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TV apps: the best of a new bunch

It's still early days for apps in televisions. Quality and quantity vary greatly across the different brands — and while games are potentially a big selling point, there isn't anything currently on offer that wouldn't be better experienced on a smartphone or a PC.

Nick Broughall
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1 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

YouTube

Let's face it: there's one key reason that this year's most recent televisions have been dubbed "Smart TVs"; they run apps. Following the massive success of mobile app stores, the major television manufacturers are now calling out to developers to convert the humble flat panel into a world class, customisable entertainment hub.

It's still early days for apps in televisions. Quality and quantity vary greatly across the different brands — and while games are potentially a big selling point, there isn't anything currently on offer that wouldn't be better experienced on a smartphone or a PC.

Still, there are some useful applications hidden within the hundreds of rubbish ones on the various TV app stores. Here are the best of the bunch.

LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony

The world's most popular video platform has made its way to televisions across the country, offering the full level of search, playback and playlist controls. The best part is that most clips look pretty good on a big screen.

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Facebook

LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony

If poking people across the internet is your thing, you'll be happy to know that you can now access Facebook from your TV. It's especially useful for accessing photo galleries and cyber-stalking on a big screen.

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3 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Twitter

LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony

Sharing your thoughts in 160 characters or less may not make sense to everyone. But if it makes sense to you, Twitter is available on all 2011 Smart TVs. Typing out your 160 characters using a traditional remote isn't exactly fun, though.

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4 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Google Maps

LG, Samsung

If you're looking for a place to go, Google Maps can probably show it to you. With a customised UI that lets you navigate and zoom in with your remote control, this is just another convenient way of accessing Google's mapping service.

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5 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Picasa

LG, Samsung, Panasonic

Google's online photo sharing and storage service keeps getting stronger, and by letting users sign in and share photos on the television, you can now enjoy an old-fashioned family slideshow night, 21st century-style.

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AccuWeather

LG, Samsung, Panasonic

The first thing any self-respecting person should do in the morning is check the weather for the day ahead. AccuWeather now lets you do this directly from your TV, as well as check weather reports from around the world.

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7 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

SocialTV

Samsung

Samsung TVs may have dedicated Twitter and Facebook apps, but it has also merged the two services to create a hybrid format called SocialTV. It lets you watch your feeds at the same time as you watch TV. It makes tweeting about your favourite shows a tiny bit simpler.

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8 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Skype

Samsung, Panasonic, Sony

Skype for the TV is a glorious way of communicating with people all around the world. It requires a dedicated camera unique to your brand of television, but HD-quality video on the big screen is simply one of the best ways to Skype.

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NineMSN News

Samsung

The latest news, delivered from NineMSN. It doesn't take full advantage of the television's video powers, but it's still great for up-to-date Australian headlines.

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10 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

NineMSN Finance

Samsung

Finance can be the definition of excitement or the personification of boredom, depending on your way of looking at the world. The NineMSN Finance app will keep the former group happy, with the latest news on what's happening in the world of finance.

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11 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Vimeo

Samsung

The video-sharing site of choice for professional videographers, Vimeo has made its way to Samsung televisions via a dedicated app, bringing some amazing videos into your lounge room for free.

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12 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Google Talk

Samsung

It's questionable just how convenient a dedicated messenger app for the television can be, but for Google Talk tragics, at least now you have the option of chatting with friends through the TV.

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13 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

AP News Ticker

Samsung, Panasonic

The Associated Press writes news. That news is then transfigured into headlines and articles that can be accessed through the AP news ticker app. Simple, really.

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CNBC

Samsung

If you like your finance news with a slightly more global flavour, CNBC's dedicated app for Samsung televisions may satisfy you, by offering news, videos and market information through your TV.

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15 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Withings

Panasonic

If you own a Withings Wi-Fi scale, Panasonic TVs will pair with the device and let you monitor your weight loss on the big screen. That's convenient for people trying to lose weight, right?

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16 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Video Search

Sony

Using the Sony-owned Gracenote database, this generation of Sony TVs lets you search for all kinds of video-related information from the comfort of your lounge, from cast and crew to movies and TV shows. Great for finding out the names of familiar faces.

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17 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Music Search

Sony

Like the Video Search app, Sony's Music Search app lets you trawl through the massive Gracenote database for information on songs and music artists. Alternatively, you can use a dedicated button on the remote to identify a song being played on the TV in real time.

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18 of 18 Nick Broughall/CBS Interactive

Autocar

LG

The latest news from the world of autos, Autocar offers the latest content from UK cars site Autocar.co.uk. If you were after a review on the latest luxury Ferrari from the comfort of your own home, this is your ticket.

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