Do You Need a Smart TV?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Is buying a Smart TV smart?
Or maybe just dumb?
Know this: a debate is raging and, right now, industry observers say that Smart TV sales are stagnant, even tepid.
Cost is a factor. Buy even a smaller 40" Smart TV, add in sales tax and professional installation (highly recommended if it will be hung on a wall), and you are cruising near $1,000.
Do you get enough to warrant the price?
Confession: a month ago, after ten years with a traditional TV, I tossed the bulky beast and replaced it with a high tech Samsung Smart TV, just 40" but to me the screen size was not the selling point. What had me at go is that the device is WiFi enabled and it comes pre-loaded with apps for Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu, and a bunch of things I will never click on (Fitness VOD, Fox News, DishWorld, the sorts of players that pay for real estate on a smartphone whether you want them or not). This therefore is a truly connected appliance and, yes, it also has Skype, Twitter and a Web browser built in.
Tired of watching the Tom Cruise "Jack Reacher" film, which I watched a few minutes of the other day, free of charge? No prob: call up the browser, surf over to MainStreet, and get reading. It all happens on that Samsung screen.
Am I satisfied? Hold on for the answer.
Recognize that the $35 ChromeCast, via Google, lets just about any HDTV receive streamed content from Google Play. You can also stream NetFlix, YouTube, anything you can download to your phone, tablet, or computer. That is useful, because many - possibly most - flat screen TVs rolling off the assembly lines come without built-in WiFi. Chromecast is a cheap work-around.
Apple TV - at $99 - does similar, letting Apple users beam content on their iPad or MAC to a TV.
But neither Apple TV nor ChromeCast creates a truly connected context where the TV itself is an Internet appliance. That is what you get with a genuinely Smart TV, which has as its defining feature that built in WiFi.
Note: the TV may be Smart, but it is not all conquering. Personally I have not figured out how to get content on an iPad onto it without Apple TV, and if there is a way, even the Internet is not revealing it. There also does not appear to be an easy way to load any but a handful of apps - curated by Samsung - onto the device. In other words: this is not a genuinely open Internet experience. Not even close.
The grumbling continues. Kyle James, who blogs at Rather-Be-Shopping.com, wrote in an email: "Six months ago I bought a Samsung 55" Smart TV and while it does add some convenience in terms of loading Netflix, YouTube or Amazon Video, the added cost just isn't worth it. With products like tablets, smartphones, and devices like Apple TV, the smart TV has not reached a critical mass in terms of demand and probably won't anytime soon. Personally it hasn't saved my family any money, and I don't think it will."