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Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update review

John Archer

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Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update
  • Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update

Summary

In the course of testing TVs over the past few weeks, it’s struck us that some of the main TV brands have introduced some fairly major upgrades to their online TV services. So we thought it was worth presenting a run-down of what’s new in the fast-changing online TV world.

Philips

As well as sharpening up the front end of its NetTV online service, Philips has introduced lots of extra content in the past couple of weeks. The most intriguing new discovery is the ‘App Gallery’. Previously Philips hadn’t shown any particular signs of going the App route (even though many of the services we’ve discussed in earlier features were, essentially, apps), but it’s now clear that it feels that organising and offering extra content via the app model is the way ahead.

There’s some interesting new stuff you can opt to add to your online functions via the new App Gallery, too. First there’s the CineTrailer app, which lets you watch trailers of all the latest films coming out at the cinema or on home video. This is sourced from France, but the trailers appeared in English, with respectable video quality.

There’s also an app for the Foreca weather service, offering global coverage, and rather more interestingly an app for buying stuff on eBay. This doesn’t just dump you into a browser either, but rather provides a rather streamlined way to navigate and use the eBay site via your TV.

Also well worthwhile is the tunin.fm internet radio ‘server’, and an app for using Twitter via your TV. Wrapping things up on the interesting new app front are online photo storage site MyAlbum and iConcerts, which offers streamed footage from archived concerts. You do generally only get a single song from each concert though, so the service seems more of an advert for the full online iConcert website rather than a true service in itself.

Another new ‘app’ deemed so useful that it’s automatically presented on the new NetTV Home page is TomTom. Although this is a little tortuous to navigate around, it’s actually pretty phenomenal in terms of how much information it presents about the ongoing state of traffic round the UK. Also impressive is how up to date the information appeared to be during our time checking the service.

Elsewhere, Philips has even improved the front end of its Opera open Web browser, making favourites easier to get to.

One final new app worth mentioning is an interactive tutorial designed to help you get the best from the Philips TVs. This seems very worthwhile, actually, given that one of our main complaints against Philips’ frequently excellent TVs is that they can be pretty tough to get the best out of.

We should say that the new NetTV platform seemed a little unstable during our tests, suffering a few crashes and ‘error’ messages. But these issues will doubtless be ironed out over time. We hope.

moose56

December 28, 2010, 12:38 pm

As the owner of a Panasonic TV I have to look with envy at practically every other manufactures online content offering. Panasonic seem to be really weak in this area.

SRS

December 28, 2010, 5:01 pm

Where this will fail is that these companies are still thinking of their devices as TVs with some extra functionality grafted on. And it shows - slow, clunky UIs, terrible ergonomics (try doing anything quickly with the supplied remotes), poor software and next to no software updates and improvements people now expect.





They should really be providing just the panel and image processing technology and let others step in for the media provisioning and management.

Ash

December 28, 2010, 6:31 pm

Good article. I have been telling colleages at work, smart TVs are going to be the next big thing, just like smartphone. It will get more exciting when you start seeing Android, Meego and Apple iOS based products, with the same possiblities as on smartphones and an explosion of apps. The current range of 'connected TV' aren't smart enought IMO, I would compare them to feature phones...

wakeyjamie

December 28, 2010, 11:40 pm

Interesting but i think you've been a bit unfair leaving Samsung out of the list. We bought a Samsung UE32C6530 a couple of months ago and the internet@TV stuff is absolutely brilliant. The iplayer is a joy to use and supports HD streaming. And youtube, lovefilm, acetrax and Muzu.tv are all genuinely useful and worth having.

Powerful

December 29, 2010, 11:05 am

Thanks for this. It would be good to have a regular update of online content - say monthly or so.





On Sony content: The new BBC iPlayer is still only Beta and doesn't show HD content. This is odd since the iPlayer that comes with the Sony BDV players is not Beta, operates faster than the Bravia and does contain HD.





You don't mention Picasa which is new and works well. On the first visit you login to your Picasa web albums and it shows the first 36 albums as tiles - which meant a little Picasa maintenance for me since I had many more than 36 albums on the web. The quality is really excellent. It is the first photo app, including connecting a PC direct to the TV, (that I've seen) that makes my pics watchable on a big (46") screen. To maintain quality the app does not expand the photo to fill the screen which means you need to store your web albums at the higher resolution to fill the screen. Nice one Sony.

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