Big Name Battle- We Loose

I’ve flipped and flopped over the years when it comes to owning computers. Stated as a Microsoft Windows user, then off to Linux for a few years and now all in on Apple hardware and software.

I’ve been told over and over again, forget the Apple TV as a streaming box, get a Roku streaming box, no wait, get an Amazon Fire Stick. So up comes Cyber Monday, we got the Home a FireStick from Amazon as a streaming box for the Guest room TV.

Fast forward one week later and two of the biggest software/hardware companies are battling over who needs to be more dominant.

That said Google decided to pull it’s YouTube application from all of Amazons streaming devices. With that, one of the applications that is most used in our house, gone!

Now what am I supposed to do? Guess it’s back to drawing board, maybe back to another Apple TV box.

Lets talk Smart TV

Smart everything…. is the tv really smart

The term smart is being thrown around these days on everything, we have smart phones, smart watch smart hubs, smart ca….. err thats just a brand. But what about the TV we have in the living room. Is it time to upgrade to a smart tv?

What is a smart TV?

According to wikipedia:

“A smart TV, sometimes referred to as connected TV or hybrid TV, is a television set or set-top box with integrated Internet and Web 2.0 features, and is an example of technological convergence between computers and television sets and set-top boxes. Besides the traditional functions of television sets and set-top boxes provided through traditional broadcasting media, these devices can also provide Internet TV, online interactive media, over-the-top content, as well as on-demand streaming media, and home networking access.”

Looking around my own living room, my more than 5yr old Samsung Plasma has more than done its time and provided some very good tv viewing experience. There is nothing that can beat the blacks and contrast details of a plasma tv, but thats besides the point here. What we are talking about here is the smart tv.

If one would take a walk down the electronics aisle for any of the big name stores such as Walmart or SAMS Club, or an electronics store such as Best Buy, Frye or local here HHGregg. One will be plastered in the face with these bright shiny new LED tv that boast the “smart tv” logo. But what does this really mean to a shopper?

Well for starters, going back approximately 3-6 years ago someone of the manufacturers had this bright idea of, why don’t we just stuck a mini computer into our television set add a few applications like they do on the mobile handset devices and slap the name smart tv on there. While this is a brilliant idea (especially for us geeks) to have a mini computer in our tv that can run smaller applications and widgets, it was one of the worst thing to ever happen to the tv industry. There are no standard on what one can expect from a smart tv so more and more manufacturers try to cram more and more software crap into their tv (remember the old gateway and eMachine computers etc). With all of this crap being shoved into the tv sets, just like the computers they slow the hell down.

Well what are the different Smart TV platforms?

I’m glad someone asked that question because there are a whole lot of them. Do a quick Google search and see what you find.

From Wikipedia here are some of current most widely used platforms out today:

Vendor specific smart TV platforms:

  • Samsung Smart TV ((now based on Tizen OS)[21][22][23]
  • LG webOS smart TV.[24] Old system: NetCast,[25][26][27] “SMART TV”[28] branded NetCast Entertainment Access devices by LG Electronics[29]
  • Panasonic Firefox OS. Old systems: Viera Cast and Viera Connect
  • Apple TV Media Receiver based on iOS and initially using Front Row (software)
  • Toshiba Places[30] by Toshiba
  • Roku (also the name of the company who makes the device)[31]
  • TiVo[32]
  • PlayStation TV with Sony Entertainment Network (sometimes also referred to as “Sony Internet TV”)[33] (by Sony)[34]
  • Xbox One/Xbox 360 (by Microsoft), while primarily game consoles, these with the latest software updates now features many typical smart TV features.
  • Chromecast by Google
  • Slingbox by Sling Media
Whats wrong with Smart TV interface?

For starters, most of them are slow, they are buggy and confusing. Take for example, Samsung Tizen Tizen Smart TVsmart tv, the interface is so bloated, that when a user is in the smart tv area of the tv, it could take up to 30-45 seconds to change from watching a show via smart and back to regular tv. Also there are an overwhelming amount of application to choose from in the tv application store, it’s so hard to figure out where to start, there is no defined way to figure out which app is better than the other, the rating system sucks or is non-existent.

Above you can see there are so many to choose from, a regular consumer being presented with all these options can be overwhelmed. But from researching and looking at smart tv over the years, I’ve come to realize that the best option out there right now when it comes to a smart tv is…. not to get a smart tv, I would recommend getting a regular tv with no smart capabilities (if you can find one) and adding am external box to that tv.

Some of the boxes you can currently add to a tv to enhance or make it into a smart tv are:

  • Roku Streaming Boxes
  • Tivo
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast

These are just a few, but if you have to get a smart tv and do not want to add a box to your tv, the best ones i have seen out there comes from the television manufacturer Vizio who has the snappiest, most elegant and clean interface so far for a smart tv.

So next time you go out looking for a tv, have fun playing around with all that is available before settling on one.