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Samsung Smart TV platform review

John Archer

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  • Recommended by TR
Samsung Smart TV platform

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Lots of content
  • Plenty of video streaming
  • Mostly excellent interface

Cons

  • A lot of the secondary apps are rubbish
  • Not all Samsung's Smart TVs carry the full Smart TV platform

Key Features

  • LoveFilm
  • BBC iPlayer
  • AceTrax
  • Twitter & Facebook
  • Skype on some models
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: free/subscription

In many ways, Samsung’s Smart TV service is the one to beat. For starters, it’s got for us the best interface of any of the online platforms in the shape of the Smart Hub. This graphically intensive, icon-based interface is actually the TV’s default menu, and does a mostly excellent job of presenting you with lots of information without appearing over-cluttered. It also provides a universal search tool that lets you look for content everywhere, including on the Internet.

What’s particularly impressive about Samsung’s Smart Hub is that it works quickly and slickly, and gives more or less equal weight to both your ‘normal’ TV sources - like the tuner and AV inputs - and Samsung’s streamed content. This shows a good understanding of the balanced way most end users will likely treat content in the Smart TV era.

Samsung’s Smart Hub also makes it more likely that users will find and thus use more of the platform’s apps - a particularly important point for Samsung’s system given how many online services it supports. In fact, once you’ve added together its many video streaming services, music services and smaller, infotainment apps, it’s currently got the widest and most varied selection of content of any Smart TV platform.

Samsung Smart TV platform

There are some notable highlights among all this content too. LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer, Acetrax, Facebook, Twitter, Google Chat, an exclusive and surprisingly well-stocked 3D ‘channel’, Blinkbox, YouTube, The Cartoon Network, Daily Motion and Box Office 365 are just a few of the Samsung services we can imagine people using regularly.

Despite scoring a hit with both its presentation and some aspects of its content, though, Samsung’s Smart TV service certainly isn’t perfect. In particular we question the ‘quality control’ Samsung applies to its apps approval process. For while most of the video services are useful, many of the smaller apps range between pointless and ridiculous.

Of course, you don’t have to use these smaller apps if you don’t want to. But actually they tend to clutter up some corners of the interface, and generally dilute the sense of quality from the platform as a whole.

Another issue we have with Samsung Smart TV right now is that it doesn’t have as many free catchup services as we’d like.

Our final cause for concern with Samsung’s service is that it splits its Smart TV features across different levels in its range. So while Samsung’s top-end TVs have Skype and a built-in Web browser, Samsung’s entry-level Smart TVs do not. Given that no other brand currently splits its Smart TV features in this way, we feel that Samsung’s approach could prove too confusing to a public only just getting used to the idea of Smart TV functionality.

Still, while the Samsung Smart TV can certainly be improved, it seems to represent the most likely blueprint for where we expect Smart TV to go over the next couple of years.

Overall Score

9

andjwoo

November 18, 2012, 6:10 am

Having been a user of Samsung Smart TV for a few months now I have to say I find it very hard to agree with this review. In theory it all sounds great but, Smart TV has fallen well short of my expectations. Let's start with the apps that I use the most.

The YouTube app, until a recent update, did not support any fast forward or rewind, the current version, at time of writing, is slightly better but it's not what I would call a fully functioning feature. Playlist support is also very poor, one cannot select a video from a playlist without starting to play the first video in the playlist (this becomes very irritating with use). To sign into to your YouTube account you need to activate via a browser with a code. This is clearly not a problem, until you get asked to do this on a regular basis (I am on my fourth activation). I gather that this may be a known technical issue.

BBC iPlayer looks great but, again it is functionally lacking, fast forward and rewind is not smooth it is in increments like the YouTube app (I believe it's in 1 minute jumps). Categories are poorly defined making finding content difficult and time consuming e.g. the factual category is not sub categorised (the BBC make a lot of factual programmes!).

Now onto DLNA support – I'm struggling to find a single file type that Smart TV will play from my PC. Most disappointingly it does not play Windows Recorded TV Show files (wtv) via DLNA.

I do agree with the review in that most of the other "apps" are a complete waste of time.

I could go on, for example I have had issues pairing my Samsung S3 to the TV and with AllShare to name but a couple.

I have to compare my experience with Smart TV to the equivalent from Sony (which I have on a Sony Blu Ray player and PS3). Despite the comparatively lack lustre and clunky interface of Sony at least the iPlayer and YouTube apps are usable. I would argue the availability of other video content is also better on Sony but, I guess that's more of a personal preference. DLNA file type support in my experience is also far better and at least Sony support Windows Recorded TV files.

