The smart 'idiot box'
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, "May you live in interesting times, may you find what you are looking for." Ancient though, the proverb surely is a fit for today's time, where things keep getting more and more interesting. What seemed to be out of reach or dreamy decades back are now the reality-vacationing on Mars or having a clone of your favourite pet dog.
Words and concepts are given new dimensions. Take the word 'smart'. Besides its conventional meaning, 'smart' is now what we call the technological convergence between computers and other technological devices. Our phones are now blessed with this phenomenal 'smartness'; hence the smartphones. Realising the hype created by the smartphones all over the world, manufacturers like Samsung, Phillips, Sony, LG and many others have tried their hands at a new tech to groom the idiot boxes in our living rooms into 'Smart TVs'.
Smart TV is the result of the integration of internet into television sets, set-top boxes and Blue-ray players, thereby making the traditional television sets smart, much like the term we use for mobile phones Smartphones. Usually confused with Internet TV, a Smart TV offers a number of internet connected services that normal televisions cannot offer. Their operating systems based on Linux, UNIX, Android and other open source platforms, the core part of Smart TVs involves web enabled apps for streaming media, personalised communication and social networking.
To begin with, all of the Smart TVs have a home page or a hub that contains all the apps that the TV offers. These apps, which are cheap or free, add functionality to the TV with video games, sports updates, specialised channels and much more. As video streaming websites like Netflix and YouTube become increasingly popular, full internet capability on a television can be more valuable than cable or a satellite dish. Hence, the best Smart TVs come with Wi-Fi ready. Manufacturers have come up with several different methods available for controlling Smart TVs. While LG Smart TVs have a magic motion remote control that gets one everything by just pointing, Samsung Smart TVs have two remotes. One side is a similar layout to normal remote and the other side is a full QWERTY keyboard, with even a small LCD display.
Although most Smart TVs look strikingly similar, certain features and contents however, make them distinguishable. While most provide access to YouTube's and Netflix's streaming video services, some like Sharp's Quattron series, have Pandora for internet radio and Facebook.
Sony's latest Bravia TVs can now access Hulu and a number of other services. But Sony's Google TV sets cannot. Toshiba's Net TV system can do Skype, along with other applications. But its Yahoo Connected sets have another set of apps that look and perform differently.
Samsung Smart TVs which are riding high in popularity at the moment, have a BBC News app exclusively, allowing viewers to enjoy video news clips from the internet on their own home TV screens.
Convenience, probably, is the killer attraction of all Smart TVs. Consumers can now view all the advanced services on the Smart TVs, via a single device. With a Smart TV in the living room, one no longer has to wait for re-runs of their favourite shows, but can watch them instantly. Of course, there are the DVRs; but when there are multiple things being recorded by the DVR, something is bound to get missed.
Since picture quality still remains one of the significant aspects of a sophisticated TV, HD and 3D features are incorporated in the newer versions of these glamorous TVs, taking the technology a notch higher.
Smart devices surely created a turning point in the history of time and technology. Because Smart TV is a new concept, the technology behind it is constantly evolving. Although to some the idea of the mish-mash of computer and TV is just as unnatural, some facts cannot be overlooked. Like using their big Smart TV screen instead of the computer or the small smartphone screen to see their favorite YouTube videos, chat on Facebook while watching TV without getting out the laptop, or look up information about their favourite actor while watching a Netflix movie. So, with a Smart TV in the living room, "you will surely find what you are looking for"!