My refrigerator does not need to tweet. My refrigerator is supposed to keep things cold. That's all I expect from it. I don't want a half-baked inventory management system or a TV.
My Blu-ray player should play movies. Not tweet, not download updates for a movie. The experience should not be inferior to VHS (by lacking the ability to fast-forward at will).
One example of a shitty experience in my recent memory: Last week I turned on my PS3 after it's been off for about a year. I wanted to play Gran Turismo (5, I think). Plugging it into Ethernet was a big mistake. First, the OS must be updated. That takes 5 minutes. Next, Gran Turismo must apply TWENTY updates before I can play. I took a picture of my screen because it was so ludicrous. I took another picture when it was installing the last update. Those two pictures are forty-five minutes apart! Finally I can play the game that worked just fine a year ago. The only thing that's new is that it asks me to sign into Playstation's network every time I load the game.
So, now, given the option to connect something to the Internet, I probably won't. The user experience matters.
The gall of the company to sell auto software updates as a feature amazes me.
There's another opportunity for an improvement, though. A simple "what's changed" that we've had with "normal" software updates on our computers for years.
I would love to be able to see what's in my fridge and pantry in real-time. But until everything has RFID embedded, it will never take less time than just looking in the cupboard when I need to know.
> So, now, given the option to connect something to the Internet, I probably won't.
That may be going too far. I recently had my XBox360's network disconnected without realizing it and put in an old game I had just bought. I played for a good 4 hour stretch, saved the game and quit. When I came back the saved game was corrupt. Turns out there was an update and I could have saved myself a huge hassle if I had had it plugged in to the internet...
Thing is, it's really a Sony issue, nothing intrinsic to Internet connectivity which could be used to auto-update in the middle of the night.
Connectivity isn't the problem, gimmicky half-baked features and poorly implemented/purposefully crippled functions are.
I do agree that in terms of the OS, you get mostly pointless updates there, probably mostly playing a cat and mouse game with people jailbreaking the console. It would be fine except it demands the latest OS version to play a game online.
For comparison, I can download from Steam at over 5Mbps. The PS3 took 20 minutes to download a 50MB update.
My TV on the other hand, which is the pre-'smart' generation of Samsung TVs - does a reasonable job of streaming media from the network.
The Samsung TV we had was the only one actually smart enough to be able to turn on and function as a dumb TV nearly instantly prior to the "Smart TV" functionality booting up. Based on various comments here it seems like not every Samsung TV does this, but the one I had access to (I forget the model number) did do this, which was very nice compared to all the others. On the down side, the Samsung's remote control was downright horrific to use and had these oddly modal states where it expected you to type lots of things in using a T9-style keypad despite the unit also having a qwerty keyboard (which only worked in some modes/apps) on the backside.
Developing apps for these things was enough to get me to decide I'd never buy a "Smart TV" as a consumer. It makes way more sense to get a good "Dumb TV" and enhance it via set-top boxes like consoles (The Wii U is quite a nice media player, if slower than it should be), or Roku or such. Not only is the out of the box experience way better this way, but you can much more easily upgrade the set-top box with new features every one or two years whereas there's very little reason to get a new TV less than once every 5-10 years.
This is the same problem I have with car audio (source,at least), built-in navigation systems, etc. The rate of improvement in cars and screens compared to the cost of upgrading is quite small compared to the value proposition provided by newer navigation/audio/etc. offerings every couple years. I want to buy a just a screen with a single digital video input -- no speakers even. And, I want my car to have a standard hole in the dash for an audio source box coupled with some power/speaker/GPS antenna/etc. inputs. Of course, my desires directly oppose the pipe dreams of industry executives who want to turn their products into Trojan horses of continuing revenue streams for years to come. I recall laughing as the Honda salesman tried halfheartedly to sell us a DVD/Nav system for our minivan. Would I rather pay $2K for a car DVD system or buy two, $500 iPads? Hmmm....
Edit: Another thing that bothers me about these artificial couplings is that the hardware-centric manufacturers rarely provide updates for more than a few months after a product's launch. How long until the browser in a "smart" TV can no longer render most sites? If Roku doesn't support its $50 box after a year or two, I can just buy another brand or a newer model. However, I'm pretty mad if I have to upgrade my $1500 TV.
