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Best Smart TV services

John Archer

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If 2010 and 2011 have been the years of 3D - so far as the manufacturers have been concerned, at least! - then it seems likely that the 2012 TV world will be dominated by Smart functionality.

‘Connected’ TV features have been around for just as long as 3D, of course. But they took a quantum leap forward for many brands in 2011, and from what we saw at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, they’re going to leap even further in the course of 2012.

It’s also starting to look increasingly apparent that some brands, at least, see exclusive Smart TV features as a potential major source of commercial advantage in an increasingly tough market, so for better or - more likely - worse, we will probably increasingly see some services only available on a particular brand’s Smart platforms.

To set the scene for what we expect to be a year of massive change in the Smart TV world, we thought we’d get a handle on the state of Smart TV play by looking at all the big brands’ current Smart platforms in one hit, one after another, to help you figure out which system seems best suited to your needs and to try and figure out who’s best poised to take Smart TV to the next level in the coming months.

Obviously we’re aware that this feature will to some extent be out of date even by the time we’ve finished writing it, given that online services are being upgraded on an almost daily basis, Google TVs will be arriving in a few months and there may even be a proper Apple iTV before the year is out. But well, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Samsung Smart TV platform
Samsung's current 'Smart TV' platform has huge amounts of content - but is any of that content any good?
Sony Bravia Smart TV
Sony's concentration on video sources once gave its Bravia Internet Video platform a clear edge over its rival Smart TV systems. But is it still setting the pace as we settle into 2012?
Panasonic Viera Connect Smart TV platform
Panasonic's Viera Connect Smart TV service has been a slow burner, but it's now poised to become a major player.
LG Smart TV platform
LG can probably claim to have the most improved Smart TV system of any AV brand in the past 12 months. But there is a price to pay for the service's sudden explosion in content...
Toshiba Places
Toshiba was late arriving at the Smart TV party, and in some ways its tardiness still shows. But there are also a few welcome signs of innovation.
Philips NetTV platform
Philips has made its NetTV online system look nice, but now it needs to focus on boosting the amount of content it carries.
Sharp Aquos Net smart TV platform
Sharp has joined forces with Philips for its online TV services. But it's all a bit half-hearted, to be honest.
Sony Google TV Boxes
After a lengthy demo of Sony's upcoming Google TV set top boxes, we're not entirely convinced they're the way forward...

Paul W

February 12, 2012, 3:22 am

One recent example of Samsung's two tier Smart TV platform is that Netflix is only available on Series 7 and upwards TVs. Those, like me, on Series 5 & 6 TVs unfortunately can't access it, which is a pain if I ever sign up.

What I'd like from Smart TVs going forward, is most Apps/VoD platforms being available regardless of which TV manufacturer you pick. It'd be great if you could choose your TV and be guaranteed access to all four VoD platforms: iPlayer, 4oD, Demand 5, ITV player. As it stands it's down to pot luck what VoD services you get.

It'll also be interesting if YouView manages to shake things up. When I had my TiVo, I didn't use my Smart TV as I could access all the Apps/VoD on my TiVo. I wonder if YouView will make Smart TVs similarly redundant?

PeteS007

May 22, 2012, 5:46 am

I am not sure what exactly LG improved on their smart platform, but from what I have seen on LM760T, I like it very much. My Smart hub is well-organized and it is very easy to access and navigate using the "magic motion" remote. The current number of apps available is impressive, but I wouldn't say that more is better. I like that LG's smart hub has the most useful applications in the "premium apps" section.

Arvin

May 22, 2012, 7:31 am

I feel like Samsung smart platform is a bit overrated. Their biggest disadvantage is what I would call, "smart segregation". The gap between high-end models and low/middle end models isn't justified in the price differential. The mediocre apps, platform, and slightly better speed are not enough for me.

tedmathew90

June 4, 2012, 1:57 pm

Judging from the fact that LG got the best award at CES-2012 in Las Vegas, and the 2012 Silver Edison award in New York with their Cinema 3D Smart tech, I think LG Electronics deserve to be ranked first. Not only that, I love my Smart TV in my living room for its simplicity and comfortability. It also saved me some dough compared to a Samsung Smart TV.
Source: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/...

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