A few weeks back I bought myself online a 32 inch Philips LED NetTV. This was to replace the 11 years old 28 inch Wide-screen TV, which sometimes showed a curved screen.
But this didn’t matter that much for us; we are probably not the most critical viewers. The real reason was that we wanted a flat screen after our redecoration project. Moreover, the lack of the flat screen prevented us from taking decisions on where to put the wall decorations. A painting and a Pub Clock were waiting in the living room for their final destination. As I think that Internet & TV will merge sooner or later, I decided to by a Philips NetTV. Let’s see the results of this technology project and my resistance to spend a lot of effort on it.
Installing the TV
The physical installation was easy because it is not that heavy, so I could do it by myself. Although it has a lot of interfaces, my installation part was easy. Connect the analog coax and scart cables. Perhaps later on I will connect on the digital audio to the surround system. The automatic channel detection went roughly OK. I thought I was missing one channel, but it turned out that it automatically labeled one of the channels with the TV program displayed. The label was “As th”, which is short for “As the world turns” (apparently). Changing the order of the channel in a similar way as on the old TV, was pretty easy. Even with analog TV the quality is very good compared with the old one. So we made a step forward there. And all done in one evening, outside regular TV hours.
Now the interesting part: ensuring the NetTV functions will work. NetTV obviously requires a link to the Internet. The distance between the TV and the modem in our local 19” cabinet (closet where all utility facilities enter the home) is only 10 meters, but getting it there via the floor is not an option; because there is parquet on the floor and no possibility to put it behind skirting. So I thought I had to make this connection via the crawl space, which would also mean drilling a hole through the parquet and floor of 15 cm. Then I found out that you can also use the TV’s USB port for inserting a special Wifi adapter (PTA01).
So I bought one, together with an additional ethernet switch. I installed the ethernet switch in the closet and moved my FON access point to the closet; this obviously required additional power and ethernet cabling, but was not that complex. Plug in the USB Wifi, find the WPA key in the administration, configure and go. Easy enough.
Somewhere in the activation process it asked to register. I tried to use my Club Philips account but the system did not seem to react properly; error messages (like NetTV off-line) were shown. By searching on the Internet I found that on http://www.syndication.philips.com/monitor/internet/ you can find the status of all Philips Internet Services. Strange to find this via a Philips forum discussion and not via the site itself. As all services were green, I did the off-on trick and like a PC everything really started working. In the mean time I registered the device via a PC as this was suggested in the manual. But I also had to register via NetTV. This resulted in this device being registered two times in the Club Philips environment. I wanted to clean this up, but it is not clear which one to remove without the need for re-registering when using the netTV again.
When selecting NetTV, there is a limited set of selected content available. As this set includes rain-radar (buienradar), Youtube, Picasa, some gamesites, a major news site and the two major content organizers (RTL and NOS) and there is the option to go to the rest of the Internet, that doesn’t limit that much. The content organizers have a limited set of content at this moment. The quality of the streaming video is generally at least as good as the analog quality. Sometimes channels stop and continue without any message, others start with a buffering message and when they stop in the middle, buffering is shown again. Youtube also has a good quality. Navigating with remote control not that easy. The remote control number (eg for pause) doesn’t seem to work, but with arrows it works. It was fun using it together with my kids; I never heard about Justin Bieber, but now I’ve seen him performing. The fun part was that the first videos we found were the imitations. The user-interface is easy enough for a 9 year old kid to use. Showing holiday pictures with Picasa on-line went pretty good. The only problem was that the slideshow crashed when there was a video needed to be played. The games in NetTV are Casual games. I played “4 in a row” with with my son and it worked good. Handing over the remote control seems a bit strange, but did not reduce the fun.
There is one more thing
One of the features that in not promoted as NetTV, is very interesting. It is the Electronic Program Guide. When you select it, the browser NetTV clearly starts. The TV channel you were watching is displayed in the upper left corner. An improvement would be if this is displayed directly when the guide is selected. Now it is shown after the browser has started.
For me it is clear that with this NetTV we made a step towards Internet TV. Hopefully Philips will add features and improvements, because it has potential for more. They really need to improve he installation and registration process. With respect to the performance issues experienced, the problem is that you never know what the cause is. It cloud be my Wifi connection, my DSL connection being overloaded, or even performance issues at the server side. Of all the possible causes, I hope that it isn’t my Wifi connection, otherwise I’ll have do physical work underneath the floor.