Friday, September 28, 2012

Which Smart TV to buy - or NOT!

Hello all

Today I touch on a topic that's near my heart: sharing experience across various devices. These days the electronics firms are having a field trip, selling hyper-expensive 'Smart TVs' to an unsuspecting public.

A Smart TV is one which has some 'smarts' built in - i.e., it has an operating system running various apps. Samsung is advertising its latest line with fancy features such as gesture control, video calling, and browsing. While the TV part of the deal is admittedly excellent - the LED panel is sharp and gives outstanding image quality - it all gets iffy when they try to charge a 100% premium for the supposedly smart features.

Why? The answer lies in 2005. Yes, that golden era when Nokia ruled the world of phones. What has that got to do with anything? Well, all the best Nokia smartphones had a feature called 'TV Out'. What it did was display the screen of your phone on your telly, via a cable that went into the audio jack of your phone and split into three for the DVD input on your TV. With this setup, you could browse the web, stream media, play photos and vidoes, and games, on ANY TV. In 2005.

Fast forward to 2012. TVs have given way to HDTVs. DVD inputs have given way to HDMI slots. And the excellent TV-Out feature has given way to 'HDMI Out' in best-case scenario and MHL in the worst-case. See, most flagship Android phones (even some mid range ones) either have an HDMI out slot or support MHL (multimedia high-definition link) technology through their micro USB ports. They connect to an HDTV's HDMI slot via a cable. And they display the contents of your phone, in FULL HD, on your TV.

Think about it. With a device you already have and spending maybe 10 USD on the cables, you can browse the web, make video calls, watch/stream HD movies, play games, on your TV. Your screen becomes a computer powered by a hefty processor and GBs of RAM with top of the range internet connectivity.

So there. Smart TVs are a scam - at least if you plan to buy them due to their 'smart' features. Buy a smartPHONE instead! Or wait for the day when such throwaway functionality comes built in with every HDTV instead of being on a pointless premium

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