Entune uses your phone for Pandora & whatnot, but the maps interface is 100% old-skool (non-phone). The audio interface is built-in software. The things that come from your phone are your music, your phone calls, album art, and some data. The whole interface is some 1990s reject touchscreen abomination.
Data (stocks, weather) is provided by XM satellite data, and other data (updating apps) uses your smartphone.
I can't think of a more ridiculous mashup of technologies than Toyota's Entune.
Source: I have a 2013 Prius with premium nav.
Of course, once this happens, a lot of people will develop selective amnesia, as it happened with phones.
The TV ecosystem is basically the Apple playbook to a T: let the competitors try to design a more computer-esque smart version of a dumb device. Laugh heartily at their shitty UX that is limited by their lack of vision and unwillingness to take real risks, and let them do the market research for you. Make one that doesn't suck and is ridiculed by the media since those products "already exist." Get 80% market share in a few years while competitors scramble to keep up and suddenly all new TVs lift Apple design features. Settle in on the high end consumers who are willing to pay for attention to detail with margins that would make your competitors blush.
"Smart TVs" right now are Android before the iPhone. Slightly more polished yet fundamentally flawed versions of an old paradigm. People seem to forget that the early versions of Android were basically "open source Blackberry OS."
When AAPL plummets because people think they do not have an economic moat, I look at the lack of true innovation in the TV market as evidence that no, in fact, nobody has been able to replicate the core of Apple's design genius yet. The iTV is going have to invent new interaction methods that are much more natural and intuitive for people sitting on a couch channel surfing than buttons on a laggy infrared remote control. As per the iPhone/iPad, these design interactions are going to require a fundamental re-thinking and re-building of the entire user interface of a television. You can bet that these things will be copied aggressively (and poorly, at least initially) and lawsuits abound.
But the UX will be compelling and there will inevitably be a few "killer apps." Once the iTV is in the living room the experience will be frictionless enough people will probably start buying content that is technically more expensive than on competing platforms anyway. (all-you-can-eat vs pay-as-you-go, Apple will probably go for pay-as-you-go to start out.) That'll drive adoption so that Apple will build marketshare quickly enough to provide leverage to pull the content providers into the 21st century. But even the starting point they need to be to provide a MVP is probably tough to get to.
This has nothing to do with the fact that if and when it ever exists Apple will have basically rendered the current "Smart TV" user experience an embarrassment to the industry.
I had a Windows Mobile handset, and while the hardware was fantastic, the user experience was horrific. That accurately describes any attempt to use the 'SmartTV' functionality on my Samsung BR/PVR box.
It's time for manufacturers to get their heads out of their asses, cede this space to those who are best at it, and make "dumb" devices like they did 5 years ago.
Every year they persist in this effort will be a disservice to everybody who buys their products.
Yes, I own one of these "smart" TVs, and I'm still bitter about my purchase.
Edit: when I said "horseshit", it was because I inferred that you were saying Apple should make Apple-branded TV hardware, not just Apple TV boxes that plug into TVs. If my inference was bad, then.. well you should be more clear. ;)
They aren't going to do that. And you can't rely on set-top boxes (which themselves are largely terrible), media centers and game consoles to pick up the slack, since, as the OP points out, you still have a pile of manure at startup, while changing inputs etc.
You really do need someone like Apple to create a hardware/software product that shows everyone how to do it properly.
Really I wish TV manufacturers would offer "monitors" (screens without TV tuners). If one manufacturer goes this way, people who only want a screen for e.g. their Roku might buy that one instead.
I should note the LG TVs in the OP are actually great test machines too...
Like .... ?
As for dealing with switching the inputs, many older TVs and computer monitors come with a simple enough mechanism to switch between various inputs. This particular article may be about regression in the UI.
There is nothing "new" Apple can do here. If they end up doing something it will not be not that far off from existing and very functional UIs.
The big thing is the if. Apple isn't going to enter this space to create another "me, too" product. They are only going to enter the space if they can do to TV what the iPhone did to mobile phones.
A lot of people think Jobs' implied that they had figured out the TV interface. I hope so, because I'm with a large majority of others in this thread: current "smart TV" is stupid and completely lacks imagination.
Track record. They released several revolutionary products in the last ten years.
>They most definitely will not re-invent the wheel.
Maybe the wheel hasn't been invented yet. There is a lot of potential to disturb the "SmartTV" market. The current offerings are mediocre, at best.
