Have smart TVs come of age?
Posted: 4th May 2012
The age of the smart TV is finally upon us. New TVs with built in net connections are fast, easy to use and – crucially – more convenient for watching movies stored on another PC than any other method.
The last year has seen a huge improvement in interface design and processing power. Smart TVs have finally grown up.
For almost as long as we’ve had computer networks at home, we’ve been apparently baffled by one simple question. If you have a movie on the hard drive of your PC in the study, how do you watch on my TV in the lounge? Over the last decade there have been numerous attempts to solve this problem.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, there have been media centre PCs – full Windows computers which do nothing but sit by the TV ready for putting digital videos on to the big screen. They’re good, but clearly overpowered for the task in hand.
UPnP – and its sister standard DLNA – are very clever and can connect your TV or internet enabled set-top box with a remote hard drive or PC. But poor interface design and slow performance has meant that nine times out of ten it’s quicker and easier just to copy the video file to a USB stick, or simply plug your laptop into a spare HDMI slot.
Most TVs now have USB ports built in for playing back movies from a portable hard drive, but the file browsers for finding a movie on your laptop or PC are slow and badly laid out.
Finally, though, the latest generation of smart TVs – like the Samsung ES8000 – actually make playing a file from another PC over your home wireless network easier than using a USB stick. Dual-core processors make them as quick and responsive as a high-end mobile phone, and interfaces borrowed from the same mobile operating systems mean it’s easier to find the videos you’re looking for from a networked drive than ever before.
Even better, you can tap into online streaming services like Blinkbox without any extra hardware at all. And they can even use some of that new found computing power to run games like Angry Birds without a separate console.
It’s taken years, but the smart TV has finally arrived. And it all makes the digital home that bit easier to live in.
You might also like to read:
- How to stream media to your phone, laptop or tablet
- Connect a laptop to your TV
- blinkbox best service for streaming TV and movies!
- What is a NAS drive?
- Microsoft HomeOS looks forward to a digital home