Samsung 2013 Smart TV platform – Part 2

Score

Pros

  • Recommendation system is very clever
  • Graphics throughout are gorgeous
  • Scope of the control and search options is remarkable

Cons

  • Streaming menu doesn't cover all content platforms
  • Second screen support is over-complicated
  • Voice and gesture control still prone to error

Key Features

  • Multiple Home Screens
  • It can learn your viewing habits
  • Gesture and voice control support
  • Extensive second screen support
  • Lots of video streaming options

This is Part 2 of our review of Samsung’s 2013 Smart TV Platform. Click here to read Part 1 of this review.

Introduction

The

final homescreen of Samsung’s all-new 2013 Smart TV Platform is

altogether more useful than the Social homescreen that we mentioned at

the end of part one of this two-part

review. The reason for this is that it provides you with a beautifully presented window of all

the apps you have installed on the TV, as well as a simple link to all

the further apps stored on Samsung’s servers that you can download if

you wish. It’s simple, neat and effective.

Samsung 2013 Smart TV Platform – Apps Home Screen

In

fact, the Apps homescreen quickly became our most used menu, as we

found it to offer more straightforward access to the likes of the BBC

iPlayer, Love Film, Netflix, Facebook and Twitter – making it much more

handy and direct a route to the specific content we wanted than the

Social and Movies & TV Shows homescreens.

Especially of note

here is the discovery of an interesting Social TV app that allows you

to Tweet, Skype or Facebook while still watching TV – exactly the sort

of thing we wanted the Social homescreen to do!

Samsung Smart TV interface

Considering

Samsung’s new multiple homescreen system as a whole, our overall

feeling is that while it’s unfeasibly clever, it’s also a bit

inscrutable. The TV does so much automatically, behind the scenes, that

it can actually leave you feeling lost at times.

Couple this with

the fact that, unlike Panasonic’s My Home Screen system, there’s very

little scope for customisation, and you’re ultimately left feeling like

you’re battling with a system that makes perfect sense to Samsung

engineers but has gone beyond something a normal end user can fully

appreciate.

Samsung 2013 Smart TV Platform – The Evolution Kit

At

this point we should mention Samsung’s unique Evolution Kit system.

Introduced initially with last year’s ES8000 and ES7000 TVs, we weren’t

entirely clear about what the Evolution Kits might deliver at the time.

Now that the first ones have appeared for the ES models though, we can

say that they’re actually rather brilliant, as they allow you to update

your TV in full with the next generation of interface as Samsung makes

it available. In a TV world that’s changing as fast as the current one,

this sort of future-proofing is hugely attractive.

Our next port

of call with Samsung’s new interface is the different systems Samsung

has provided this year for finding your way through all of its complex

menus and home pages. The ‘headline grabbers’ here are undoubtedly the

second generation versions of the gesture and voice control systems

Samsung introduced to much fanfare – but a relatively tepid critical

reaction – last year.

Samsung Smart TV interface

Both

systems have been much improved. Where the gesture system is concerned,

the TV’s built-in camera recognises the little wave of your hand needed

to activate the system more readily than last year, and the cursor

responds to movements of your hands much more tightly. Being able to

‘air swipe’ through lists of icons and the five main Home Screens just

by swishing your hand in front of you is a great touch, and you don’t

need to move your hand and arm over that much distance to achieve

significant moves of the cursor.

Samsung 2013 Smart TV Platform – Gesture and Voice Controls

Finally,

the new gesture system is mercifully much more forgiving when it comes

to the degree of leeway it gives you when you’re trying to select an

on-screen option.

As for the voice system, the biggest improvement

concerns the engine’s ‘vocabulary’ level. While you had to bark rather

stilted commands at last year’s equivalent TVs, this time round the

system can parse much more complicated sentences, with the effect that

you’re able to talk to your TV far more naturally than you could before.

Also important is the shift in the focus of the voice

recognition system towards content searching rather than merely

operating the TV. This makes total sense, as having a system that’s able

to respond to a phrase like ‘Show me Angelina Jolie movies’ by

generating lists of all the films it can find with Jolie in from a scan

of all its various content bases is clearly much more useful and

time-saving than simply being able to say ‘volume up’ or ‘channel up’.

Samsung Smart TV interface

Both

systems have been much improved. Where the gesture system is concerned,

the TV’s built-in camera recognises the little wave of your hand needed

to activate the system more readily than last year, and the cursor

responds to movements of your hands much more tightly. Being able to

‘air swipe’ through lists of icons and the five main Home Screens just

by swishing your hand in front of you is a great touch, and you don’t

need to move your hand and arm over nearly as far a distance to achieve

significant moves of the cursor.