Smart TV just got a whole lot smarter

matthew james
matthew james

When was the last time you watched anything in 3-D at home? The answer is probably never - and for good reason too: 3-D in the living room never really took off, writes Matthew James.

Despite manufacturers desperately pushing the technology onto us with their in-store demos and the range of strikingly cool looking eye-ware being sold, nobody could be bothered with the set up. Some glasses required batteries, while others didn’t work alongside certain units, and a selection of these dark-coloured spectacles required USB charging. It all became a complicated mess. Even worse were the side effects: Something I like to call a ‘3D headache’ would kick in after about 35 minutes of usage, and would then escalate to a feeling of brain explosion. By the way, that’s not to say 3-D is rubbish – it can be very immersive, but has always seemed best kept in the cinema – until now.

Today we have the smartphone and the smartwatch, so it’s about time the television has joined the smart-upgrade revolution because what ‘smarter’ really means is ‘better’. Since 2012, the likes of LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony have all been working on what they believe is the smarter TV. And while your current TV offers less features, this can be simply addressed by connecting a PlayStation or one of several media boxes offered by Sky, Virgin and the rest, which turns any dumb TV into an entertainment centre - offering much of the same content as the latest televisions branded as‘smart’. The real difference is that the smart TV offers superior intelligence straight out of the box without the need for attachments. They also feature straightforward set-up, and a whole lot more. However, earlier models were clunky, confusing to use, and often slow. But, we’ve now reached a moment in which everything just works as it should, with LG leading the way with their software enhancements.

By using Web OS, which was originally developed for a mobile platform, LG has devised an interface that offers a simple design alongside a world of apps and Internet connectivity. YouTube, Netflix and Skype are all available through the TV which are welcomed additions. Apps appear on the menu at the bottom of the screen. Social networking also makes its way to the bigger screen with customized Twitter and Facebook integration being available with just a few movements of the Bluetooth Magic Remote, which works more like a mouse than a traditional Infra-Red controller. To keep things ticking over and enable smooth multitasking, the LG Smart TV comes with 1.5GB of RAM and a speedy processor. The full HD 50 inch model costs £699.00 and comes with LED backlighting which makes colour representation look beautifully accurate while images are sharp and crisp. With the dedicated ‘3-D world’ app, and cheaper, battery free glasses; LG may have saved 3-D too by making it an almost effortless affair.

Samsung also offer top models with an incorporation of iPlayer, Demand 5 and 4OD available from the offset.

The higher end models also make use of a curved LED ultra-high definition (UHD) design which looks stunning and offers extremely good viewing angles. Prices start at £3999.00, so it may be worth waiting a while for the cost to come down.

Next month: The top 10 smartphones of 2014 so far.