Samsung Smart TV and Smart Hub Internet TV Apps Review 2013
By Sophia Schmidt and Robert Wiley
Smart TV Smart Hub with Web Connected Apps
The redesign of the Smart Hub places content into five different pages. First is the Apps page that displays recommended and downloaded apps. Then there is the Social page that displays trending content along with tweets and facebook updates. The On TV page provides an onscreen guide to what is being broadcast live. The Movies and TV Shows page displays what is available from different internet content sources like Netflix, Hulu, Samsung Media Hub, and more. Lastly is the Photos, Music & Video page for viewing and watching content from smartphones, tablets, and computers directly or over a network.
Samsung Smart Hub Smart TV Platform 2012/2013 Samsung Smart TVs. The menu is well laid out and easy to use.
Samsung is very proud of the vast array of Apps they are now providing - over 1500 Apps – most of them small and priced between .99 and $2.99 but many are offered for free. Aside from that the usual premium channels options are also included. There is a new Search All feature to allow you to find videos via Apps or other connected devices as well. Social media hookups like Facebook and Twitter are of course present.
Samsung Apps menu within Smart Hub
Below is a brief description of some of the newer Apps that we reviewed with applicable ratings that we think they deserve:
- Time TV: A Time magazine breakdown. It gives clips on news articles similar to what you would find on most political news apps. It also has very good snapshots from recent articles as well as videos. However, attempting to watch the videos was a negative as most would not load and instead asked the user to visit Time's web site. The ones that did load were decidedly pitiful. Rating 2 out of 5. Memory usage was 256MB out of a possible 807MB.
- MTV Music Meter: Lists of musician/bands trending on the Internet. Click on one and the video plays. Listening to Bon Iver gave me another opportunity to test the speaks on the D6500 – not bad, good guitar rendition for TV speakers. There are also tweets, photos, and news options aside from the videos. Rating 4 out of 5.
- Family Story: Located prominently in Smart Hub, Samsung wants this to be an important feature App for you and even includes a dedicated button on the remote control for it. It basically allows you to input photos, and videos from Samsung tablets, smartphones to play on the TV. Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
- Fitness VOD App: Videos of workouts such as the “Sexy Chair Workout.” That one is pretty good, Great for dancers. There is a pretty wide assortment including light weights and yoga. But load times are painfully slow. Some of the Apps in the Fitness section are for sale, while some are free from Exercise TV. The instructions are pretty good. Rating 3.5 out of 5.
- MLB.tv: Major League baseball. There is a premium account option to be able to view video recaps of games. Otherwise, you just get a menu with today's games, and standings.
- Explore 3D: A selection of free Samsung licensed 3D content. There are many categories of 3D content here including, kids, sports, documentaries, music videos such as Britney Spears Femme Fatale Concert. It's a much better selection than other manufacturers. Rating 4 out of 5.
- Find the Jewelry: This is an example of a junky game App that's not worth your time. Rating 1 out of 5. There are many of these to go along with a lot of really good game Apps like Texas Holdem and Sudoku.
Time TV App
Samsung Smart Touch remote for accessing the voice control features
All you have to do is press the mic button on the remote to get the voice recognition going. This method of control is not terribly helpful in navigating around the Smart Hub. The touch pad on the remote is still going to be much faster. Searching is where the voice features really come in handy. After asking the TV “What movies are on right now?” it brought back exactly that. The results showed movies currently playing on Starz, HBO, and other channels. A search for “Johnny Depp” brought back a list of all his movies. The feature is a nice addition to further the functionality of the remote. It won't be the sole method for controlling the TV.
Overall, Samsung still has far and away the best Internet Apps selection of the TV manufacturers with categories, Videos, Most Popular, games, sports, lifestyle, information, education. There is much better free content than the other brands out there and the paid Apps are better and more reasonably priced as well. The Premium Apps such as the movie services, sports and music are also top notch.
OVERALL RATING for Samsung Smart TV Apps: 8.5/10
I searched the term Google through the web browser and it gave me lots of options, scrolling to the bottom yielded the true web browser search through Bing's results. In this browser, the arrow keys actually control the mouse and clicking on the browser tab brought up the full keyboard at which point I started typing lcdtvbuyingguide.com. Loading of web sites was not as slow as previous years. It's not a feature you will use much, but it is there if you are desperate. A QWERTY remote would come in handy, or LG's Magic Remote. There is a small PIP display bottom right of the picture to allow for program viewing while browsing.
