by JASMINE ELSHAMY Photo/Video Editor
Everyone knows that televisions have been getting wider, thinner, and packing in more and more pixels for the past couple decades, and there is not that much more to be improved physically about televisions. The real evolution of the wonderful box is taking place on the inside of their wide, gleaming forms, through software changes that could revolutionize everything.
Major TV manufacturers, including Sharp, Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic, announced their latest television sets this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. There was not anything eye-catchingly different from one manufacturer’s product to another on the exterior, what with the Ultra HD and OLED screens, more inches (60, 85, 110), and so on. Price tags, of course, are one thing that still remain in the four-digit zone.
The changes that really had heads turning at the show were the smartphone and tablet-like options for televisions. Having to flip through channels the manual way (you know, not scrolling away, actually having to move your thumb up and down on the remote?) has become quite a tedious task to many, compared to the ease of having everything a simple tap away.
Nintendo has already integrated the use of another tablet on their newest game console, the Wii U, but it is not as simple to use as some of the features shown off by Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and all of our other friends down in TV Land (no pun intended!).
Samsung showed a revamped, busy interface called the Smart Hub that will appear on its next generation of smart TVs. It is divided into five sections for live TV and recommendations, streaming content, media stored on the computer, social features, and apps.
One new feature retailers will love is T-Commerce, which will serve up shopping information for the products and outfits you see in your regular TV shows. The new Panasonic DT60 set has a customizable home screen and voice commands.
Having hundreds upon hundreds of channels, in both high and standard definition, is not enough for this generation anymore, especially since instant streaming has become so popular on websites such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and other sources, like illegal websites. Therefore, Smart TVs are adding support for these Web-based services. For example, Samsung is adding a way to search multiple content sources at once, similar to Matcha.com and CanIStream.it.
“To be frank, I rarely watch live television. I just use Netflix, HBO Go, or the show network’s website,” explains sophomore Yazmyne Abbot.
Admit it, between refreshing our Twitter feed, catching up on your latest fanfiction, HBO, shopping for articles of clothing that make you look hipster or geek-chic, and silently criticizing all of the imbeciles on your Facebook newsfeed, there is not that much energy left in you to use the remote, which is so inconveniently placed on the other side of the couch. TV makers are adding new ways to navigate between these, including gestures and voice control. A perfect blend between Siri and the Wii, according to CNN.
TV makers also are making apps that can turn tablets and smartphones into remote controls for your set.
LG’s latest Magic Remote, announced on Monday, acts like a mouse, letting you navigate a pointer around the TV screen by moving the remote. It supports voice-recognition commands and lets you switch channels by waving the remote around to spell out numbers.
“Having all of these new tools integrated into the television’s systems are going to be a really great asset to the manufacturers,” says sophomore Lauren Gaskel. “Who wouldn’t want to be able to use their phone as a remote? It gives us a reason to keep it glued to us at all times and would bring channel wars to an end quickly.”
Touché, Lauren. Touché.