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.
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.