Smart TVs signal death of the idiot box

Social TV

Catching up with social networking sites can also be performed via a Smart TV, with Samsung’s Social TV function allowing you to run apps for Facebook, Twitter and Google Talk on the HDTV screen simultaneously with live TV programming. So you can contribute via Twitter to the ABC’s Q&A show, make comments to Facebook friends about what you really think about the chefs on My Kitchen Rules, or exchange sporting banter with mates in another site via Google Talk while watching the big game.

The Flip QWERTY remote (above) is a real asset to Social TV functions, so it’s a shame it’s supplied with only two Series of Smart TVs, although Samsung says it will also be available as an optional extra for other models. An alternative is to download the Smart TV app from Apple’s app store or Android Marketplace and use its virtual keyboard on your smartphone or tablet device.

You have three choices on how to view posts tweets and chat: to the side of the main TV view in ‘blogging mode’; as a transparent overlay on the screen, with a smaller TV window and larger border for the social media app (like a picture-in-picture); or, if you really, really like your friends, in full screen mode, dispensing with the live TV view altogether.

For both Twitter and Facebook accounts, a Smart TV makes possible to have multiple, secure log-ins for each member of your household, so only you can access your social media.

Search All

With many Smart LED and plasma models integrating WiFi connectivity and DLNA compatibility, the ability to search your home’s network for media to display on the big screen – or route through the good speakers of the surround sound system – is a handy convenience.

The Search All function on Smart TVs (and select Samsung home theatre systems and Blu-ray players) is pretty clever in that, once you’ve entered a query into the Smart TV, it will go looking for every instance of the search term across every device and area in your network.

Samsung's Smart TV features BigPond Movies, allowing you to stream rental movies from Telstra's BigPond Movie service.

That means programs recorded on a USB or external hard drive using the Smart TV’s PVR recording function; or any connected AllShare compatible device; on your PC; on the web and in your browsing history  (if its a web-enabled Smart TV model); on your social network accounts’ in the app store; on Samsung partner content sites, such as BigPond Movies and BigPond TV, and catch-up TV services like Seven Plus and iView.

Your Video

There’s also the Your Video feature, which analyses your viewing history then forges links with IMDB (the comprehensive Internet Movie Database) to provide information and ratings on other movies and TV shows, with these recommendations then displayed on a new screen. Samsung bills it as a way to help you watch better TV, not just more TV.