Although in theory cramming all the digital media you'll ever use into one central device in the home might sound like a great idea initially, for me, the reality is quite the opposite and as as result I think the Smart TV is dead on arrival.
The problem with Smart TVs, I think, is that they offer services that have nothing to do with TV viewing and thus are just easier to access from any device other than the TV. Families don't huddle around the television to use apps that they use all day on their smartphones, such as checking the weather. They sit there to watch live TV programming or, more recently, catch-up services.
I believe this because, admittedly, I have a Samsung Smart TV at home, which I bought in the conviction that I would use my TV as a "one for all" device, flicking from live Freeview programming to apps like Spotify while sending a few tweets and updating my Facebook status, all using a TV remote control.
It didn't take me long to realise that this wasn't nor ever would be the case and now prompts me to pose the question: Who really does use a Smart TV to perform non-TV related tasks? I would have a random stab at "hardly anyone". It's simply much quicker and easier to perform activities as tweeting, listening to Spotify or playing games from your laptop, tablet or smartphone - a device that won't ever be more than a few meters from the palm of your hand anyway.
Another factor in my belief that Smart TVs are a waste of money is the substantial growth in media catch-up and on-demand steaming devices, which can be bought for relatively low prices as add-ons to existing television sets, such as Apple TV, Youview and consoles like the Xbox and Playstation, thus bypassing the need to use any of a Smart TVs' built-in services.
This week has been a particular indicator of this growing trend. Take for instance on Wednesday, when Google announced Chromecast.
Set to rival Apple TV, Chromecast is little more than an HDMI dongle and once it's plugged into a TV, if you want to watch Youtube, for example, you simply go to the same Youtube app on your laptop or tablet and press the 'cast' button to play it on your TV. This makes the second screen viewing easier and also cheaper than ever, as - although UK availability has yet to be revealed - the Google Chromecast dongle will be available in the US for just $35.
A Smart TV for a premium, or a cheaper entry-level TV with the same quality screen and a Chromecast dongle for an additional price equivalent to about £20? I know which I'd go for.
Today, the announcement of a £9.99 Now TV set-top box by Sky, giving any TV set direct access to its on-demand streaming service, was the deciding factor for this "Smart TV is dead" rant.
Sky's Now TV box, which comes bundled with a remote control, connects any TV wirelessly to the internet and gives viewers access to Sky Movies and Sky Sports programming for a monthly fee or on a pay as you go basis, along with free access to catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, the BBC News App and Sky News. This, for me, eliminates the whole idea of paying a premium for Smart TVs. I found it funny, too, that Sky's Now TV set-top box launch came just days after Sky announced a deal with LG to bring Now TV directly to ther firm's Smart TV platform, a move that proved Sky's mistrust in the future of Smart TVs.
Possessing the same features of a smartphone, which are usually due an upgrade after a year or two of use, Smart TVs also raise the question of the price to life ratio: How long it will last before it "goes out of date", so to speak? Since it has a much higher price than an average smartphone, you'd expect to hold on to your TV for at least five or even 10 years, so surely its in-built features, that resemble a smartphone, suggest that the Smart TV will be out of date way before you're ready to invest in another.
Samsung, which probably is the one company that is pushing its Smart TV devices more than any other manufacturer, has tried to eliminate this problem with the introduction of its Smart evolution TVs, which aim to "future proof" its Smart TVs by enabling its software to be updated easily.
Nevertheless, Samsung will never be able to know the future of TV well enough to "future-proof" them and, in my opinion, it's a far safer bet to invest in the lower priced additional "smart" add-ons, such as Apple TV, TiVo, Youview, BT Vision, or the new Chromecast and Sky Now TV boxes. µ