Living with a Smart TV (Part 1)

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I have been looking for a new television for the past few weeks. I looked hardest on Black Friday and after my experience, resolved to buy a TV on the web.  The story didn’t end there.

Some of you may remember my aversion to Smart TV.  I vowed to never buy one.  They seemed like a redundancy in a world of game consoles and iOS devices.  Well–long story short–I bought one.  Their proliferation made it difficult to find a well-equipped unit without the functionality.

The model I picked up was the Samsung UN50ES6100, a 50″ LED LCD.

Deep down I was excited to get a Smart TV.  Not because I secretly longed for the feature-set, but because now I could put my money where my mouth is after giving such strong opinions on it.  My previous experiences were short and shallow.  Maybe living with a Smart TV will prove me wrong. If you recall our piece on Vizio, Smart TVs aren’t devices that consumers use in a manner consistent with their other devices.  Unlike using their smartphones or tablets every day, users tend to use Smart TV functions once a week.  So perhaps using a Smart TV over the course of a month will give me a true idea of how these devices are meant to be used.

I will break down my review into a few sections.  I will start with design, picture quality and initial Smart TV impressions.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive review.  I also just moved into a new home and have no television service.  That alone will add another dimension to my review.  I will periodically post impressions of using the Smart TV over time–as your typical user would.  Hopefully the totality of my thoughts will help you with a future TV Purchase.

Alright, let’s get started.


It is a beautiful piece of tech. Its thin sleek design is a compliment to any room.  It does, however, come with an assertively designed stand that may clash with certain design motifs (unless wall mounted, of course).  I personally have no qualms with the design and prefer the black bezel to the stainless steel that I’m seeing on some newer models.


Let me start by saying that my first impression of the picture was genuine shock.  I watched scenes of The Dark Knight, Inception and Toy Story 3 on Blu Ray.  I also played a few rounds of Halo 4 and Forza 4.  The picture blew me away each time.  The clarity is amazing.

For some, the picture may be a little too clear.  The “auto-motion” plus feature causes what many people call the “soap opera” effect.  Many complain that HD movies resemble behind the scenes footage more than the fantastical picture quality we’ve grown accustomed to.  Some believe this to be a step in the wrong direction.  I agree that it is a strange sensation, but can’t simply condemn it for the sake of being different.

Once the honeymoon period wore off, I did notice blurriness with fast movement.  Any fast movement causes an annoying ghosting effect in movies.  Video games seemed fine.  I will have to play with the settings to see if I can lessen this. I’ll keep you posted.

Smart TV

I was greeted with an update screen upon first boot-up.  The update took about five minutes. Not too bad.  Samsung’s Smart TV suite is called Smart Hub.  The Smart Hub screen gives you a variety of Smart Apps to choose from.  I began with Pandora–which worked beautifully as it filled my home with Christmas music. The set up is similar to the desktop client.

Encouraged, I moved on to Amazon Instant Video–a service I use a lot.  It did not work properly.  The TV froze each time I attempted to launch the app. The only fix was turning the TV off and back on again.

The Youtube app works well, but low quality videos look awful.  Blowing YouTube videos up to 50 inches and attempting to “automotion plus” them makes for a really frightening experience.  All I remember is keyboard cat, a melting keyboard, and screams of “turn it off!!”

I can sum up my initial thoughts of Smart TV in one word: slow.  The UI is simply not as quick as our computers or phones.  I find that to be a huge disappointment and don’t see my device speeding up anytime soon.  Speed is one thing that manufacturers can improve on future models.  It may be a reason to wait for the next generation of devices, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

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