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Vu launches smart TVs with Netflix and YouTube buttons on remote

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Television manufacturer Vu has entered into an exclusive tie up with Flipkart to launch 7 new smart TVs ranging from Rs 20,000 for ‘Play’ smart TVs and Rs 120,000 for ‘Iconium’ smart TVs. Five of these TVs sport 4K screens and have a Netflix and YouTube button on the remote, while the other two have 1080p screens and are preloaded with apps like YouTube.

The buttons on the remote open the respective apps directly. However, it looks like none of these new TVs run Google recommended Android as there seem to be quite a few user complaints about the lack of Google Play, limiting the number of apps users can install after buying the TV. Additionally, the two basic 1080p models don’t sport the Netflix app as a default, requiring users to sideload it.

Other than the lack of certain preloaded apps and the Netflix & YouTube button, the two 1080p models and the five 4k models have similar features and only vary in size (up to 65”). Interestingly, Vu mentions that its 43” TV, priced at Rs 43,000, will come preloaded with gesture control features and games like badminton, baseball, bowling, tennis, golf, whack-a-mole etc. The company did not provide details about what other apps come preinstalled on its devices.

Platform specific buttons: Vu’s idea to put in buttons for Netflix and YouTube is not new. Back in 2010, Tata Docomo introduced co-branded handsets from Alcatel along with buttons to launch Yahoo services. In 2011, Facebook & Vodafone launched a feature phone with a dedicated button for Facebook. This key could be assigned to a number of tasks, including posting a status update with photos from the phone’s gallery.

Similarly, in 2013, Nokia launched Asha 210, a handset with a QWERTY keypad and a dedicated WhatsApp button. However, quite tellingly, these devices aren’t sold anymore, and these manufacturers saw it fit not to introduce such buttons in any of their future devices.

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MediaNama’s take: Overall the button feels like a gimmick and isn’t very useful. Opening an app without having to tap other buttons a couple of times is a minor convenience at best, especially considering users might still want to type in text, using the remote, to look for the content they want. We would have preferred it if the company would let users assign functions to the buttons, but that doesn’t sound quite as sellable as “YouTube and Netflix” buttons.

At the end of the day, an exclusive button was probably more viable a few years back, when for example the Whatsapp button on Nokia phones would let feature phone users use apps like Whatsapp. However, other than a marketing perspective, it makes little sense to have exclusively tied up buttons. A better approach might be to let Netflix and YouTube be default choices, with buttons open for customization for users.

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