There were some caveats like the keyboard on the remote not working inside some 3rd party apps. that the TV allowed you to install.
First you pay extra for the roku with USB so that you can plug in a hard drive and play local content, but the roku doesn't even support .avi files - in fact it basically supports nothing locally.
The interface is also terrible, but I can forgive that since the box itself is a little under powered. What I found really obnoxious was that they put a banner ad on the bottom of the screen. I don't want to pay for a set top box just to have a giant ad on the front of it.
The only redeeming quality the roku had was the third part channel you can install on it, Plex (http://www.plexapp.com/). Roku should just replace their software team with the guys writing plex. Plex had a much nicer looking interface (with no ads) that connected to the plex server running on my desktop. All meta data was pulled down and all of my directories were immediately recognized and organized.
The Roku 3 with the USB either is the same price or cheaper compared to an Apple TV, Google TV, and other variants. Before the Roku 3, Roku's were almost half the price of competing products.
> First you pay extra for the roku with USB so that you can plug in a hard drive and play local content, but the roku doesn't even support .avi files - in fact it basically supports nothing locally.
Plex is free on Roku. I can't say video playback was perfect on competing devices as well.
> The interface is also terrible, but I can forgive that since the box itself is a little under powered.
Yes, but it's also the easiest to use. It's even intuitive for non-techies.
> The only redeeming quality the roku had was the third part channel you can install on it, Plex (http://www.plexapp.com/).
IMO that's the only redeeming quality of Google TV devices.
The apple TV has much nicer hardware and better interface, but it's only good if you live in apple's universe and buy things from itunes.
What's more annoying than that though is that it takes a full second to change channels due to the needed signal capture and buffering for DTV signals.
The interface is abysmal and even with a HDMI cable and the BluRay set to the right resolution (a chore in itself), I still have to manually change the aspect ratio for some DVDs, which takes around 20 button presses and 20 seconds or so to accomplish, and then needs to be reset when done watching.
As a result I watch TV maybe an hour a week if that. Which is fine by me, but I doubt I'm the only one that has given up.
I remember having a TV made in the 1950s that had a rack of vacuum tubes in the back. It took less time to "warm up" than modern TVs take for their OS to boot. People complained a lot about the warm up time. And changing channels always happened instantly.
This is before we even get to "smart TV" features.
Not returning the tv tells Samsung et al that selling junk is acceptable.
Companies building 'smart' devices need to ensure that the core interactions people are going to have with their devices are as good as or better than the alternatives.
What LG could easily have done is built a small, always-on device core which defaulted to a splash screen containing inputs on the left and favorites on the right. Powering on the TV would be just warming up the LCD display, a few seconds at most. If your current input is inactive, show the splash screen. Otherwise, go straight to your content.
The built-in Plex stuff is cool, but suffers all the same problems as the rest of the TV. People are better off with a dumb display + Apple TV.
Unless you unplug it each time it's not in use.
Of course it wasn't even a smart TV and it took me ages to figure out that I needed to enable 'gaming' mode to make it display my PC's output over HDMI without zooming or making the colors really bizarre.
Count me in the camp who wants TVs to be more like monitors. In fact, if you could get a 40 or 42 inch monitor for the same price as my TV, I'd have gotten the monitor. However, a decent TV is often a half or a third of the price of an equivalently sized monitor, even at the same resolution.
Presumably TV IPS (or S-PVA, or PLS, etc.) panels are somehow cheaper than monitor IPS (or S-PVA, or PLS, etc.) panels? (Or maybe TV demand is higher enough volume for there to be meaningful economy of scale difference?)
However, I still think that generally TVs using the same panel size and type as a monitor are cheaper than the monitor equivalent, especially 32" and up.
I've found that the remote is very sensitive and usable, and a large improvement over standard n/s/e/w remotes due to the nature of modern interfaces requiring more complex input. It makes entering alphanumeric input far easier too. It takes a little getting used to, but I didn't have the problems others mentioned, nor those in the article. I will admit that not putting an input change button on the wii-style remote was a big mistake - I often have to go into the input list program to change it.
By far the biggest plus of this TV over others is the integration of Plex, which can't be overstated. Plex has such a good experience out of the box that my initial idea of setting up an HTPC just wasn't necessary. It's on par with XBMC, and indeed can actually use several XBMC themes such as Aeon (I don't bother.) In comparing similar TV's from other brands, Sony's solution is called Homestream which is just a transcoder. Other brands try to integrate interfaces similar to Plex, but unsurprisingly usually screw up the UI and are left with an unusable experience. LG has something similar out of the box, so thank god for Plex! The media server is excellent to use as well - as good if not better than XBMC for a server.
