Six of the best gadgets and gizmos on a theme. This week: Six of the best Smart TV sets.
By Peter Jenkinson.
There is something bigger than the digital switchover happening in television this year - Smart TV.
Clever money is being wagered on this being a blockbuster in 2012 - some say 3D failed to live up to the hype - but these web-ready TV sets are at the top of new purchase requests.
With plenty of tricks to perform, from video-streaming and gaming to social network access and an array of other TV apps that are specific to each of the manufacturers, the multitude of content is quite staggering.
Taking it all in will take a fair amount of time, so it's paramount to choose the best hardware to get you connected. Here's our pick of the top six smart sets.
Upper Class - Loewe Connect 40 LED 200 - £2,595 from www.hiwayhifi.com As far back as 1998, the high-end television manufacturer Loewe had a gogglebox connected to the sparsely populated web, and its offering has now been refined to cope with today's plethora of content. Its MediaNet platform has some superb applications for getting the best from your set as well as accessing the entire web. Available in various styles and colours, this is your designer box.
Extra Dimension - Samsung UE46D8000 - £1,399 from www.currys.co.uk Adding a little extra to your viewing, this slimline TV set incorporates 3D technology so you can enjoy this content at home. Samsung uses its own Smart Hub interface and this provides access to loads of internet-based features, including Social TV, Skype, a fully integrated web browser and Your Video. If you do find yourself with any spare viewing capacity, then use the integrated Freeview tuner for even more entertainment.
Mid-Range - LG 47LW650T - £899 from www.currys.co.uk You can enjoy top-quality internet content delivery through this smart TV set using LG's established NetCast feature. Access the LG App Store in this way, and you'll find downloadable applications and games. An easy-to-navigate on-screen dashboard lets you find your way around easily, and a great feature called Smart Share lets you share all your own photos, videos, and music through the TV. Throw in the fact that it's also a 3D set that uses the cheaper glasses, and this certainly punches above its price tag.
Add Adapter - Toshiba Regza 42VL863B - £749 from www.currys.co.uk Accessing online content is easy with this set - just add a Wi-Fi adapter and stream online content across the airwaves with ease. Your online library of entertainment is hosted by Toshiba's Places and App Connect gives you lots of additional pieces of TV-viewing pleasure. The bachelor pad styling of this all-black set might have more limited appeal to the more decor-conscious buyer, however.
Brand Awareness - Sony Bravia KDL-46NX723BU - £999 from www.currys.co.uk The amazing picture quality of this Sony TV sets it apart from the rest even before we discuss the smart side of things. The Motionflow technology gives a really smooth view of fast-action sports and films. This set connects via built-in Wi-Fi and delivers the full range of internet on to your box. BBC iPlayer plus LoveFilm access alone means you'll probably never leave your house.
Value Viewing - Samsung UE40D5520 - £479 from www.currys.co.uk For those looking to upgrade to a world of internet connectivity, this sub-£500 set looks like an ideal place to dip one's toes. An all-round decent TV set that delivers on picture quality, it lacks 3D or any of the swish methods of getting connected and instead relies on a cable connection. But for a first-timer, or indeed someone looking for another web-connected set, this could well be ideal.
App of the week: Sky Go - Apple iOS You can watch almost anything that's available on your TV with this remarkable app from Sky.
It's just like being in your front room, but you're not. From an iOs device, such as your iPad or iPhone, or laptop, you can use a 3G or Wi-Fi connection to watch a range of films or stay up to date with live sport and news - all while you're in the park, sat in a coffee shop, or on a train or bus.