The television watching experience has been progressively changing over the past few years. “With many South Africans starting to get used to the idea of watching content online, television manufacturers need to find innovative ways of providing consumers with the best of both worlds,” says Matthew Thackrah, Deputy MD and Head of Consumer Electronics and IT Solutions at Samsung South Africa.
In recent times, many consumers have replaced their old CRT TVs with thinner plasma or LCD high definition models that make standard definition broadcasting seem ordinary.
There is something to be said for watching a Super Rugby game in glorious HD. Even movies and TV shows become more life-like and engaging with incredible visual effects, making for a more immersive experience.
Some might argue that if a consumer purchased an HD TV just a couple of years ago then why would they consider upgrading this unit with a new model today? Well, the short answer is the rise of Smart TVs. These support not only high definition content but also more user interactive features that will continue to evolve as manufacturers become more innovative, broadband access more pervasive, and data costs affordable.
Suddenly, a TV becomes more than a one-way piece of communication. By being able to download apps (similar to the smartphone experience), users can customise their TV to suit their viewing and entertainment requirements.
Samsung’s Smart TVs for example, already come with front-facing cameras that let users interact simply by making gestures. Imagine swiping your hand in front of your TV and, a la science-fiction movies, you control the menu without having to rely on a remote control. But it goes further than that.
Voice control and facial recognition are all important new components of the age of Smart. Each family member has different entertainment requirements and by allowing for various profiles, the experience changes according to their unique needs. Dad might have a few sport apps while the kids enjoy their interactive games on the TV. Now there is no need to worry about who does what. Facial recognition takes care of everything by recognising the user and automatically logging in to the correct profile.
Being software-driven also means that Smart TVs can get automatically upgraded through internet downloads. Suddenly the TV turns into a Smart piece of equipment in the living room and becomes the hub for all the entertainment needs of the household. No more will family members split off to their rooms to do their own thing. Now they can all engage and have fun together in front of the same TV.
But the TV is not only restricted to the consumer environment. Even businesses will be able to benefit from Smart TVs. Collaboration and video conferencing is also much easier with the built-in camera on the new range of TVs. Investing in proprietary technology and systems become unnecessary.
This will be an interesting year for TVs. As people realise the numerous benefits of migrating to Smart, the value proposition is becoming more significant. “It is definitely an exhilarating time to be in the television space for both manufacturers and users alike,” concludes Thackrah.