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back to article World smart TV sales surge

Smart TVs - tellies with internet connectivity - accounted for almost 20 per cent of the televisions that manufacturers shipped in Q1. Almost 30 per cent of them went into Western Europe, but the world's biggest IPTV fans are clearly the Japanese: 46 per cent of the TVs that shipped there were smart devices. Yet Japanese …

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Paris Hilton

Hmmm. I wonder if this is akin to 3DTV. People are buying them not because they want them but because that's all that is available.

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Yep. I'll be buying a new TV soonish. It will be 3D but I probably won't use it. It'll likely be internet enabled but I doubt I'll plug it in. Unless iplayer works well enough to warrant it.

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Silver badge

@ pPPPP

IPlayer works surprisingly well on my two year old Sammy, and the internet linkup is justified for that alone. If you use web streaming of movies likely that'd be good, but not something I use. The set is 3D capable, but I've never used that either.

What would be souper douper would be a proper browser, email client and keyboard. If they can make iPlayer work, doing those two things should be easy enough, but the mainstream set makers are slow on the uptake in that respect, with the the keyboard solutions usually of the homebrew variety, no email client, and a web browser that is so slow to load as to be unusable. I think newer sets are better, with some increasing thought to keyboards and the like, and Apple will no doubt be along soon with a fully featured smart TV with a smart price tag.

I'm wondering about a Raspberry Pi as a way of adding email browser and keyboard for mine, but that's a pipe dream at the moment.

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Bronze badge

Yes, iPlayer seems to work pretty well. Skype on Samsung's SmartTV works very well indeed, though you do have to get Samsung's webcam. To be honest, I think iPlayer and Skype, perhaps a bit of browsing, are the killer apps for a SmartTV. Samsing's SmartTV (and probably others) can also be turned into a PVR - just plug in some USB storage et voila!

I think that what these market figures show is that the manufacturers are pitching the level of sophistication just right. They doing it at a reasonably low cost, and doing just a few things well. That fits how most people purchase a TV. A buyer can justify the extra expense because it's not really that much extra, so it's worth the punt.

I think it should serve as a warning to the likes of Apple and Microsoft - if it's built in it has to be cheap. For example, consider if Apple sold a £500 telly with a £400 mark up for a fancy built in Apple computer. Come upgrade time one might be looking to get a bigger one, so perhaps that'll be £600 worth of telly with another £400 mark up for the Apple bit. And given that the new Apple bit isn't likely to do anything significantly new or revolutionary in comparison to the old one (play films, browse, Skype a bit), you'd just have put £400 in Apple's pocket to to have it built in. Quite a lot of customers wouldn't want to do that.

Another salutary lesson can be found back in the mists of time. Back when DVD players were pricey no one built one in to the telly, despite this perfectly possible. Same with BluRay today. So if Apple TV and whatever MS are thinking off is the 'DVD player of the Internet' then it's probably better off not being in the telly.

To be honest I use a Blackberry Playbook to do my Smart TV thing, remote control it from a Blackberry phone. Works pretty well, does iPlayer, browses very well, 1080p HDMI output, streams music, films, etc. Now if only there were a proper Skype client...

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Anonymous Coward

I have concerns over these smart TV's. Next year (or whenever) iPlayer or one of the other modules will be updated (for whatever reason) and you'll need to upgrade the software.

My question is, how long will they support older TV's? Or in 2/3 years time are you going end up are you going to end with a Dumbed-down TV?

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Good question.

Some years ago I bought what was then quite novel - a freeview PVR. There were only a handful available and you'd think it should be safe buying from a big brand name like Panasonic. The device, when it eventually appeared, was terrible - made Windows look user friendly and bug free ! It took them a year to produce an upgrade which didn't fix all the problems by a long way, and then they abandoned it.

It's something to be wary of - with all this modern digital stuff, you really are at the mercy of the manufacturer to a) get it right, and b) fix what they only thought they'd got right, and c) fix problems caused by changes in what the broadcasters transmit.

