While Smart TVs have been selling in droves over the last 12 months or more, the actual use of the “smart” part of the TV is known within the industry to be low. Samsung has accepted EFTM’s challenge at CES this year to redesign the interface with its redesigned Smart Hub on new model TVs in 2013.

Samsung Smart Hub 2013

Samsung Smart Hub 2013

Plenty of people are buying Smart TVs at the moment, although the bulk of them are just buying a new television that just happens to have smarts built in. Aussie consumers are upgrading to digital TV before the big switch off in 2014 and with the pressure to have the best TV among your mates as strong as ever we’re choosing big, feature rich panels.

Every manufacturer knows exactly what’s happening with those TVs. How many of them are connected, how many people are downloading apps, how many people are evening pressing that “Smart TV” button to access these features. I don’t doubt that around the boardroom tables of Sony, Samsung and LG among others there is robust discussion about how to get people to use these features more.

Enter Samsung’s announcements here in Las Vegas today ahead of the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show tomorrow. A key part of the announcement was the new Samsung Smart Hub. Redesigned, as Samsung say, “to simplify the process of discovery for consumers”

Rather than a complex page of icons and links, the Smart Hub of 2013 has all its content split into five dynamic panels.

They are:

  • On TV
  • Movies and TV Shows
  • Photos, Videos and Music
  • Social
  • Apps

The “On TV” panel will show you your current channel in a frame, alongside some relevant and personalised content suggestions. These suggestions will come from the TV analysing your viewing habits over time.

Taking advantage of the boom in OTT (Over the Top) Internet streaming services, the “Movies and TV Shows” panel will show you content recommendations from various content providers, again based on your viewing habits.

Bringing the connected home to the forefront the “Photos, Videos & Music” panel will allow you to organise any content you have on your network, be it on the TV itself or other devices linked to it.

The “Social” panel aims to keep Social Media at the fingertips of users, and includes YouTube and video calling like Skype.

And finally the Apps panel is where all the apps you chose to download will sit.

This really is a personal service, and families will notice recommendations coming thick and strong after a short period of usage.

Samsung has been working with the Australian media industry to ensure the electronic program guide data is up to date, and includes all the associated images and metadata to make the recommendation engine work to its best capabilities.

This is great news for anyone who buys a Samsung TV in 2013. It’s just what Smart TV needs.

However, I think if the companies really wanted to get people using Smart TV, they would make it the default page you see when you power on the device, instead of defaulting back to your most recently viewed channel. By forcing viewers to engage with the Smart hub, it would create engagement with the service.

Maybe we’ll see that at CES in 2014…