Samsung cunningly snaffled a temporary exclusive deal with Yahoo Widgets back at the start of 2009, effectively kicking off the online TV 'war'. This led to it delivering arguably the best online service last year, but it’s not perhaps kicked on quite as much in 2010 - yet!! - as we might have hoped.
One early bone of contention we have with the platform is that it seems considerably slower to update than its rival platforms. Thank goodness 'deep' updates shouldn’t happen all that often.
Turning to the interface for Samsung’s Internet@TV, it doesn’t look as slick as most things the Korean giant does. On the upside, the TV picture you were watching continues to play in the top left corner, but the graphics look dated and the decision to put widgets and full services on the same page ends up making things feel cluttered - a problem that’s probably only likely to get worse as more content is added.
We actually have quite fond memories of last year’s Samsung online interface, which superimposed the admittedly much more limited online features over the TV picture while you continued to watch.
Leading the latest online feature-set off is a constant across our article: YouTube. The interface for this in Samsung’s case is decent if unspectacular.
Unique to Samsung, meanwhile, is the rovi TV listings platform. You might wonder if this is really necessary on a TV with a digital tuner/electronic programme guide, but actually rovi’s interactivity makes it a reasonably useful addition.
Our next two features are probably the real meat and drink of the Internet@TV platform, though: LoveFilm and the BBC iPlayer. LoveFilm allows you to sync the TV to a LoveFilm account and downstream full feature films to your TV. Setting all this up is straightforward and finding your way around the service works well. We didn’t experience any major downloading problems either.
The BBC iPlayer is, of course, already pretty much legendary in multimedia circles, and it has been well implemented on Internet@TV. The service works phenomenally quickly when it comes to finding content, and the video streaming is mostly immaculate. There’s a touch of stutter every now and then, and the pictures aren’t the sharpest around. But it’s still a super-slick and genuinely useful platform that really adds to Internet@TV’s overall usefulness.
Samsung just loves its social media, apparently. So as well as Twitter, you also get Facebook access, so twice as many people can find out what fabulous and wonderful lives you’re pretending you lead.
Also available is the DailyMotion platform noted on other online TV systems in this article, a BetFair app enabling you to place bets on games you are watching via your TV, Skype via an optional extra web camera, Google Maps allowing you to see street maps and plan routes, Picasa again, and Getty Images, which lets you put on slide shows - with pre-provided music - of artworks stored by Getty. A fancy screensaver, in other words.
Wrapping things up are a series of smaller services, based on Yahoo Widgets, including short news feeds from USA Today, The History Channel, and AccuWeather, plus a variety of basic games including Sudoku, Texas Hold’em, and slightly more interestingly, Chess.
One last thing to say here is that as well as being very slow to update, we had a number of updating problems while testing the Samsung service on a 40C7000. This may be because our 40C7000 was one of the earliest models to hit the UK, but if you’ve experienced similar issues with a current Samsung model you’ve got, feel free to share this in the Comments section!
Considered from all angles, Samsung’s online efforts score highly on content, but suffer a little on ease and speed of use.