When trying to use the mic for inputting text into a search field on Google or Bing, only the last word the mic heard was used. When I tried to search “LCD TV Buying Guide,” only the word 'Guide' was put in the search bar. It seemed like it wanted one word at a time, but that would add a lot more time than necessary.
Samsung's Web Browser with full keyboard (but slow operation)
Search results are provided by Bing. Search results loaded fast, but using the browser keyboard was painfully slow.
To visit the developers forum visit: https://www.samsungdforum.com
Below is a good introduction about how to get set up with Samsung's Smart Hub
Access this video to see an instructional video about how to use the Smart TV Social Media Functions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvETgYeMiUg&feature=relmfu
History of Samsung SmartTV
Close to 70 percent of the 2012/2013 HDTV Samsung models will have the Smart Hub installed on their systems. Smart Hub is Samsung's answer to the oncoming wave of internet tv. Offering more than 1500 apps now. Samsung is taking seriously its efforts to bring streamlined channels that are optimized for the consumer's viewing benefit while dealing with the technical aspects of managing bandwidth for optimized viewing. Beyond the expected Netflix and Hulu channels, sports channels like NHL and MLB, Samsung also offers viewers everything from games, videos, Facebook and Twitter links, a streamlined YouTube channel, and international cinema and news channels, including French cinema, for example. Samsung has taken a leadership role among HDTV manufacturers to provide open source for developers, which will bring many more programs, games and features to Samsung Smart Hub. Overall, SmartHub is an well-designed layout that sub segments types of channels in an intuitive way. Categories are broken down into sections such as sports, lifestyle, video, games and news.
One of the most interesting features that Samsung displayed is its Smart Search function, which Samsung also calls AllShare. All Share lets consumers type in any phrase, let's say the "Monk" tv series or "Winter 2010" photos and the proprietary search tool will find every item on their local home network. This means plenty of access to personal photos, videos and music. If consumers have a higher-end Samsung HDTV model with Smart Hub, Smart Search will also search through any of the subscribed channels on Smart Hub and also browse across the internet. We were pretty impressed with the search results we saw at the show. Today, Smart Hub is only available in English. No one at the CES show could confirm any additional languages available for the solution, but we anticipate that Spanish and French for the North American market will quickly follow.
Samsung Remote Controls Available on Smart Phones
Samsung Smart Hub remote control systems are also available for use on smartphones. Any Samsung internet ready HDTV gives user the option to add a remote control for their iPhone and iTouch. While Samsung showed a functioning Android remote app at CES, the Android app will be available for consumers by the middle of this year, if not earlier.
Samsung App on Smart TVs for Technical Issues
While not a big sales driving issue, we also want to mention the improved Samsung trouble shoot and informational app called SPSTV. Available on Smart Hub, Samsung provides useful videos on how to troubleshoot issues with multiple Samsung products, including all of their electronic lineups, from HDTVs to Samsung cameras, and even Samsung refrigerators and washer and dryers. Videos walk consumers through trouble shooting options which are short, to the point and display step by step functions.
Samsung has actively recruited TV Apps makers over the past year with the intent on quickly growing their Apps to #1 in the TV industry. These Apps are included in the Samsung Smart Hub Smart TV options on the companies LED and Plasma Televisions. They have succeeded in having the most Apps with well over 1000 to date. The challenge with a $225,000 prize pool is called the 2011 TV Challenge and it culminates at the CES 2012 show in Las Vegas. Following are the 3 Apps finalists for this contest to give you an idea of what they best Apps descriptions are like:
FREQSHO – music fans can create their own music channel to stream music from any artist using a smartphone, tablet or TV. An easy-to-use search engine helps users quickly find their favorite artists and social connectivity allows them to follow the latest artist information and tweets in real-time.
Let's Play Stop – an interactive word game that challenges players to come up with words that correspond to a random letter in five categories: country or city, body parts, fruits, colors and animals. The first person to complete the round with as many unique words as possible wins.
Party Shots – a fun, interactive way to enhance any party. Users simply download the app onto their smartphones, snap photos at the party and these photos will instantly be posted onto the Samsung Smart TV as part of a dynamic slide show. Photos may be customized with captions and stored via the app so that they can later be shared over the web.
To see the details on the challenge visit: https://FreeTheTvChallenge.com