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Samsung shows one off its attractive, yet "smart" LED LCD TVs.  (Source: Flickr)

  (Source: Flickr)
Is the public finally warming to internet TV

Public reception to Sony's internet TV efforts, which put a beefy smartphone operating system (Android) in a TV, was decidedly mixed.  Some customers loved the concept, despite rough edges such as interface bugs and the fact that TV networks blocked access to online TV episodes on their sites and Hulu.  Others despised the product for its shortcomings.

I. Samsung: Record App Downloads -- But No Google TV Yet

Samsung meanwhile has been quietly pushing its own brand of internet TV sporting a less feature-rich proprietary OS.  But unlike Google TV in its current form, Samsung TV already offers an app store.

The store launched in January 2010 without much celebration.  It took the store over nine months to reach 1 million app downloads, but only two months after that to reach 2 million downloads worldwide.  Samsung announced [press release] the landmark yesterday.

According to Samsung, its most popular apps are YouTube, Google Maps, and Texas Hold 'Em.

Some may be a bit confused at this point, as there was much fuss a little bit ago about Samsung announcing a new "Smart TV" powered by Android.  Well it seems the Android platform's struggles (or lack of an app store) spooked Samsung, and the vendor -- like other TV manufacturers -- is waiting on deploying an Android product.

In a Wall Street Journal report, Samsung Electronics' Visual Display President B.K. Yoon comments, "We are still reviewing whether we will make the Google TV set or not."

The company does seem to view Google's Android as the next step in the evolution of Smart TV, given that it will soon launch a smart Blu-Ray player, complete with Google TV (Google's TV-aimed Android distribution).

In the meantime the company plans to take baby steps, making minor improvements to its current proprietary platform.  Among the improvements discussed at CES 2011 was to make the hub easier to navigate, incorporating a universal search bar and picture-in-picture -- both features found the current Google TV interface.

Samsung sold only 5 million "smart" (internet-ready) TVs and 2 million 3D TVs in 2010, despite holding a dominant position in the market [source: Display Search].  The company thinks that this year it can sell 12 million smart TVs and 10 million 3D TVs.

Overall Samsung hopes to grow its LCD TV business from 39 million units sold in 2010 to 45 million units sold in 2011.  

II. Quality Issues

To do that, though it must overcome quality control issues.  Reviews of the Samsung UN55C8000, one of the company's premiere LED 3D-ready "smart" TVs on Amazon, had many "five star" ratings, but also multiple failure reports.

One user, Jerry L. Nichols, writes:

This time I set the new 3D set up on December 19th and it had a black screen on December 20th. The repairman showed up on December 22. He replaced two boards to no avail. He has now ordered a new front panel, basically a new television to be assembled in my home. It will be sometime after Christmas before the new front panel shows up. In my opinion a new set should have been provided to compensate for the four hours use that we got, and what seems to be an extreme repair in the works!

Another user, "Tu", reports, "I bought this TV 2 months ago. It stopped working after two months. It didn't turn on the video."

The manufacturer's issues are rumored to be stemming from capacitor failures.  Reportedly Samsung has been cutting corners when it comes to capacitor quality and is now paying the price in terms of failures.  That has led to failures on the television's control and power boards.



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RE: One more time
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/18/2011 9:54:10 AM , Rating: 2
I was prepared to refute all of your points one by one, but then I realized that anyone buying a new large screen HDTV these days likely has at least one current generation console or is hooking it up to a Blu-ray player which proves your point.


RE: One more time
By Motoman on 1/18/2011 10:01:29 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly - the chances of someone not already having at least one device with internet connectivity is vanishingly small.


RE: One more time
By Iaiken on 1/18/2011 10:02:10 AM , Rating: 2
Still, TV manufacturers would rather you buy pricier all-in-one solutions like those they dream of for the future. TV's that have built in PVR, internet capabilities and more! This way you can't upgrade your home theater in a piecemeal fashion, just like an iMac (f***ing Apple)!

Physical media is already on it's way out and I watch more streaming video from the net on my TV than I do either cable or blu-ray.

Oh well...


RE: One more time
By quiksilvr on 1/18/2011 10:18:18 AM , Rating: 1
Streaming video is really making a jump. Just the other day I watched Ip Man on Netflix in High HD (whatever that means) and the quality was ridiculously good. Granted, it can never hold a candle to Blu Ray's quality, but I watched it on a 1080p projector stretched to 120". It looked incredible and I highly predict streaming video going nuts in the next couple of years.


RE: One more time
By The Raven on 1/18/2011 10:36:08 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not crapping on your point, as I agree with you. But it should be mentioned that you can save a considerable amount of power by not using your Xbox to stream Netflix, etc. I'm guessing that these TVs will save you power/$. The Xbox and PS3 are huge power drains. Of course I'm not proposing that people throw out their old TVs and consoles and get a new one of these, but it should be considered when buying a TV and certainly can be seen as a benefit.

And this is a judge-free zone as I am using my Xbox Elite (older super power hungry version) to stream Netflix because of the set up and resources that we have.


RE: One more time
By HoosierEngineer5 on 1/18/2011 11:58:40 AM , Rating: 2
A bigger problem is the usability of the TV. I got one of the 3D plasma units (PN63C8000) before Christmas, and tried to add it to my network. Since we are on dial-up (no broadband providers in our area), I needed to manually configure the unit. The manual that comes with it is almost useless, and Samsung technical support is worse. They swore that my dial-up ISP needed to provide the configuration information for my TV! I eventually figured out what the TV was looking for.

In order to access files on the network, it seems that a special Samsung application needs to be installed on the server. Even with this, the TV has trouble accessing most types of video files. Due to this, I am not using the Ethernet capabilities of the TV at all (and probably never will).

Samsung has a lot of work to do before they come close to the capabilities of a home theater personal computer. I fear that the TV may not even have the needed capabilities.


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