stable product to be available in the market. You buy something latest and a couple of years down the line you won't get the spares for it. How do we stop this juggernaut?

  8. Anna Young
    January 19, 2011

    I recently had three elderly neighbours come to me for advice on what type of TV to purchase in the light of the impending change over from analogue to digital reception in my area in the UK. I was at loss to offer a satisfactory answer to their questions because even my person has been to many electronic retail outlets seeking expertise advice on what new TV to purchase. 

    The difficulty I had was that the salespersons I encountered on each occasion of my visit were more interested in selling me what they deemed the latest technology rather than what is beneficial to my needs. However what was more annoying is that some of the independent outlets salesperson were telling me that they are trying to get rid of the present stock the bigger outlets called the latest technology on the market for the newer one that has just arrived on the market. So the question is who is telling the truth about what is new and is not? 

    This is where I concur with Prahbakar who asserts that new technologies and related products are getting introduced well before the earlier production reach mature phase. So, you can see my dilemma in giving advice to a certain group of consumers who I feel is in limbo with this new maize of smart gadgets. I really hope that producers or manufacturers of smart TVs and other smart gadgets will include compatibility regardless of the make of product.

  9. Ashu001
    January 19, 2011

    Prabhakar,

    This is what happens in a Economy where Credit is way-way-way too cheap[Thanks to the US Federal Reserve].

    This is also what is causing the Inflationary situation everywhere worldwide.

    Eventually,this juggernaut will end on its own.[Because it is not sustainable].We don't need to do anything ourselves(except retaining our sanity) to stop it.

    [Most probably ending with a replacement of the US Dollar as World Reserve currency with Gold]

    Regards

    Ashish.

     

  10. Anand
    January 19, 2011

    Michelle, nice article.

      I would consider this argument more as an evolution rather than confusion. Just like you could figure out your love (ST600) 🙂 , people will find theirs. We can broadly classify the TV into tech savy and non-tech savy.

     For non-tech savy choice is easy just go ask the shop owner for the best seller or for the best price and buy it :). I did this 8 years back when I was young.

     For tech-savy choice is all determined by what they want. Some like 3D some dont. Some belive HDMI is critical some dont. I am sure they will have their own choices in mind.

     

     

  11. Ariella
    January 19, 2011

    Good point, anadvy, the ideal choice depends on the personality and expectations of the person making the purchase.  Some want all the bells and whistles, while other prefer something that is very simple to operate.  I also want to say that “smart TV” sound like an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp.”

  12. Ariella
    January 19, 2011

    That is something to consider, prabhakar_deosthali.  People are directed to always upgrade to the latest and greatest.  And then where to all the products of yesterday go?  Even things that can be used for years are discarded far earlier because they are supplanted by the newer version.  And because our products tend to be designed in a way that makes fixing them not worth the hassle or expense, we get a push to just buy a new one rather than making repairs.

  13. Eldredge
    January 24, 2011

    I'm waiting for the day when all of my components start fighting with one onother for dominance!

  14. eemom
    January 24, 2011

    We do have way too many “smart” products.  As you mentioned, I already get the “smart” capability through my Tivo.  I love my Tivo's other features so I do not feel compelled to go out and buy a smart TV.  I am also not a fan of 3D viewing.  Besides the fact that there is little content, I tend to get nauseous when I watch in 3D. My kids are the same way so I know its not just my age, something I blame all my other shortcomings on. 

    It is true that the choice depends on what the user wants/needs.  I am happy with my current setup, so I will not be purchasing either.  If you are in the market for a new TV, well, it depends on what other devices you have that will interface with the TV, which will ultimately dictate which TV to purchase.  My Tivo updates itself since it is always connected so we don't miss a moment (thank God) of new technology.

     

  15. Damilare
    January 31, 2011

    i agree, i mean if you already have a good laptop which you can connect to your LCD or your 3D tv to get live streaming and  to use applications from the internet you wouldn't need to but yourself a smart tv

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