Though Smart TVs are the rage at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, calling a TV smart doesn't make it worth buying. So far, we've seen the Samsung Smart TV with access to Direct TV without an extra box, the Nuance Smart TV with voice and motion control software and Lenovo's Smart TV with Android's Ice Cream Sandwich operating system -- just to name a few. But, beware: "smart" doesn't mean much of anything.
The evolution from TV's from dumb to smart isn't much of a revolution. "Smart" really means Internet connectivity plus any combination of other minor enhancements, like 3D viewing or motion controlled channel surfing. We've seen these types of "improvements" before and they have yet to draw TV buyers, sales lagging for these "tricked out" sets. That's because none of this stuff is particularly useful. Adding Internet to a TV doesn't make it a smart buy, even though, that's all it takes to get the distinction.
But, given that very low bar, we should expect a deluge of TVs to all of a sudden tell us they are the smart choice, predicts PaidContent's Andrew Ladbrook, which suggests connected TV sales will rise from 52.4 million in 2011 to 92.3 million in 2012. Though, that's Still a very small number compared to 2011's 218 million TV set sales. Until televisions really innovate, offering the total cable-less package -- we're looking at you Apple -- we're not sure this "smart TV" revolution will really take off.
It's not all disappointment in the TV department, though, with innovation happening in the not-so-smart TV set realm. At least that's what a gadget blogger we trust, Brian Lam, assures us. "The real action in TVs is, as always, not with the mega high end concept televisions but the Panasonic and Samsung plasma TVs that are the ones people will end up owning," he writes on The Wirecutter, discussing the televisions at CES that impressed him. Those include a super widescreen HDTV from Vizio, "king of cheap TVs" and Samsung's latest plasma HDTV.