To address the problems others have mentioned, I do think that most of the 'premium' stuff that comes bundled is mostly useless and I don't use it, however ABC iView integration is amazing, as is Plex's channels which allow you to install video RSS-style feeds. There's more to explore as well, I haven't found the need to touch much else past Plex.
My TV has a startup time of about 15 seconds, which I don't find too bad at all, I have no idea why others experience worse times - it might be that there's only actually 1-2 LG owners in this thread.
One last thing to note is that since I bought it (~2 months), it has received 3 over the air updates which were installed only on prompt. It seems that LG is committed to improving them, which I greatly appreciate.
I've been using plex for some time now, and is one of the reasons I actually chose LG. but they are arsey bastards, integratings ads into their own interface.
see here for known bugs and missing features:
the lack of an input button is maddening to the extreme, it basically forces you to use the interface.
i thought the magic remote was ok too, until i started using the other one, it actually makes so much more sense to me.
Sony's Homestream is just string replace s/Serviio/Homestream :)
Along with the big names there are a bunch of also-ran streaming apps with very little content. There's also things like a Facebook app but I have never tried to use it.
So what's the problem? The TV has to 'boot', like in the article. For the first 30 seconds after it's powered on, you can barely change the channels or volume. The interface will sometimes become unresponsive requiring a hard power off, or the TV will lock and reset itself completely. If you do a firmware update, which happens quite a bit, sometimes you have to re-enter all your account information for all your services.
Sometimes you have to quit and re-start viewing content to get the audio to sync up right. But the one thing that angers me the most about streaming content: you bump any button on the remote, and you exit back to the regular TV channels. It doesn't even have the sense to ask, "Are you sure you want to exit Netflix?". You can hit the home button, the volume buttons, and pause/fast forward. You even accidentally bump some other button, and bam. You're back navigating the glacially slow interface with a TV remote.
Nobody would touch a monitor with a 30-second startup time. Retailers should start listing startup as another statistic in the product info, along with screen size and the number of inputs.
It's most frustrating as I use them as externals for my laptop. The laptop display springs in to life, but as I have one of the externals set as primary I'm waiting a while before I can see the unlock screen.
I don't believe that this has to be inevitable, but I do believe that you can tell whether this is happening by simply using a product.
Finally, we found that it had a section of horrible OEM crapware under "apps", including an app called "Angry Ducks". Finally, we found netflix under another section outside of apps called "Premium"
Also, I've been using the LG iPhone app to control the pointer & clicking via touchscreen over the network. It does most of what I want, and has a "built-in" input button!
If/when "smart" becomes an essential feature, I'd expect the experience to improve.
While an unresponsive UI and slow boot surely grates on many of us, I'd wager the average consumer doesn't notice/care. The millions of crappy Motorola cable boxes set the expectation and they're are at least as bad in all respects.
Personally, my TVs all get their smarts from a Roku 2/3.
Now we have a laptop hooked with HDMI.
Would love to be able to plug my hdd in and play videos from it, but it's not that kind of device and jailbreaking seems like a bit of a hassle at this point. Plus, when the girlfriend wants to watch Netflix and it's running some strange Linux distro I might get a bit told off...
It doesn't fit all of our video needs (we have Sky, PS3 for dvds etc.) but it's worth it for netflix alone, imo.
Of course the future is TVs as monitors; but getting there will be painful.
Samsung TVs seem to be powered by a single Linux blob for the DSP functions and another for the "Smart" functions.
Ethernet/wifi in TV's is a great concept but the execution so far is sad, it can't pair with a cable DVR in another room, you can't down Roku as an app (or Plex) and have it run as a native full speed application on the TV cpu, and if even if you can, it won't run across different brands of television or even different models from the same company.
The solution is not to improve the software here, it should not exist in the first place. If I could buy the most high end Panasonic plasma without smart TV "features" I would.
Sure, the 'apps' and the ability to search youtube are mostly pointless, but the DLNA is great. What's more, DLNA (player/renderer profiles) is not something that the linux box behind the tv can do very well, so I'm glad of the tv for this.