Samsung’s connected sets are billed as Internet @TV, though, despite the name, you don’t actually have access to the whole internet. Instead, what you have is a Yahoo widget engine, with a selection of straightforward options like weather, news headlines, share prices and a handful of games. All of them are accessed by tapping a dedicated button on the remote.
There are also Twitter and YouTube widgets, plus Teletext Holidays and Horoscopes - the Widget gallery boasts a total of 14 applets. Again, others are promised, including an iPlayer widget, but not all will be compatible with older sets; we tested on a 7000 series, which can work with an optional WiFi adaptor.
While Panasonic’s YouTube app looks a little cramped, the Samsung one makes rather better use of the available screen space, but fails to translate that to ease of use. Its on-screen search keyboard is presented in alphabetical order and you have to move the cursor to each letter, then click – somewhat laborious. More annoying, there’s no facility to save details of your YouTube account, so you can’t pick up favourites that have been saved on a computer.
DLNA playback is accessed in a number of ways: you can choose it from a list of inputs, or from a dedicated button on the remote control. As well as DLNA servers, you can also play back content from a USB storage device; in fact, some features are accessible only from that, like choosing background music for a photo slide show or selecting the type of display. Using my Synology NAS, I wasn’t able to select anything other than the default view for browsing media files. While it’s certainly prettier than the Panasonic’s folder navigation, it actually feels a bit clunkier to use, perhaps because you can’t see all the names, in a folder, and have to scroll to each one to read it properly.
Searching YouTube would be easier with a better keyboard
That niggle aside, the format support is by far the best of the bunch, with MPEG 2, DivX, WMV, Xvid and even MKV – just about everything I threw at it played, including some Nasa HD clips, with the exception of DivX HD files and some QuickTime samples.
Audio is a little less well supported, with just MP3 listed, so I had to rely on the NAS to transcode AAC files, but that worked well enough.
Just give me a dumb display...
... that allows me to connect, through a standardised port, the newest low-powered tech which comes along, that will do all the processing and content delivery, and can be replaced with the next, better thing, without disposing of my perfectly good dumb display, as and when I see fit.
Let us be absolutely honest......
....this is crap. Connect a bloody pc to the thing for crying out loud, then you have proper internet TV. Most of the modern flat screens come with three or four HDMI ports or (if you absolutely insist on connecting that way) a VGA port. This is a very poor facility which smells strongly of trying to lock you into something which they can use to seperate from even more money than the frakking TV cost you in the first place. The only thing I intend to use the ethernet port on our new Sammy for is firmware upgrades when/if necessary. TV@internet my arse!
Reliance on 'standardised' DLNA
I own a Sony KDL40W5500 and trying to get the DLNA to work is certainly not for the technologically challenged. I have finally settled on a solution that works great for me and my (not so technical) wife, but it's taken a while. Though I run an all Linux shop at home, the forums show problems for people on all platforms and this seems to recur for TVs with DLNA from all manufacturers.
For the record, the W5500 (and their siblings) support MPEG2 PS with AC3 audio and AVCHD video (MPEG2 TS with H264 video and AC3 audio) without transcoding, and also MP3, uncompressed PCM (i.e. WAV) and JPEG files.
My biggest niggle now is that you can't browse music for the next track to play while currently playing a track - something my Netgear MP101 was able to do via UPnP 7-8 years ago!
To those stating that they want TVs with a MCE extender built in... why would anyone want to be more tied to MS technology in their display device?? At least DLNA is supposed to be a standard, MCE extenders certainly are not.
Why on earth would anyone buy this?
Built-in means lock-in. A cheap external Internet thin client STB that can be thrown away when the next technology wunder comes along will be a much better bet. Pile in a hefty network disk store and scoff at Internet TV.
And BTW why are TV with analogue receivers still sold when soon there will be nothing for them to receive? Is this not as suspect as selling a 405-line set of a betamax video recorder?
Looking at that motley lot, it's not hard too look wistfully at Project Canvas and the treasures it might unleash. Why the disbelief that allowing access to a tiny, pre-selected section of the internet is going to be a successful selling point?