Vizio Adds Features to Smart TV Experience

Vizio announced the rollout of new features to its smart TV experience, SmartCast Home, adding such entertainment apps as CBS All Access and allowing users to personalize their SmartCast Home experience via the app sorting feature.

The latest iteration of SmartCast Home is rolling out via free cloud-based updates to Vizio SmartCast 4K Ultra HD TVs and displays, as well as select HD and Full HD models.

“Vizio continues to fulfill consumer demands by way of free, rolling cloud-based updates that enable new, intuitive smart TV features via Vizio SmartCast,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “With versatility, simplicity and value in mind, Vizio SmartCast is an ever-evolving entertainment solution. Everyday users, cord-cutters and smart home enthusiasts alike are able to continuously receive new features, the latest apps and other beneficial enhancements that help ensure they are getting the most out of their viewing experience.”

With the update, Vizio SmartCast Home users can sort and position their favorite and most frequented apps on the home screen. To change the order of apps within the app row at the bottom of the SmartCast Home screen, users scroll to the end of the app row and select the “Sort App Row” icon. From there, they will be prompted with on-screen cues that guide them through the process of highlighting and selecting various apps to customize their position.

New to Vizio SmartCast Home is the CBS All Access app, offering such programs as “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Madam Secretary”; exclusive original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight”; and streaming of local live broadcasts. YouTube TV — which allows SmartCast users to watch and record live TV from more than 60 networks — Baeble and Toon Goggles, among other apps, have also been added to the SmartCast lineup.

With the latest updates, the Vizio WatchFree free streaming service is now also included in the App Row.

SmartCast also now offers dedicated TV and Movie Detail pages highlighting the selected title’s trailer and synopsis, along with cast and director credits, running time, parental ratings, critic insights and more. The TV and Movie Detail pages will also soon allow users to browse seasons and episodes across multiple apps such as FandangoNow and Hulu, and then view on their app of choice.

Report: 4K UHD Demand to Boost TV Growth in 2018

Consumer demand for TV sets is poised to return to growth in 2018, boosted by 4K Ultra HD models, according to the latest “Worldwide TV Market Report” from Futuresource Consulting.

The recovery of several markets linked with a transition to 4K UHD models will push the market up by 5% to $85 billion, according to Futuresource.

“We believe 4K UHD TV sets will ship over 100 million units this year, equivalent to two-thirds of the entire large screen market,” said David Tett, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting, in a statement. “Consumers increasingly want larger screens, and this is playing nicely into the 4K UHD proposition.”

The world’s two largest markets, China and the United States, both saw falls in 2017 but have a positive outlook in 2018, Futuresource projects.

“They have been ahead of most other markets in terms of adoption of 4K UHD and large screens generally. Over three quarters of sets that sell in the U.S. and China this year will be over 40 [inches],” said Tett in a statement. “However, other regions are now catching up, and Western Europe is on course to match the 44% Chinese household ownership of 4K UHD TVs by 2022.”

With a substantial installed base of 4K UHD TV households to target, content is now becoming available across markets, according to Futuresource.

“Consumer research shows that there has been a significant step-up in the proportion of 4K UHD TV owners who say they have watched this content at home,” Tett said in a statement. “This is the result not just of an expanding number of SVOD subscribers, but also a growing choice of content via linear TV.”

Big premium TV vendors are increasing using voice assistant platforms to attract consumers, according to Futuresource. Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa are being incorporated into the latest TVs from LG, Hisense, TCL and Vizio. Samsung, meanwhile, is utilising its in-house Bixby assistant in its 2018 QLED range.

Also, in pursuit of better margins, most vendors have introduced either QLED or OLED display technology to larger screens, according to Futuresource.

“The two largest TV vendors are currently on opposing sides; Samsung is the driving force behind QLED and LG is OLED’s primary backer,” said Tett in a statement.

Futuresource expects a 41% CAGR between 2018 and 2022 of these technologies, resulting in around 8 million sets shipping in 2022.
Among other findings, Futuresource expects high dynamic range (HDR) to be present in 60% of 4K UHD sets this year. HDR 10 is the most commonly found solution currently across vendors but the availability of a range of technologies including HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Advanced HDR and Dolby Vision is leading to some consumer confusion, according to Futuresource.