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Samsung set-top box uses mediocre Smart TV software to compete with Roku, Apple TV

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Samsung Smart Media Player press
Samsung Smart Media Player press

Samsung isn't known for its software, but that hasn't stopped the company from pushing its Smart TV interface, which offers access to video streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and MLB.TV, as well as a selection of other utilities. The company has just announced what it's calling the Smart Media Player, which is essentially an Apple TV or Roku competitor. It brings the Smart TV user interface featured on Samsung's LCD and plasma televisions (as well as some Blu-ray players) to any TV set, but there is little reason to purchase it — especially since it will cost $149.99 when it goes on sale on the 23rd.

The Smart TV software itself has never been a pleasure to use (here's our hands-on with the latest version at CES this past January). Samsung isn't the only one to struggle with such interfaces, but since the functionality offered by them is typically a toss-in with the TV itself, we don't pay much attention to them. We haven't used the Smart Media Player, but if the software is unchanged it would be odd to purchase a box like this for the specific purpose of using the software. Samsung notes that the set-top box includes a cable card slot, meaning you can use this to replace the unit you rent from your cable company. But a TiVo would be a much better option.