Sony’s internet sets use the Applicast moniker, though this is changing to Internet Video on the upcoming 2010 models. I tested a Bravia W5500 series set, which has DLNA and Applicast, all accessed from the Home button on the remote, which takes you into Sony's PS3-derived XMB user interface.
Sony's XMB UI can be used to access DLNA servers
A little like Samsung’s system, Applicast displays a range of widgets, in this case at the side of the screen rather than along the bottom. There’s a world clock, alarm clock, calculator, RSS reader and a picture frame – and that’s pretty much it. You can, as the screenshot shows, add whatever RSS feeds you like, but the on screen keyboard is cumbersome to use – although it’s actually a mobile phone layout, the screen display does its best to hide that fact, and just makes things more confusing.
Accessing networked media via the media bar is cumbersome and possibly the least intuitive of the DLNA sets. And, as with some other Sony products, the DLNA badge here really means just the bare minimum: the only video I could play were .VOB files, and I only had any luck with music when the NAS was set to transcode everything to PCM. It was good to see the album cover when listening, but that’s not much consolation, frankly.
The lack of really useful Applicast content at the moment, and the limited format support for DLNA playback does make the Sony’s connectivity something of a damp squib. The saving grace is the availability of iPlayer on Freesat models.
Searching uses a mobile phone-style keypad on the remote
Sony has promised more content, though, and recently rolled out Lovefilm video on demand, though this only works if you have a subscription. Even then, the selection of available videos is very much smaller than the number of downloads Lovefilm offers through its website.
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?