- It looks attractive enough
- Its Web browser is good
- Content levels are alarmingly low
- The interface will struggle as content levels rise
- It doesn't even have the iPlayer yet
- Cartoon Network
- Box Office 365
- HiT Entertainment
Despite being another member of the new Smart TV ‘power group’ featuring LG and Philips, Sharp’s AQUOS Net online service is currently the weakest we’ve looked at. Its biggest surprise is the appearance of the Net TV logo in its bottom corner – a clear indication that Sharp hasn’t really bothered putting together its own proprietary online service but has instead just ‘licensed’ one from Philips.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself given that Net TV is one of the more attractively presented platforms and features a particularly good Internet browser. It’s also possible that we will see an increasing ‘homogenisation’ of the Smart TV platforms offered by Sharp, Philips and LG as their recent content-sharing agreement starts to kick up a few gears.
However, it doesn’t take long to see that Sharp’s adaptation of Net TV is actually a stripped back version, failing to provide as many services. Even the BBC iPlayer wasn’t there on the 60in Sharp model we called in to help us with this feature, making AQUOS Net the only mainstream Smart TV platform apparently still not offering this service.
Plumping for NetTV as its service to clone, meanwhile, means that AQUOS Net also suffers from the lack of structure noted in our discussion of the Philips platform, with no attempt to organise the services available by genre. This isn’t a big deal at the moment, but will become one as more content finally roles in.
What we’d really like to see from Sharp, though, is a system of its own invention – albeit one built around content shared with its Smart TV partners. After all, Sharp has done enough interesting things with its onscreen menu systems over the years to make us think it could rustle up something rather nice for the Smart TV interface era too.