Sony Smart TV 2014 - Sony Smart TV 2014: SideView App & Verdict

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Sony Smart TV 2014: SideView App

The last aspect of the Sony SEN 2014 platform to consider is how it

works with the new TV SideView app. As with last year, we again found

ourselves marvelling at the presentation of this app. Its home ‘Top

Picks’ screen uses high-res graphic icons for all the programmes it’s

recommending, and scrolling around the programme suggestions works as

smooth as silk. Naturally you can connect your smart device to the TV

via Wi-Fi direct, so that if you choose a programme from the suggestions

on the smart app your TV will switch to the programme you’ve chosen.

It’s

worth adding that the SideView app syncs with your TV’s tuned TV

channels to make its programme browsing and selection features more

effective.

Choosing

a programme also generates in the SideView app an option to ‘Love’ it

via an icon at the bottom right of the app screen. Using this can help

the TV learn more quickly the sort of content you like. When you find a

particularly interesting programme, moreover, the SideView app lets you

send a ‘let’s watch together’ Facebook message to friends.

The

app also provides more information on the selected programme, and lets

you sign in to Twitter to tweet about the show. Scrolling left from the

show Information screen in the app also shows a list of related content

selected from the upcoming listings of your selected programme service.

This works surprisingly well, and so is a welcome touch.
2014 SEN Platform
Heading

into the app’s menus, meanwhile, provides options for calling up a more

standard type of programme guide for surfing listings without

interrupting viewing on your main TV, you can search for programmes, you

can access your list of recorded content and timer setting list, you

can explore the content on your home network rather than having to do

this on the TV screen, you can access your social news feed, you can use

your smart device as a remote control, or finally you can use a rather

rudimentary voice command system.

It’s

all pretty impressive, really, and beautifully designed and slick. The

only disappointment – though it is a pretty severe one – is that Sony

still doesn’t let you share programmes shown on your TV screen with your

smart devices. Samsung and Panasonic both offer this service on their

Smart TVs.

Other things to consider

While Sony has

speeded things up from last year, there are still times when the latest

SEN feels a bit sluggish. We noted in the text that it can take an

unfeasibly long time for the correct TV show images to load on the

Channel home page, and one or two of the other menus sometimes seem a

little sluggish too.

Another oddity is that the set we tested

didn’t seem very on the ball with auto-updating its internet content

list. Regularly we found we had to manually delve into the set’s menus

and find the Refresh Internet Content menu option before the set would

open up a full list of all the services available.

There were

also issues with the stability of the SEN connection during our tests,

in that quite often the TV failed to generate a full list of content

options, seemingly with no obvious rhyme or reason over why sometimes

links appeared and why at other times they vanished. This is rather

reminiscent of our long-term experience with last year’s SEN TVs, and is

something Sony needs to work on.

Should I buy a 2014 Sony Smart TV?

The

latest SEN is a much more engaging, well-organised and attractively

presented affair than last year’s, making it feel like a much more

relevant and thoughtful companion for today’s connected TV world.

It’s got a couple of unique and really useful features to its name too – alongside one or two more gimmicky ones.

It’s

a pity Sony still doesn’t seem to understand the appeal of

‘second-screen viewing’, but overall we’re impressed with the extent of

the improvements Sony has introduced for 2014.

There are other

smart TV platforms around that look set to offer more in terms of

personalisation and, especially in Samsung’s case, content. But the new

SEN service still offers more than solid smart support for a new Sony TV

range that’s looking likely to be strong on picture quality.

Verdict

Sony has rectified the worst issues with its 2013 smart TVs and produced a very good system that will please most buyers. There’s still room for improvement, however, particularly with its support of catch-up services, personalisation and second screen features. None are quite deal breakers for us, but they might be for you.

Read more about Sony TVs in 2014

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