At first it was TV, then VCR, DVDs and DVR players, and now it’s Smart TV! In this era of digital convergence, it is only a matter of time before Internet streaming from your TV will become ubiquitous. The proliferation of tablets, mobile phones, connected appliances and more recently Smart TVs is driving the demand for connectivity. According to a report from Nielsen, 94% of consumers who were surveyed for a study on Internet TV said that they would prefer to be able to access digital content or surf the web on their TVs.
According to a recent IDC report, IP-traffic in the Middle East has been growing at astonishing rates with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 52%. In addition, operators in the region have already introduced bandwidth services reaching speeds up to 32 Mbps. For consumers, this means having the ability to discover a new world of web connected TV entertainment that will allow them to easily stream a full HD 3D movie online, browse the web, explore apps, chat real time and find several other types of new interactive TV content.
So, as bandwidth issues are mitigated with the development of advanced broadband technologies and infrastructure, more users will consider purchasing Smart TVs to access the Internet, chat with friends or look for a new recipe for dinner. Furthermore, a recent report by DisplaySearch has predicted the global market for connected TVs will rise to 67 million units in 2011, up from 40 million in 2010.
Samsung, a leader in digital convergence technologies recently launched its latest collection of Smart TVs in the region. The new Smart TVs support the diverse requirements of streaming, entertainment and high speed Internet services on a truly converged yet cost-effective platform.
Justin Shaw, Samsung’s Audio Visual General Manager in GCC, believes that the increasing need for Smart TVs is being driven by changing consumer habits. “Consumers today are seeking high quality definition and a range of entertainment and viewing options along with access to a variety of online content from their TVs. Majority of people already have high-speed broadband in their homes and with the increased availability of premium content via the Internet, manufacturers like Samsung are capitalizing on their desire to access Internet content on large television screens from the comfort of their home. The time is right for consumer adoption of Smart, connected TVs.”
Samsung’s Smart TVs come equipped with the “Smart Hub” feature which is an interface to all Samsung Smart features and offers a simple menu system that is easy to connect; discover and enjoy a wide range of content. Using the Smart Hub interface, users can easily search for movies, shows and videos via online services and across connected devices; browse the Web from their TV and access a wide variety of applications from Samsung Apps. The Smart Hub includes features such as AllShare, Search All, Samsung Apps, Second TV, Web Browser and Social TV (a very vital feature considering how everything around us is going social).
Through the “AllShare” feature you can create a wireless DLNA network among all your DLNA-compatible digital devices, including mobile phones, notebooks and digital cameras. Movies, pictures and music can be shared to expand your entertainment mediums anywhere without having to switch devices. Samsung Smart TVs also support ConnectShare, which allows users to enjoy multi-media movies, music or photos directly on their TV by connecting a USB memory stick using true plug-and-play technology.
The ‘Social TV’ and ‘Web browser’ features support your online life in your SMART TV. The Social TV feature integrates social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Talk with your SMART TV. While watching the latest episode of American Idol, the Smart TV allows you to tweet or Facebook with your friends and family in real-time from a side panel on the TV screen. Samsung’s built in ‘Full Web Browser’ behaves exactly as your regular PC browser but for TV with full flash video support. And lastly, Second TV is a Samsung proprietary feature that allows you to stream visual content such as videos between devices where you will be able to push Blu-ray, DVD and live TV from your screen to other Samsung devices such as Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S smartphones.
With continued focus on providing consumers the best in digital home entertainment technologies like the Smart TV, manufacturers like Samsung are advancing the adoption of these devices. Furthermore, the advent of Smart TVs ensures that users now can exercise control over choice and personalize their viewing experiences while always being connected. In a world where content is converging across connected devices, it is important that relevant and smart technologies are continuously introduced into the market to ensure that consumers can stay connected from anywhere and at any time.