Smart TVs

The latest generation of smart TV devices have unlocked a whole new dimension of audio and video viewing. The impressive range of value for money models bring together cutting edge high definition flat screen technology with connectivity options that ensure you will never again find yourself saying ‘there’s nothing on TV’!

Smart TVs have transformed the technology and even the idea of a television set. To find out how one device can be capable of enabling connectivity, accessing online content and bringing useful apps into the living room, read our guide to smart TVs and boost your knowledge before you buy.

About smart TVs

A smart TV is often called the ultimate viewing experience, and it’s no great exaggeration when these internet-enabled smart TVs allow you to access interactive media, online games, a huge selection of movies and TV series, as well your basic viewing schedule.

Smart TVs work by tapping into your own home online network using Wi-Fi or a simple Ethernet cable. This unlocks a whole new platform of functions where you can browse your favourite websites on the big screen or access extensive interactive media such as the BBC Connected Red Button.

Once connected, Smart TVs combine some of the functions of a PC, laptop or tablet by providing special menu options to connect to online content from social networking websites, TV providers or internet gaming applications.

Depending on the type of television selected, you may be able to use a built-in browser that will have an on-screen menu with custom entries for email, online media and movie rental services. In this way, they work in a remarkably similar way to a traditional set-top box.

Connecting smart TV

The television itself has all the technology you require built into the one device so smart TV access is really simple.

They can, of course, function in the same way as a standard TV set and connect to your cable or satellite TV channels. Before you decide on a model, check whoever you are buying a smart TV for has an internet connection.

The best connection would be an unlimited broadband package so there are no excess charges for exceeding any data limits while streaming movies. The better the connection, the easier it will be to download large files or stream longer video content through your television.

Smart TV apps

If you are considering buying a Smart TV for your own then one of the best ways to start is by comparing different brands. Take a look at the specific internet services that each device can access. It may be that you can add different functions or simply browse the internet for content but a built- in package is often the most affordable way to get internet services on the new television.

Popular app choices will be immediately useful over the festive season and all through the year. Check your chosen package for a few main options such as:

  • Skype: Allows you to make a video call to a loved one in a faraway place over the internet and is a value-for-money service that will allow you to catch up with anyone with an internet connection around the globe.
  • BBC iPlayer: Review all the programmes you missed with this catch-up service. You’ll find a large online library of BBC shows to watch whenever when it suits you.
  • YouTube: Access an almost unlimited selection of short films, music videos or comedy viral clips and enjoy watching them on the big screen.
  • Facebook: Connect with friends and family or share content through your television.
  • Netflix: Subscribe to this service and you can stream exclusive content like House of Cards or Arrested Development through your smart TV or delve into a selection of movies.
  • BBC Sport: An essential connection for any sports fan, this interactive service allows access to camera angles and commentary for some of the biggest events of the year.
  • Spotify: Stream music tracks or full albums from a comprehensive music library or build your own playlists to give your home its own soundtrack.

Choosing a smart TV

Best-selling smart TVs include models made by leading manufacturers like LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Technika and Toshiba. Having found the right content package, you can turn to questions on screen technology and size.

Plasma screens offer the benefits of accuracy of colour and higher saturation. LCD television screens are more common and can offer good value for money, alongside greater power efficiency. LED screens have a similar picture quality to LCD screens but tend to be much slimmer, so make a good space-saver. The latest screens available are 3D TV- enabled and are compatible with 3D games, Blu-ray movies and some 3D broadcasts from Sky or BBC channels.

Look for built-in features as well. Wi-Fi included in the smart TV set will allow the user to place the television anywhere within the radius of the signal to connect to the internet, without the need for wires and a connection socket. Some models will allow you to connect other devices using the televisions’ HDMI connections or a USB connection.

Watch all the new content you will have available on a screen ranging from 32 inch through to an impressive 60 inch, offering a fully immersive viewing experience. Televisions are provided with wall mounts or stands but make sure you select a screen size that will suit the living room it will be placed in! Think about a position where everyone can view comfortably, without the set dominating the area or being located where there’s a lot of foot traffic.