Dec. 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM ET
They may be called smart TVs, but that doesn’t stop the vast majority of us from using them as basic boob tubes. A new NPD Group report claims that most people use their Internet-enabled televisions to stream video services like Netflix or Hulu Plus, and … actually, not much else.
Streaming music services manage to entertain around 15 percent of smart TV owners, but all of the more ballyhooed interactive aspects of Internet-enabled TVs — think Facebook, Twitter, Web browsers, and all those apps, games, and email widgets that come preloaded in newer HDTVs — are left completely untouched by most people.
The NPD Group chalks the trend up to a few different factors, the biggest of which being the simple fact that most people consider televisions sets to be, well, televisions — not computing devices. The proliferation of secondary Internet-enabled devices (like consoles and Blu-ray players) and the rise of local digital streaming options (like AirPlay, DLNA, and Samsung AllShare) may also be both confusing customers and cannibalizing traditional smart TV services, NPD theorizes.
We’ll add another possible factor: The molasses-slow processors in most smart TVs make anything beyond simple content streaming a major usability pain. Trying to browse your Facebook News Feed on a television is often a tremendously laggy exercise in frustration.
Fortunately, consumer disinterest in the Internet-enabled bells and whistles may just make the basic video-streaming functions of smart TVs more pleasant to use going into the future — at least if manufacturers listen to the NPD’s closing advice: “Focus less on new innovation in this space and more on simplification of the user experience.”
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