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3D might have failed, but Smart TV tech is definitely helping to shift television Samsung, LG, Panasonic and others are all pursuing an aggressive Smart TV strategy to bring more than just terrestrial viewing to their television sets.
A Smart TV is a serious investment. They aren't cheap, but for many the drain on the wallet is worth it. So which should you go for? Below is everything you need to know about the key players in Smart TV for 2014.
last updated on 05-06-2017
Sony Led TV
Samsung Led TV
LG Led TV
Sony was actually one of the first manufacturers to enter the Smart TV game. Powered by what Sony calls its 'intelligence centre', its offering is actually fairly different to the Korean manufacturers. Sony’s Led model is highly user friendly. It’s favourite applications allows your preffered apps. To stay on the top row of your Smart home screen. This means you can quickly access favourite apps. What makes Sony's offering so special is its 'fast zapping' system. Hit the 'programme select' button and then a menu will appear to the right of the screen showing currently playing shows. Finally you have the history section, which lists any connections or content you might have recently used. It's a great way to quickly swap to your HDMI port for the Xbox, or boot up Netflix.
Samsung has worked hard to seriously refresh its smart TV user interface. Gone is the clunky and dated design complete with swimming pool background, replaced with a much slicker panel-based user interface.There is no distracting background, just a set of panels that you can scroll through to enjoy different parts of the Samsung's Smart TV experience. These panels consists of: On TV, Social, Apps, Movies & TV and All Share.
LG's user interface isn't quite as slick as the new Samsung offering, but it isn't far behind it either. Everything is divided up into small boxes which you can then scroll left and right between using the television's remote. These boxes consist of things like applications and various 'worlds' like 'Smart World' and '3D World' all designed to direct you to different types of content.
Brownie points have to be given to Sony for its use of NFC with its 2013 Smart TVs. Remotes can be paired with the TV just by tapping them on it, as can Sony's own NFC capable smartphones.
Sony is behind LG and Samsung when it comes to voice and motion control. The only way you can use voice is via its TV Sideview Smart control app, which requires you to have a smartphone handy. Motion control is also missing and there is no LG style magic remote to use.
Samsung is keen to take the television experience beyond the conventional remote control. It’s new and improved Voice recognition feature is extremely handy. But even more fun is the S Recommendation technology. The remote features a built-in microphone and uttering phrases like "what's good on tonight" will have the TV show you a list of programmes it thinks you might enjoy later, based on viewing habits. Kinect-style motion control is also included, should you want to play about with the set without a remote. Then there is the remote itself, which features a built-in touch pad.
Just like the rest of the Smart competition, LG has included things like voice control with its Smart offering. The LG remote includes a microphone button which you can hit and then speak into. Voice control is in-depth enough for you to navigate the majority of the LG's Smart TV setup. Ask the TV for show recommendations, and they will pop up on the bottom of the screen as quick as your internet connection will allow.
Sony's own proprietary video unlimited and music unlimited apps are pushed heavily within its Smart TV offering. They get their own section within the fast-zapping functionality, which feels unnecessary unless you are subscribed to them.
Other than that however, Sony does tick all the boxes that it needs to when it comes to apps, so Netflix and LoveFilm are there as is iPlayer and Demand 5.
Just about every Smart TV out there features some kind of app functionality, Samsung too has its own. At the moment, Samsung has an exclusive deal with 4oD, which brings even more catch-up services on offer. Then there is the likes of Netflix, LoveFilm and Hulu and Skype, all available straight from the box.
All the classic Smart TV apps are there, from BBC iPlayer to Netflix and LoveFilm. Twitter Facebook and Skype are also included on LG Smart TVs. They aren't as easy to browse as their web or mobile based counterparts, but work well enough.
v The Hardware:
You can't fault Sony for its design. The 2014 Smart TV range looks absolutely fantastic and if you want something premium sat in your living room, then Sony might be the one to go for.
The majority of Samsung's 2014 sets can use something called the evolution kit, a plug-in box which will bring the television up to date with the latest Smart experience, so you don't need to invest in a new television altogether.
LG isn't messing about when it comes to Smart TV, including its platform in the TV sets starting right at the bottom of its range.