Computers & Electronics

Are "smart" tvs anything but a gimmick?

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  • Feb 29th, 2012 10:04 am
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Nov 5, 2009
611 posts
33 upvotes

Are "smart" tvs anything but a gimmick?

I am looking to buy a 55" tv and am debating whether these new "smart" tvs can be any smarter than my present 3 year old 46" Samsung LCD. My PC is hooked up to my tv via HDMI and with a cordless mouse and keyboard, I get online from my couch without the need for any apps. Just have to change the input on my tv.

Is your smart tv really that smart? Are you happy with the apps that come with it? Are they doing what they are supposed to do. Many owners of these new smart tvs are complaining that the apps are not up to par, wired or wireless. What's your experience??

Are smart tvs an expensive and unnecessary gimmick for now?
16 replies
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Mar 6, 2003
9308 posts
989 upvotes
Ottawa
basically still a gimmick for me. If you are already tech-savvy, they are too slow and cumbersome.

My tablet is always an arm's length away and if I need weather, stocks, facebook, I'd rather reach for a tablet. If I need to play videos, my computer does a better job through Windows media center (or equivalent)
Newbie
Feb 3, 2011
28 posts
Toronto
Some of the apps have clumsy interfaces (Google Maps on mine requires using the number pad for text input ala old cell phones) and are very gimmicky, but the core video jukebox stuff I'm very happy with. Basically for media playback and other core HTPC tasks I find the Smart TV features good enough to replace an HTPC or something like the WDTV. For all the other goodies that potentially come with an HTPC, not so much. But if you have a tablet on hand to do your surfing and other non-TV tasks, then I'd say it's worth it if the price premium is less than the cost of a standalone device (WDTV, Boxee, whatever) to handle the job.

It may also vary from model to model and brand to brand, my TV streams HD content over the network just fine. Yours may have issues, research the specific model you're interested in. Also, TVs not branded as "smart" may still do the core tasks like streaming video from DLNA servers. My Samsung D500 series does this, for example.
Sr. Member
Jun 19, 2009
735 posts
60 upvotes
Toronto
LAN/Wifi/DLNA access for media is great. Most the other apps are pretty useless. However, for full internet surfing on the TV, Smart TVs can be useful if you don't have a PC/Apple TV/Google TV/Roku/Boxee connected to the TV.

I still have old CRT TVs , but I would like to know if there are there options for wireless audio/video output from PC to TV? My computer is not all that close to my TV so I don't want to be running cables. I'd rather ditch Smart features and 3D and save a ton of money and have the TV accept A/V from my PC if it's possible. Also considering building a dedicated HTPC for this reason based on the significant savings for getting a dumb flat panel instead of a smart 3D enabled TV.

Still very early in my though process since it might not be justifiable given the lack of content to display on a big screen. Still using analog tv signals, but things might change soon with Rogers.
Newbie
Feb 3, 2011
28 posts
Toronto
Consider looking at TVs which aren't "smart" but still play media over the network. They tend to have pricing closer to dumb TVs while still satisfying your need there, I think.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2004
871 posts
143 upvotes
Only thing I have ever used is the USB playback - the netflix won't stream as fast as the PS3 will.

Playbook makes a great replacement for browsing with a BT keyboard/mouse or even using a blackberry as the keyboard.
Sr. Member
Aug 30, 2011
710 posts
71 upvotes
Edmonton
If you have a PC hooked up to your TV, then there's really no need for a "smart" TV.
Deal Guru
Jan 17, 2009
13737 posts
16378 upvotes
I don't care about apps for televisions, that's easily taken care of by hooking up your laptop or computer to your tv via HDMI. However, I do love the fact that newer TVs are coming with things such as built in wifi, ethernet, etc.
A TV with a built in media player that can playback high def content from an external hard drive connected via USB, or stream 720/1080p content from your home network via ethernet/wireless is brilliant. If this became the norm, it could wipe out standalone boxes like WDTV player.
Deal Guru
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Dec 12, 2009
10718 posts
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Toronto
BobSagget wrote:
Feb 26th, 2012 9:01 pm
I don't care about apps for televisions, that's easily taken care of by hooking up your laptop or computer to your tv via HDMI. However, I do love the fact that newer TVs are coming with things such as built in wifi, ethernet, etc.
A TV with a built in media player that can playback high def content from an external hard drive connected via USB, or stream 720/1080p content from your home network via ethernet/wireless is brilliant. If this became the norm, it could wipe out standalone boxes like WDTV player.

