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

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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.

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.

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.

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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