Five things to look for in a smart TV
After a new TV? One with internet skills? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve already shown you how to turn any TV into a smart TV, but if you know you want a new one (and who doesn’t?) we’ve got an indispensable guide for picking the right one. Here are our five tips for picking the right smart TV for you.
First thing’s first, the internet connection on a smart TV is a vital matter. If your TV is going to be next to your internet router so you can plug it in with an Ethernet cable, you’re fine – any smart TV will work.
If you’re planning on putting a smart TV in a different room to your router though, you will need one that supports Wi-Fi, and that’s where things get tricky. You see, many smart TVs only have Ethernet connections built-in – others are “Wi-Fi Ready” which means you may have to pay for a Wi-Fi dongle to plug in to it separately, and they’re not always cheap. Make sure yours has Wi-Fi built in to be on the safe side. Also note that Wi-Fi speeds for internet streaming can sometimes be a lot slower than by Ethernet cable; always opt for the latter where possible. Your HD BBC iPlayer programmes will thank you for it.
What do you want to watch?
Be very aware: not all smart TVs are born equal. Some have had a cursory YouTube app and BBC iPlayer bunged on them and been left to rot. Others, like Samsung and LG’s, have app stores packed to the rafters with services, apps and even games. It’s all a bit of a mess and there’s no unified platform yet, though a few manufacturers like LG and Philips are working on one. Think about what you want and shop around – is it YouTube, television show catchup, games, Netflix, or even new release movies on demand? For the latter especially, look out for services like Blinkbox.com and Acetrax.
Likewise, when buying a new smart TV, make sure you know whether you’re going to be fine with just the services you’re buying, or if you’ll be wanting any more in the future. If you think you might want more, a TV with an app store to call its own is probably a smarter choice than one with a few select big name apps now.
Oddly enough, you’re actually far more likely to see regular updates and new services if you use a games console as a smart TV, as Sony and Microsoft have been hot on adding new channels to both the PS3 and Xbox 360 respectively.
With smart TVs, the remote control has never been so important. You won’t just be changing the channel, you’ll be typing in names of TV shows and films, and even Facebook updates. And believe us, if you value your sanity, you do not want to do that with an ordinary 0-9 remote control. Luckily, many manufacturers like Toshiba, Samsung and LG provide smartphone apps for iOS and Android that let you use your phone as a remote control, so you can get around much quicker. LG’s also taken a different tact: some of its new smart TVs include voice and motion control to help you choose what you want.
The right screen
It sounds silly but it’s all too easy to overlook: make sure you get the right screen size for your room, and one with an image you’re happy staring at for hours and hours and hours on end. Do you want 3D? Do you even need a new TV at all? You might be better off with a low price set top box that does much the same job and plugs into the telly you already own. Think carefully, shop around and check out what you’re after in stores before buying.