How to Buy Smart TVs Page 4


Picture + Picture

One Smart TV-related feature that’s just now starting to gain momentum is Second Screen. Most of the applications that have been released are designed for viewing supplementary content such as character bios, previous episode plot summaries, and video on a tablet or smartphone. You can download them for some Blu-ray titles and apps for TV shows like True Blood and Boardwalk Empire are forthcom- ing. But with smartphones/tablets beginning to become something of an extra appendage — a re- cent CEA report cites a Nielsen Company study that found that “45 percent of tablet owners multitask on two screens every day” — there’s potential for these apps to become just as compelling as the program featured on the main screen, particularly for sports and financial news where there’s an excess of related data that can’t all be contained in a streaming banner.

Moving beyond mere apps, Microsoft’s SmartGlass, a new technology that the company announced at the 2012 E3 videogame conference, is a platform that lets you use your Xbox console?as an interactive control center?for Second Screen and Smart TV features. One SmartGlass example the company demo’d involved?the HBO show Game of Thrones. As the multiple threads of the show, viewed via HBO GO on the Xbox, unraveled, a viewer could follow along on a tablet using an interactive map that highlighted where exactly in the fictional land of Westeros the action was taking place, along with info about that particular region. Microsoft plans for SmartGlass to be platform-neutral: It can run on iOS and Android as well as Windows 8 devices. When you combine the processing capabilities of the Xbox with the powerful gesture-tracking and voice-recognition features that the system’s Kinect add-on hardware provides, SmartGlass could very well end up being the Smart TV system to beat.