Bottom line: I believe Samsung Smart TV is, at present, style over substance and has a long way to go to deliver against the promise.

jimmcc

January 10, 2013, 9:02 pm

My experience is similar to andjwoo. When the Samsung Smart TV connects, it's fine most of the time. However, it became so difficult to connect, I called Samsung. They said they're aware of many problems with their SmartHub and plan to add a server but they have no idea when that will happen. Then, as an afterthought, they said "actually, the SmartHub application is down for updating".

I'll either return the TV or add a Sony Blu-ray. I've never had any problem connecting with that.

filippo

October 30, 2013, 11:58 pm

My experience is terrible. Facebook app does not work at all, I have never been able to login, sometimes the login form simply does not appear at all and the app crashes. Believe me, I have updated the firmware to the latest version, it is the same. Many basic apps like the browser or youtube are totally crap.

My feeling is that it is not only a software problem but the hardware is very cheap and not able to give any good performance. For instance, it is almost impossible to visualize a video in full HD from the youtube app and this is not related with the internet connection because I have a super fast one.

The wireless keyboard is useless, the touchpad impossible to use, the usability of the whole product is ridiculous! My advice is to not buy this crap! It is a huge waste of money! I have tried to contact with the support center and I always got no help at all! I attach here one of the chat I had with them:

You are connecting with LiveChat system. If it takes a few minute, Please Try again.

(Vårt web team er straks i kontakt med deg.)

Et medlem av vårt web-team vil være tilgjengelig snart. Du står nå i kø 1 takk for at du venter. Hvis din henvendelse gjelder et kjøpt produkt, vennligst ha produktdetaljer, serienummer og kjøpsdato klare.

Velkommen til Samsung Live Chat. Hva kan jeg hjelpe deg med?

Beps :

Hei!

Filippo Sanfilippo :

hi, could you please speak English?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

hey

Beps :

Yes

Filippo Sanfilippo :

thanks, I have a problem with my new tv, model UE55ES6545U

Filippo Sanfilippo :

facebook and the social apps are not working

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I cannot login

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I have already updated to the last available firmware

Filippo Sanfilippo :

2.1.0.12031_10

Filippo Sanfilippo :

when I open the facebook app, the tv stops on the first view. It only shows the facebook logo on the left top corner

Filippo Sanfilippo :

then nothing happens

Filippo Sanfilippo :

same problems happens also with twuitter

Beps :

Is it a application or via the webbrowser ?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

it is the application

Beps :

We do not support the application ... So if it doesn't work you have to contact facebook / twitter ..

Beps :

But you can try to reset the smarthub

Filippo Sanfilippo :

also when I try to link my facebook account to my samsung account I get the following message: unable to connect to the server

Filippo Sanfilippo :

really?!? do not support it? but u sell it?

Beps :

We dont sell the facebook app

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I have tried to reset the hub several times

Filippo Sanfilippo :

samsung sell the tv with the hub as a feature

Beps :

It's installed yes but it is not under our control.

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I bough the tv considering this feature

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I tried this combination

Filippo Sanfilippo :

FF+1+8+2+1

Filippo Sanfilippo :

but nothing changed

Beps :

Other apps work fine right ?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

almost, sometimes the hub crashes with no reasons

Filippo Sanfilippo :

also, some entries usually disappear from the menu just randomly

Beps :

Have you tried to reset the TV

Beps :

?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

yes, several times

Filippo Sanfilippo :

how can I link my samsung account with my facebook account? can you do it from your server?

Beps :

No I can't do it.. But why do you wanna link them together ?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

because if I select "account manager"

Filippo Sanfilippo :

pressing the "c" on the remote

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I get this option "link to other account"

Filippo Sanfilippo :

and facebook is on this list

Filippo Sanfilippo :

well, when I try to link it and I enter username and password I get the error message

Filippo Sanfilippo :

Unable to connect to the server

Beps :

If that is the error message , then you have a server issue.

Beps :

For how long have you had this problem ?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

since ever

Filippo Sanfilippo :

it never worked

Filippo Sanfilippo :

do you support "social tv"

Filippo Sanfilippo :

?

Beps :

If you have tried the reset smarthub and reset TV , and have tha latest update. And it still doesn't work you should call 815 56 480 for service.

