Samsung’s 2011 line of web-enabled Smart TVs have hit the market and are generating a lot of buzz on the retail floor. Smart TVs allow you to surf the web (select models), access popular web applications like Netflix, Facebook and Pandora, access files stored on networked devices in your home such as your computer or smart phone and even allow for enhanced control with smart phones and tablets.
The Smart TV feature is available on five LED series and three plasma series with retail pricing starting at $1,099 for a 40″ LED TV. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.
Smart Hub. The heart of the Smart TV system is the Smart Hub (pictured below). From the Smart Hub you can easily access content, games and more. Best of all, you don’t have to miss a minute of the action on TV while browsing the Smart Hub for content. Notice the box in the top left showing several hot air balloons. That box represents a live action feed of the TV broadcast while browsing the Smart Hub.
App-Based Web Content. Smart TV content is app-based so you can add and delete apps over time as needed. There are currently hundreds of apps available with more being added every day (click here for a full list). Listed below are the most popular apps by category:
- Video On Demand: Netflix, Blockbuster, Vudu and Hulu Plus
- Sports and News: ESPN Next Level, MLB.TV, AccuWeather, USA Today, AP News and Google Maps
- Lifestyle: Facebook, Twitter and Picasa
- Music: Pandora and Napster
- Games: Sudoku and Texas Hold ‘Em
Skype. Skype is a free video chat service ordinarily confined to your computer or laptop. Not anymore. The Skype app is available on most models allowing you to video chat through your big screen TV. Samsung’s Skype camera accessory ($149) is required for use of this feature.
AllShare. AllShare is what enables connectivity with networked devices in the home like your computer and smart phone. Download the free AllShare app on your smart phone or enable sharing on your computer to pull pictures, family movies or music from your PC to your TV without a mess of wires or complicated connections.
Smart Phone/Tablet Control. Most of the functions on the Smart TVs can be controlled by a tablet or smart phone via Samsung’s free control application. Apple’s iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone and most Android devices are compatible with the controller app. What’s more, Samsung announced a partnership with Comcast and Time Warner Cable at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that could eventually lead to the ability to control of your cable subscription through the Smart TV platform and eliminate the need for a cable box. Stay tuned for developments on that front.
System Requirements. All Smart TVs can be connected to the internet using a standard Ethernet cable or wirelessly via WiFi. Ethernet provides the fastest, most secure connection, while WiFi provides good connection without extensive rewiring. In fact, many models are equipped with a built-in WiFi adapter so in many cases, they can connect to your existing WiFi network right out of the box. For the best WiFi connection, particularly for streaming video content, be sure you’re using an N router.
So if you’re tired of waiting for the next Netflix shipment to arrive or huddling the family around the computer to Skype with the grandparents or view pictures from your most recent vacation, a new web-enabled Smart TV might be up your alley. Samples are on display at all 12 Grand Appliance and TV locations now. Stop in for a test drive.