Samsung Smart TV 2015 Review - Interface, Performance and Verdict Review

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Samsung Tizen Smart TV 2015 – Interface

The new icon-based,

overlaid onscreen menus are a vast improvement over last year’s Samsung

efforts, and now make using the TV’s smart features feel like an

integral part of the TV experience rather than a completely separate

domain.

We guess you could argue that Tizen’s look is like a

less characterful and, in truth, slightly less flexible version of LG’s

WebOS engine, but there’s not really much harm in that. It does feel at

the moment as if a little something is missing from the Tizen experience

– possibly the Recommendations engine Samsung claims it will be adding

in the coming months. But overall Tizen confirms the feeling we got when

we first saw WebOS that this sort of overlaid icons,

treat-everything-as-an-app approach is surely the way ahead for Smart

TVs.

SEE ALSO: Best HD, 3D and 4K TVs 2015

Turning to that other key part of any smart TV interface –

the remote control – we find Samsung again in much improved form. At

least where the brand’s new ‘smart’ remote control is concerned; the

secondary one you get alongside the smart one with most of Samsung’s

smart TVs has a rather old-fashioned, button-heavy layout and

depressingly lightweight build quality. It makes precious little effort,

either, to organise itself in a way that reflects modern Smart TV use.

Samsung Smart TV 2015

The

new Smart TV remote, on the other hand, feels vastly more in tune with

modern TV usage – so much so that you’ve got to think that pretty soon

it might be the only remote Samsung ships with its Smart TVs.
For

starters it features a massively stripped-down button count, providing

only the keys that consumer research suggests modern users most want to

use. Particularly striking is the way the coloured Smart button for the

Tizen home hub is positioned by itself below all the other buttons,

making it effortless to find even in a dark room.

Samsung Smart TV 2015

The

smart remote’s layout is also very intuitive in the way it sensibly not

only provides two alternative control systems – each suited to

different areas of usage – but also makes sure each of these systems

gets its own area on the handset, to prevent you mixing the two up.

Towards the centre of the handset is a fairly traditional left, right,

up and down set of menu navigation buttons, while in a separate zone

above, between the volume and programme change buttons, is a nifty

point-and-click system. Just gently rest your finger on the pointer

button and you get to control a cursor just by pointing the remote at

the part of the screen you want to interact with.

The improved

layout of Samsung’s latest smart remote owes much to Samsung’s decision

to remove the touch pad control option present on Samsung’s smart

remotes for the previous couple of years. This seems an eminently

sensible move to us, as the touch pad always felt rather fiddly and

imprecise.

Samsung Smart TV 2015

The

only significant issue we have with the new Smart Remote is the way

that the onscreen cursor doesn’t always seem to be in the right place

when you’re using the point and click control system. This is because it

always reappears at the point on the screen where it was when you last

stopped using it rather than popping up at the part of the screen where

you’re actually pointing the remote. The cursor always tracks the line

of motion of the handset accurately, but the lack of direct correlation

between your pointing direction and the cursor position is sometimes

disconcerting.

To finish on a high note, one neat touch we

haven’t previously referred to is the addition of contextual menu

options at the centre of each edge of the screen when you’re in point

and click mode, providing you with handy shortcuts to things such as

programme listings, volume controls or smart menus. This is a great

touch that suggests that Samsung has genuinely tried to road-test its

Smart TV system for this year, rather than just piling on the features

regardless of the interface’s ability to deal with them.

Samsung Tizen Smart TV 2015 – Performance

When we first started

using the new Tizen OS a month or two ago it ran rather sluggishly and

was buggy to say the least. Thankfully, now the system runs smoothly and responds quickly to your inputs –

so long as you give it a few seconds to ‘boot up’ properly after

turning the TV on. What’s more, the latest running speed

seems to hold up on Samsung Quad Core TVs such as the UE48JU7000T as well

as the Octa-core UE65JS9500 and UE65JS9000.

There

are far fewer bugs now too – though it has to be said

that the Tizen system still feels like a bit of a work in progress in

this respect. During our tests we experienced a few occasions when

certain apps wouldn’t boot properly, simply offering a message

suggesting that we try again later. Also, a couple of times the

system seemed to get stuck in an ‘update loop’, where we couldn’t

download new apps or open some other apps because, according to the TV,

it was eternally updating the smart hub.

We should add, in

fairness, that Samsung was unable to replicate these issues at its own

laboratories, but they certainly happened to us using the same test room

and broadband connection we use for all of our TV tests without usually

suffering such problems.

It’s

worth adding, too, that Tizen may challenge the patience of people with

slow broadband speeds, as it seems to require more and larger updates

than most smart systems we’ve seen before. Though as with the other

issues we’ve mentioned, we expect the regularity of the updates to

reduce as the system becomes more bedded in.

SEE ALSO: Best Value TVs 2015: Which Should You Buy?

Verdict

Samsung

has made great smart TV strides with the introduction of its Tizen

system. It’s quicker, far slicker and much more focused on stuff a TV

viewer actually wants a smart TV to offer than Samsung’s previous smart

engines.

That said, right now it feels a bit incomplete. We

suffered a few bugs during our tests and also felt as if something was

missing on the feature front – probably the in-the-works content

recommendation system.

These issues will likely be addressed in the

coming weeks and months, however, and you have to applaud Samsung for

being willing to jettison its clunky old smart ways and

for being brave enough to shift its smart focus from pushing the

quantity of apps it carries to pushing the quality of the user

experience.

Score


Score in detail

  • Features 8
  • Design 9