Beps :

the*

Beps :

It is Samsung Support aswell.

Filippo Sanfilippo :

is this number free of charge?

Beps :

No but we dont take extra charge , it depends on your provider.

Filippo Sanfilippo :

one last question

Filippo Sanfilippo :

even if I select "memorize password" and "auto login"

Filippo Sanfilippo :

every time a turn off the tv and then on again the system forgets my account

Filippo Sanfilippo :

how can I fix this?

Beps :

I would say reset but since you've already tried that and it still doesn't work theres nothing else we can try.

Beps :

It must be something wrong somewhere.

Filippo Sanfilippo :

how can I reset it?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

maybe I should try again

Filippo Sanfilippo :

please suggest me how I should reset it step by step

Beps :

Aha I tought you did that. Menu > Customer support > Selfdiagnose > Reset > PinCode : 000

Beps :

0

Beps :

0000*

Filippo Sanfilippo :

I did it already, but I will try it again

Beps :

Okey, try it and let me know if it worked or not.

Beps :

New agent have been assigned. Please wait until the chat start.

Velkommen til Samsung Live Chat. Hva kan jeg hjelpe deg med?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

done

Filippo Sanfilippo :

again, nothing changed

Filippo Sanfilippo :

are you still here?

Silje :

You have gotten a new agent on this case now. I have seen on the conversation so far and must say that the only other option is to se that your network conection is good

Silje :

can you browse? go on the internet?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

yes, it works

Filippo Sanfilippo :

youtube and other net apps work

Silje :

so it is onöy facebook and what other apps?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

twitter as well

Filippo Sanfilippo :

and "social tv"

Silje :

og denne aplikasjonen fant de ved å söke den opp på smarthub?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

can u please speak english?

Silje :

sorry, and this aplication you found on smarthub? by searchin in smart hub? and not threw the web?

Filippo Sanfilippo :

from the smart hub

Silje :

i am sorry, there is not more we can do here and you would problably need a service. call us on 815 56 480

Filippo Sanfilippo :

ok, thanks

Paul Walsh

October 31, 2013, 12:17 pm

I have 4 of the the last two generations of Samsung TV'as and just bought the new one recently. I have just ordered 8 more for my office. I am the founder of a software company. I have to say that in my experience Samsung make lovely hardware, BUT there software is terrible. The only time software is OK is on the smartphones when they have partnered with Android. That.s what these TV need. This generation is better but still lacks in many ways. To give you an idea the iPlayer app on last years model would only show the play button the first time you then had to reboot the TV to get it back this fundamental bug took 6 months to fix....laughable. But still the best hardware, just turn off the gimmicks like voice control and hand gesture they will just annoy you.

Sam

December 2, 2013, 7:07 pm

can we plug ps3 in it?

Rollin

December 6, 2013, 12:46 am

I have had my Smart TV for about a year. I bought it only to watch Netflix movies rather than use my blu ray to stream movies. The Netflix app on this TV is little more than junk. Streaming moves has never worked well. Movies are frequently dropped requiring me to login to Netflix with my email address and password on an awkward keyboard menu. Movies can often not be rated, which does not allow my rating to be used by Netflix in it's automatic movie title menu. (In case you haven't assumed it, I think Netflix is great. For little more than $8.00 per month, thousands of moves become available (not that you can watch them if you have a Samsung TV, however).
The TV has had a new motherboard installed and that did not help. When the warranty tech called Samsung in search of an answer, he has waited three days for a reply.
When I called Samsung, I was transferred to a tech who said he could connect to my TV. During the wait, the call was dropped. When I called again and my call was being transferred to the tech department, I was again cut off. When I called the third time, a recording told me that due to the number of calls Samsung was receiving, I should call later.
Obviously, I would not recommend buying a Samsung Smart TV. I should also add that the processor in the TV is incredibly slow. I can't imagine surfing the Web with this thing.

Peter Cheung

January 14, 2014, 1:50 am

If you are thinking about buying a Samsung Smart TV, think twice. I bought a Samsung Smart TV and it lasted only for 25 months and the Screen burnt out.. I paid $39.55 to an authorised service centre and found that the cost to replace the screen panel is $1145 plus tax - more expensive than buying a brand new smart TV. I ended up paying half the replacing cost to get a brand new Phillips Smart TV instead.

Punk

January 29, 2014, 7:11 pm

Same here but with LG Smart TV.

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