So I finally unboxed and installed my Samsung Smart TV (UEH6240). Just been a day and im not quite used to it, but I feel from a UX point-of-view the first impressions of the device are more important.
The TV itself is quite nice, I havent tried true 1080p to see how detailed it is, but I’ll get to that later.
It comes with one remote which has reasonably large rubber buttons and clearly labelled. Will take a while to get used to it, but its not bad. There are no buttons on the TV itself so make sure you always have batteries in the remote (or hook up a BT KB or Mourse to it).
Remote-to-TV is teeny bit laggy IMHO, cant go too fast, but its not really slow.
When the TV boots up, you get a bit of a demo video. Here is where I have the most problems though. There is a setup wizard that lets you setup network etc quite quickly but there is no onboarding. There definitely needed to be an onboarding tutorial for the remote, tv settings and especially the TV UX.
The main reason I emphasise on the TV UX onboarding is that its really crap. There is no labeling/text at most places, its hard to see where you need to go and what can be done.
So lets go to the Samsung TV Interface, (I probably should post up images here).
It seems you end up with 4 screens. The home screen is very SPARSE! There is a strip at the bottom with links to your recently used apps. On top of that is a small button tab thing (3 icons in it in my case). This takes you to the remaining 3 screens which seem to be the Samsung SmartHub app.
There is no labelling on any of the screens so you really dont know where you are and what the screen is called.
So the first of these screens is the Games screen where you can install games. So far none of them worked for me and they all asked me for a Samsung SmartHub account (more problems on that front later!). There is no way to search for the games, you have 8 or 10 games showcased on the main screen, and you can go to categories/whats new.
The second screen is the Samsung Apps screen which is similar. It does display all your installed apps but you cannot search for new apps. There are sections for popular, whats new, and categories. Its a bit of a pain to scroll these at times as scrolling to the right or left will change your screen.
The third screen is about media. It seems to display online radio stations or other video sources. I still have not figured out what is supposed to happen on this screen.
Ok, a very confusing UX, but what about the platform and connectivity?
Samsung SmartHub account
I fell at the first hurdle. Reluctantly I went to the Samsung website to create an account, but it told me my email address was already in use. Great, lets use the old account then. While I could sign into that account from my PC, it failed to login to SmartHub with some obscure error. I will try again with my TV but i doubt it will work. And this is the bane of most of my problems and the whole platform is tied into this account so I wont be able to do anything
Connecting to your phone
I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 (running 4.1) and a Moto G (running 5.0) so I thought I would be covered, Samsung loves Android, right? Cant be more wrong, complete fragmentation. It told me to install AllShare or SmartView2 on my phones. I tried various samsung apps on both phones. The S3 wasnt accepted since it wasnt running KitKat, and the Moto G wasnt accepted since it wasnt a Samsung phone. Out of the box it seems I wont be able to use any of my phones with the TV which is quite frankly incredibly disappointing as there is definitely not a technological limitation, just a fragmentation on Samsungs own focus.
I need to check how it plays out with iPhones but im not too hopeful on that.
Connecting to your PC
So TVs have supported protocols like DLNA and Miracast for a long time, so this should be easy, right?
Well out of the box, again I’m told to install various things on my PC that I cannot find or download or sign in to. Again very disappointing.
I’m going to give Plex a go on this as this is pretty much my ONLY option short of needed an HTPC.
AllShare SmartView2 all that crap and confusion. I feel this platform lacks focus, and updates break things.
What I expect from a Smart TV
Connectivity. I just expect the TV can connect to my phone, my PC, my cable provider all via network so I dont have to install useless apps or sign in to services i dont want to use. In the future I hope Virgin and Sky will stream everything (the Netflix way), so set top boxes will be made redundant. There is a sad issue of standardization on smart tv apps and technologies which suggests app development will be only manufacturer specific. Possibly AndroidTV will change this, but that still has a while to do. Personally I would prefer an HTPC setup for the flexibility, but SmartTVs are cheap and widely available so you might end up with one even if you dont care about them.