Smarter screens

New tech­nol­ogy is hit­ting the small screen this year, writes Jen­nifer Dud­leyNi­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

IT’S a big year for the small screen. Not only is the world’s big­gest sport­ing event just 93 days away, the tele­vi­sion will this year have to com­pete with a plethora of other screens in the house, from smart­phones to tablets.

Three of the world’s big­gest elec­tron­ics com­pa­nies have launched new TV ranges to counter that threat — all of­fer new ways to use the TV in con­junc­tion with other tech­nol­ogy, from phones to voice com­mands.

Want to change the TV chan­nel? Tell the re­mote con­trol. Want to watch a dif­fer­ent chan­nel in a dif­fer­ent room? Grab a tablet and stream it.

Couch pota­toes will even be able to surf the web with hand sig­nals this year, as TVS get smarter. while stream­ing an­other live TV show to an ipad or An­droid tablet in an­other room.

The tablet sim­ply has to be con­nected to a user’s home wi-fi net­work and run­ning the newly re­leased Pana­sonic app.

Mar­ket­ing gen­eral man­ager Richard Tas­sone says the Smart Link sys­tem uses two TV tuners in­side the Blu-ray recorder — one for each TV sig­nal. As a re­sult, users can stream con­tent to a tablet in an­other room even when the con­nected TV is turned off.

Sam­sung di­rec­tor Phil New­ton says with their Al­lshare Play fea­ture and two tuners in­side the TV, his wife could watch Grand Designs on the tele­vi­sion while he streamed a foot­ball game to his tablet.

‘‘ I just hop on to my smart­phone or tablet and I can in­ter­ro­gate the TV and look at an­other source from that TV in an­other room,’’ he says.

LG also de­buted tablet con­nec­tiv­ity in its new TV range in an ad­di­tion called Sec­ond Dis­play that lets users stream what­ever is on the TV screen to an An­droid tablet on the same wi-fi net­work. The voice, gesture and fac­ere­cog­ni­tion TV con­trols an­nounced at this year’s Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show are fi­nally avail­able.

LG added a mi­cro­phone to its Magic Re­mote, let­ting users talk into the de­vice to en­ter search terms or web­site ad­dresses on to the TV screen.

Sam­sung’s new re­mote con­trol also fea­tures a mi­cro­phone, and the com­pany has added mi­cro­phones and a built-in cam­era to some TVS for face and gesture recog­ni­tion.

New­ton says the high­def­i­ni­tion TV cam­era can recog­nise faces and log users into ac­counts on the smart TVS au­to­mat­i­cally. ‘‘ Why do you need face recog­ni­tion? The real ben­e­fit comes in the ap­pli­ca­tions,’’ he says. ‘‘ When you ask the TV to open your Skype ac­count it recog­nises your face and opens your spe­cific Skype ac­count.’’

The cam­era also recog­nises ges­tures, let­ting users wave their hand to move a cur­sor across the screen or make a fist to se­lect an item.

Voice con­trols let users wake the Sam­sung smart TV from a sleep by stat­ing ‘‘ Hi TV’’ and per­form ba­sic tasks with com­mands such as ‘‘ vol­ume up’’ or ‘‘ chan­nel down’’. While Sam­sung boasts the big­gest share of 3D TV sales, New­ton says pro­mot­ing its ac­tive 3D TV fea­ture will not be a pri­or­ity this year.

‘‘ 3D doesn’t drive con­sumer con­sump­tion,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s sim­ply a fea­ture that cus­tomers ex­pect now.’’

In stark con­trast, LG con­tin­ued to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of its 3D Cinema dis­play, which of­fers pas­sive 3D vi­sion through cheaper, po­larised glasses, like movie the­atres.

LG will also use its tech­nol­ogy in a unique way for the Dual-play gam­ing fea­ture. It shows a dif­fer­ent game screen to two play­ers. Larger than life: Pana­sonic will of­fer pas­sive 3D on some screens.

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