January 23, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
I’ve always been a little bothered by the term smart TV. Seriously, they’re not that smart. Up until now, what we’ve been calling smart TVs are basically TVs with internet connections that offer some variation of content apps. So instead of a set-top-box that brings you Pandora, Netflix and YouTube, the features are built into the TV.
I like that—saves me the trouble of hooking up another box and losing another remote, but it’s not smart. The TVs aren’t doing anything special, anything different. They’re not changing how I interact with them. They’re not communicating with other devices. They’re not changing anything about the way I experience TV other than offering me more things to watch or listen to.
At this month’s CES we saw a variety of new approaches to the smart TV category, but in my opinion, these are still baby steps. Smart TVs are still, mostly, just TVs with connections to Netflix. Sure, some may add a social networking tweak, and another may let you wave your hands to turn up the volume, but they’re not advancing us beyond the basic experience of sitting in a chair and letting entertainment happen in front of us.
I expect this to change, but it’s going to happen slowly, the same way that cell phones evolved slowly into PDAs and then smart phones. How many years passed between the first Motorola Razr and the iPhone app store (I’d argue that the iPhone didn’t become a smart phone until the app store emerged about a year after the first iPhone launched.)?
Still, this year brings some significant advances to the category. Check out the slide show for the top tends in smart TV development.
View the top smart TV trends here.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.