Somehow I suspect that if we as a prospective purchaser asked for a letter from the manufacturers, contractually guaranteeing such support for a reasonable time, then we'd get two words - the second being off !

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Silver badge

Media Player

I found it better to just buy a media player. A TV should last for years and I don't expect any updates after a year or so, but for a lot less then the price of a new TV you can buy a media player that works far better then the junk built into the TV anyway. If new features come out you can buy a new media player.

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Meh

"FIRMWARE UPGRADEABLE!" printed on the box

but what they don't tell you is that they stop working on the firmware after a year or two because they have an upgraded product on the market, which is also "FIRMWARE UPGRADEABLE!"...

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Coat

TVs get smarter as programmes get dumber?

There seems to be a correlation

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FAIL

Smart TVs - tellies with internet connectivity - accounted for almost 20 per cent of the televisions that manufacturers shipped in Q1. Shipped is not the same as sales.

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Silver badge

Internet connected != smart

The function of any TV is to be a display monitor for the tuner, DVD-player and other sources of high quality video signals with enough of the user interface to control these functions efficiently and comfortably.

Being connected to the Net is not needed for the above function (and no, the Net is not a suitable source of high quality video signals).

The internet connection is only needed if you are a content provider wishing to extend your own control over what the users can watch, when and how.

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Nev

Re: Internet connected != smart

Good point.

Maybe some TV are not Smart TVs but just Feature TVs.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Internet connected != smart

"the Net is not a suitable source of high quality video signals"

Quite happily streaming HD content from the web over wireless to my TV. Works a treat from a whole range of sources (and of course if you've on cable TV it's all coming through the same pipe anyway).

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Silver badge

Re: Internet connected != smart

HD != high quality.

Youtube has 1080p compressed to hell video. Yes it's HD, no it's not high quality.

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Dumb TV

I'm in the market for a new TV in the next few months, and it seems like you have to get a TV with "Smart" capabilities. I would much rather that the manufacturers concentrated on producing the best quality "dumb" panel as possible - I would then be in control of whatever content I wanted to put on it via whatever means.

Does any such TV even exist? I suspect not. Therefore it seems a pretty pointless exercise to produce this comparison, when really what it is measuring is the percentage of high end to cheaper TV's being sold.

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Re: Dumb TV

I chose mine for combination of size, HD, LED backlighting and thickness (for wall hanging) and ended up with a Samsung smart TV in the Jan sales.

For the detractors- I got the WiFi dongle to and I have to say iPlayer app works surprisingly well even in HD. I have an ordinary broadband connection (in Devon miles from any city). Frankly, I was a bit gobsmacked as I was expecting it to be fairly crap. I only use it occasionally, however, as I dont have unlimited bandwidth so watch mostly from a hard disk recorder.

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Silver badge

Re: Dumb TV

Good quality screens are expensive, arm chips and software are cheap. There is a horrible inevitability about the bundling.

However, I'd rather see plug-in cards for the smarts so I can play with the smart bit while the TV provides the dumb bits. Put the vendor's software on an SD card but let the punters play with their own UIs and software and cpus.

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Silver badge

Smart TVs, stupid buyers

Smart TVs command a premium which simply isn't justifiable. What are the chances the "smart" services will work properly in 3 or 4 years? By then Samsung, Sony, Panasonic et al will have moved several generations forwards with their products and will have no incentive at all to support older models. Services will begin to bitrot or lag behind functionally until you're left with a TV with all kinds of extraneous cruft in its UI which is of no use at all.

It would be smarter to buy a box separate to the TV. If the box becomes obsolete at least you can replace it for an entirely new experience rather than leaving the broken old experience there stinking up the UI.

