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article imageOp-Ed: CES 2013 - Is it consumers or companies that want Smart TVs?

By Leigh Goessl     Jan 8, 2013 in Technology
Smart TVs are one of the items being showcased at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with companies introducing what's to come on the market. But are Smart TVs really what the consumer market wants?
Smart TVs, or television sets that integrate with the Internet, had already previously been introduced as the next generation of TVs. Not unlike many other gadgets or electronics that have been linked with Internet capabilities, it appears television is definitely the next group of electronics to make the leap into the online space in a big way.
Reporting from this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, journalist Andrew J. Nusca posed the question of whether or not smart TVs are really what consumers want.
Interesting question. In his article Nusca noted that no one he's spoken to who aren't tech-centric care about these features, and many readers of ZDNet actually speak out against it.
Consider some pros and cons of smart TVs:
Features of Smart TVs
The benefits of Smart TV are aligned with a seamless TV viewing experience that is more heavily involved than the days of old where one switched on a TV set, turned a dial and sat down to watch. Over time televisions went digital, remote controls, and DVRs were added, now we have Smart TVs.
Smart TVs bring the Internet space right to your TV. You can watch YouTube videos, play games, have video conferences, check into social media accounts and use different apps designed to connect TV with online activities. Business Insider mentions Netflix and Hulu streaming as well.
These high-tech televisions have ability to provide recommendations of what to watch based on what friends are watching and information may be stored by the consumer on a mobile device. Then there is augmented reality to consider. This technology already had been occurring, however, with Smart TVs, some may see this as a benefit as it blurs the lines between "real" and virtual, enhancing the digital TV experience.
A 24  Samsung SyncMaster P2470HN LCD TV/monitor displaying Wikipedia page along with a television ch...
A 24" Samsung SyncMaster P2470HN LCD TV/monitor displaying Wikipedia page along with a television channel within a PiP (Picture-in-Picture) at the top right corner (2011 model)
Smart TVs can help consumers select what to view on television. According to Business Insider, the new Smart TVs "goal is to replace the clunky TV menu from cable/satellite provider or TiVo and give you a better way to figure out what's playing and what you can stream". In this respect, the convenience factor would likely be considered a definite advantage by many consumers.
Potential Drawbacks of Smart TVs
The drawbacks associated with Smart TVs generally appear to align with the same concerns typically linked with any other digital device, most notably privacy and security. Over the past year, maybe two, several concerns have emerged about Smart TVs getting exploited or afflicted with malware.
Possible problems that have been noted include hackers merging porn into children's programming, spying through cameras included in the TVs, eavesdropping, loss of sensitive data, and access to personal information, to name a few. Additionally, there's the facial recognition factor to consider.
NBC raised several valid security and privacy questions; Samsung later responded.
In Nov. 2012, a report in Computerworld said, "Like most technology in its “infancy,” security will not be addressed until something bad happens to a lot of people and then security will be bolted on as an afterthought." The article goes on to highlight potential risks that may come with Smart TVs.
Although, there is also the consideration that integrating Smart TVs into households further creates constant connection and just one more way to keep online all the time. Sometimes it's better to just pull the plug and disconnect for a while and veg out watching enlightening or even mindless TV.
What is it consumers really want?
So are consumers really clamoring for Smart TVs or are businesses simply looking to push them into the market and send traditional TV sets into extinction? Hard to say, but over the next few years Smart TVs will likely dominate the market and "dumb" TVs will fade into the background as other types of electronics have been sent into oblivion.
According to an article last year published by the Los Angeles Times, 100 million TVs are expected to be Internet connected by 2016. While right now these appear, on average, between $900 and $1,500 to purchase if Best Buy is any indicator, chances are the price will come down over the next couple of years.
However, there is also the consideration that, unlike mobile devices which are discarded relatively quickly, consumers tend to expect a longer shelf life of a TV. Will people be happy with their expensive TVs as new features are added in future models? TechDirt offers its perspective as to why consumers are likely not to immediately jump on and ride the Smart TV trend.
Over time technology is replaced regardless of how well consumers resonate with a product, this is how technology progression works. Consider music and reading materials; people still claim to love their tangible items, yet digital sales are still outpacing traditional CDs (and its predecessors), books and magazines.
Either way it seems that Smart TVs are the next generation of TV, want it or not.
This year several companies are making big Smart TV announcements this year at CES 2013 including Samsung, Panasonic, and LG.
What do you think? Are you interested in owning a Smart TV?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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