The power of internet TV is about to be realised

14 May 2009

Samsung’s new family of LED-based TVs come with widgets for Yahoo!, Flickr and YouTube. Kevin Maguire is country manager, Consumer Electronics, at Samsung Ireland.

Because of the recession, and with fewer people going out, are they spending more on home-entertainment technology?

That would be our expectation and the view across our industry. It’s a difficult time to judge, but from Samsung’s point of view, new products that have entered Irish stores have hit the ground running.

Across the world, compared to Q1, we are seeing a resurgence of sales because our old TV families have reached the end of their product life and people are anticipating the new LED [light emitting diode] technologies.

The overall consumer electronics market is under pressure, there’s no denying that, and prices are down 20pc. But there’s been no slide in quality, and Irish consumers are still buying bigger and bigger screens.

Blu-ray is also picking up momentum quite nicely. The value is out there. Last year, a Blu-ray home-theatre kit would have cost around €1,000, today you can get one for less than €500.

What does LED-based television promise?

LED TVs are the future of wide-screen TV technology. Compared to a traditional cathode ray tube TV, LEDs produce darker blacks that appear endlessly deep to the eye. Whites also remain crisp and bright with vivid colours. The result is a much more lifelike picture quality.

LED TVs are also mercury-free, which adds another degree of environmental friendliness and safety. Energy consumption is reduced by 40pc-plus versus traditional LCD TVs of a similar size.

Samsung’s latest high-definition TVs allow you to bring internet content from Yahoo! and YouTube to the living room. Is this a major paradigm shift?

While not fully internet accessible yet, these widgets are effectively small internet applications that allow you to update immediately things such as your favourite pictures from Flickr or YouTube videos if you are logged in.

We are working with other internet companies to bring more and more internet applications onto the big screen in the living room.

Because the internet is rife with viruses, I’m not sure the world is ready for TVs to have the same functionality as PCs, but widgets provide control and can keep the TV safe.

What other innovations are happening out there that are making the living room TV more of a cyber experience?

The latest generation of TVs come with USB ports as well as the usual HDMI and SCART ports.

TV manufacturers are increasingly subscribing to the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), which allows TVs to stream content to and from the latest multimedia devices.

For example, if you have a movie stored on your laptop, you are now able to send it wirelessly to the TV via Wi-Fi.

If that’s possible, then think about being able to send content from your mobile phone and MP3 player and vice-versa.

What is the DLNA initiative all about and where will this drive the next generation of consumer electronics devices?

The DNLA is a wider industry standard that not only Samsung, but also manufacturers like Philips and Sony are subscribing to.

It is not just about big devices like TVs, but also for devices such as digital cameras and mobile phones. Ourselves and Nokia already have DLNA functionality on certain mobile phones.

Very soon the hard drive on your mobile phone could be the hard drive for your life.

By John Kennedy