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Re: Smart TVs, stupid buyers

The "Smart" functionality isn't integral to the basic viewing experience so it effectively sits there just like another set-top box. Even if the manufacturers stop supporting it (and Samsung look they already have on my 6000 series telly - no surprise there), its actually irrelevant. Its would only be important if you relying on the "Smart" functionality for media streaming or VOD or something, and I suspect almost no-one with one of these TVs is (I'm certainly not - I bought it because it has a great picture and a tiny bezel and looks great), as they'll all be plugged into at least one other STB, be it Sky, Cable, Apple TV or whatever.

Waste of effort on the part of the manufacturer? Certainly, but so long as I have lots of spare HDMI ports, I'm not going to worry about it.

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Silver badge

Re: Smart TVs, stupid buyers

The point I'm making is if you buy a smart TV is you're paying a premium for functionality that will bitrot and you cannot get rid of. It may in some cases be off to the side, but it's still there and useless. If you just bought a bog standard TV (one with a nice bezel if you like), without the smart stuff, the difference in price would be enough to buy a decent media player, or streaming box, maybe even a console. All far better value propositions IMO than some poxy bitrot prone widgets baked into the TV set.

The only advantage to smart TVs is that it could overlay widgets over the video content regardless of it coming from an external HDMI or an internal decoder.

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Flame

I refuse to call 'em "smart"...

..until they receive WiFi out of the box rather than requiring a stupid dongle. Grr!

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Bronze badge

I'm not sure that the internet in my part of the world has the capacity for everyone to be using IP-connected TVs. It already goes ultra slow in the evenings,

And I am not sure that the retailers know what they are talking about. If you mention RFC-1149 thay will agree it is compatible.

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Happy

smartish

I have both a PVR & a "smart" TV, with (open) source code. The TV was necessary because the PVR is a PITA. But, it records full HD with no bullshit about what I can or can not copy. The TV is plasma, because I like my blacks to be black. The pictures are fabulous according to user reports. It is 3D but that is useless crap. Watch one dogs race and you will put away the glasses. It could be biger because I like my bigs to be bigger. If you think youtube is the only source of content, you should do a bit of searching, the internet is bigger than youtube. The next TV will be 100" and 300DPI. That leaves the sound. The sound is terrible. Having all this gunk on the LAN is fun. A wall high screen in proper 3D is what we need, Imagine standing at the finish of the 100M with 100% life sized 3D sprinters coming at you... Just thinking, that's all.

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Megaphone

Re: That leaves the sound. The sound is terrible.

Small thin speakers suck a big sweaty one where bass is concerned. Get some bigger speakers.

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Childcatcher

Re: That leaves the sound. The sound is terrible.

Many of us have neighbours to worry about disturbing, so a lack of bass makes it easier to keep the peace. You get used to a lack of thump and it sounds natural enough - no matter how lacking it would obviously be compared to full-fat speakers in a detached house with no such concerns.

Doesn't disturb the kids' sleep so much, either.

Living in a terrace, I'm really happy about the trend to thin screens and weedy speakers! If you really care that much, you'll have it hooked up to something far more capable than anything you could ever hope to come built in.

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Anonymous Coward

input lag

As TVs get smarter they get worse for Pro gaming... the more processing the TVs have the longer it takes to display on your screen for example the new Panasonic VT50 / GT50 have 4 frames of lag.

No good for pro gaming!

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Headmaster

Re: input lag

Pro?

Gaming?

Some dichotomy there...

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lets here it for the old country

I wonder what percentage of european sales are actually UK sales.

The reason for this is thanks to iPLayer 4od and itv catch-up, there is a decent amount of watchable tv available over the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Not quite sure what the point is

I have a quiet low-power Linux box in the lounge, I can use it with a monitor or the TV - I imagine it does anything a smart TV could do, and plenty more, without being tied to specific firmware or services.

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Happy

smart tv hard disk recorders

Does anyone know - Can you download programmes from bbc iplayer direct and save them on to a samsung hard drive recorder? We have slow broadband speed so streaming give very poor quality picture. Thanks

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