New research indicates that smart TVs are becoming more and more popular world-wide. "Connected TV is largely driven by content," said Paul Gray, Director of TV Electronics Research for NPD DisplaySearch. That's true, of course, and our report on Video Streaming highlights some of the major content providers. There are also hundreds of smaller free and subscription-based providers offering everything from top blockbusters to niche and even homemade programming. However, not all is rosy when it comes to the growing world of smart TV.
Wanted: Smarter TV apps
We know that many owners of smart TVs never "get connected" either due to lack of interest or because they are stymied by the challenges of getting their TVs (or other Internet-enabled devices, such as Blu-ray players) on line in the first place. But research from Strategy Analytics indicates that something else might be going on as well: Using -- or even finding -- TV apps all-too-often just isn't very much fun.
Part of the problem is one of raised expectations. With the growth of smartphones and tablet computers, app users have become accustomed to certain levels of performance and usability. However, in comparison, what's available via TVs often just falls flat says Strategy Analytics. "All in all, smart TV manufacturers have a long way to go before they match the fast, intuitive user experience now familiar to owners of smartphones and tablets," notes the company's Caroline Park.
Speed is one issue, as TV app interfaces are typically flat out pokey compared to what users who've had their hands on either an Android or iOS mobile device now expect. The range of available apps is also relatively miniscule compared to the massive markets available via iTunes or Google Play. TV maker app stores are also not well curated, suffering from poor organization and the occasional non-usable app, the report says, discouraging more extensive usage.
While we wait for TV makers to get their app act together, there are some alternatives. One is a third-party digital media player, such as those from Roku or the D-Link Boxee Box. We've also seen some building excitement for the Infintec Pocket TV, which brings the full power of the Android operating system to any TV equipped with an HDMI port, though via a hardware line up that represents a lower-end mobile device, PCMag.com reports. It's being funded through Kickstarter.com -- and has already met its goal. Initial shipments are due to go out by October.