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