LATE LAST YEAR, after years of staring at my dumb flat-screen TV, I began searching for something smarter. I thought it was time to switch to a smart Internet TV that would allow me to do what smarter wall-mounted panels are supposed to do — browse the Internet, access some basic apps, check email, play games and recognise hand gestures.
Make no mistake. There are plenty of “smart” TVs being hawked around Singapore. The problem is that most of them are expensive, clunky, not quite as user-friendly as you might expect and indeed aren’t quite selling like hot cakes. However, all the TV salesmen I encountered during my search told me these issues are not stopping lots of people from trying them out. You still can’t find one that will switch channels or turn up the volume with voice commands but, if media reports are to be believed, Apple, Samsung Electronics, Sony and others are all working on voice-activated, gesture-controlled smart panels that will also allow me to read my email during commercial breaks or quickly search websites in the midst of time-off in a football match.
In the end, after a two-week search — during which I went from almost buying something I didn’t really want to wondering why consumer electronics firms have dragged their feet at innovation when it comes to the product that most of us watch almost every day — I decided that I would rather wait another year or so for Google, Apple or Samsung to deliver the hardware I really need. But it dawned on me during my quest for the right TV that what I really needed from my TV wasn’t just a wall panel to recognise my hand gestures and voice commands but to deliver a variety of must-watch content as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Clearly, TV is no longer what it used to be. I already have a smartphone, a tablet and an Apple TV set-top box that allows me to download movies from iTunes and beam them to my three-year-old flat-screen TV. Truth be told, the TV on my living room wall long ceased to be the only device that I use to watch videos or recorded or live TV. I often watch CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg TV clips as well as YouTube on my tablet.