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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Obviously we’re aware that this feature will to some extent be out of date even by the time we’ve finished writing it, given that online services are being upgraded on an almost daily basis, Google TVs will be arriving in a few months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...

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