It is not a technological barrier for the tv manufacturers to imbed an extra chip so that the tv can do what a wdtv does. It is just that an extra feature like this comes at such a huge cost that you can probably buy like half dozen wdtv players. I bet a lot of people out there are not even aware of media players and so this is a chance to make some $ off of less knowledgeable customers. I would say smart tv is not as much a gimmick as it is an attempt to harvest $ from those not in the know.
Deal Expert
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Nov 7, 2003
16876 posts
126 upvotes
YVR
It's a gimmick. I wouldn't waste my money on those features. Just buy a media box or attach a HTPC to your "dumb TV" and it'll become "smart".
Deal Addict
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Nov 1, 2010
4792 posts
996 upvotes
Kanata
For sure, most of the 'apps' on my TV are useless. They're cumbersome to use with the remote, they have little to no information about the content that's available, takes a LONG time to open, close (Might be cause my TV is not as smart/old), some are pay, some are trial and a few others I can't think of. I did find the youtube app pretty useful, I would create a playlist on my computer and login on the tv to play it when friends are over or something. Even then it takes a good 10 minutes to type in the information with a remote.

Like others, I just have a PC hooked up to it via HDMI and wireless keyboard mouse. It's WAY more functional, and anyone who knows how to use a computer can use it.
Uh, yeah, I'd like to speak to a Mr. Tabooger, first name Ollie.
Deal Fanatic
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Oct 7, 2007
5381 posts
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Mississauga, ON
Not sure if it's a gimmick, but for me I never use these features.

My problem is that they are so slow to launch and hard to navigate. Also the content is very lacking and usually not customizable.

A seperate device like the Apple TV, WD Live, PBO, etc would be so much better.
There's a sucker born every minute.
Member
Apr 14, 2008
411 posts
21 upvotes
Mississauga
It isn't a gimmick - it is a trend.

Almost everyone would like to hookup a media player, computer, smartbox to a TV to play their content. To incorporate such a device directly into the TV is the next logical step (Google, Apple and Microsoft are competing on this convergence). The secondary trend started by iPad is streaming content using tablets.

Also given the trend towards IPTV and Hulu Plus/Netfliex, etc., the future TV's will have to be smart and IP based rather than rely on terminals such as boxes from Rogers/Bell to serve content. Hopefully, in the future, we won't need a cable service at least not the way it is provided today.

I agree that current generation of TVs with smart apps do it rather badly today (too slow and proprietary), so not as appealing.

So the question is who will become the de-facto standard OS for TVs? It cannot be proprietary OS from Sony, Samsung, etc. who do a bad job at it. I think Apple has the best shot followed by Google (microsoft is too smartbox focused). Look forward to the what the next AppleTV will be like - hopefully it is a game changer and can be incorporated directly into a TV.
Deal Addict
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May 9, 2009
4812 posts
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I often use the YouTube app on my TV and I occasionally stream content over DLNA. When I eventually get a Netflix account, I'll try it out on my TV as well.

Samsung has a remote control app available for Android & iPhone that connects to their smart TVs. I like it since I can use the keyboard on my phone to search for videos on YouTube. I probably wouldn't use the YouTube app at all if I had to type all my searches using T9 on the TV remote.

The remote app is pretty useful when I'm upstairs on the computer and my girlfriend falls asleep watching TV downstairs. I can use the remote app to turn down the volume or turn off the TV.
Deal Addict
Oct 19, 2006
1863 posts
120 upvotes
We use DLNA on our TV all the time. For us it's not a gimmick. I also sometimes show people youtube clips played from my android onto my TV. So again not a gimmick. It's just a matter of what you do with it.
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