Yes, I agree the apps are useless, but my Samsung SmartTV is great for playing .mp4 and .mkv files. It will even play .mt2s files you can find on Blu-Ray disks.
I just plug in a 1 TB WD Passport portable hard drive to my TV, and use this as my media center. No extra devices need to be turned on. It can also play directly from computer shares, but my wireless access of the TV to the living room is quite poor.