Buyer's Guide: Freeview HD TVs
How to make your choice
It's unlikely that you’d choose a set just because it had Daily Motion, rather than YouTube, but accessing online content is much more straightforward on some sets than others. While some have gone out of their way to provide a good range of material, others seem to have done the bare minimum. If you have a media streamer already, that may not matter – but at least some of these sets are coming close to replacing one.
On some sets, DLNA even offers the ability to act as a "media renderer", which means it can be controlled by an external device like a PC, or even some mobile phones. For example, I used a Nokia E72 as the controller, selecting content from a Synology network storage box or from the phone, to be displayed on the TV.
Think how well the set you fancy handles standard definition content. With just three HD channels broadcasting now, to be joined by a fourth before the year is out, a lot of what you watch is still going to be SD. With the wrong settings, like too much sharpness, and over-enthusiastic noise filtering, standard definition pictures – especially from lesser channels like More 4 – can look poor. So a good range of adjustments is vital.
With HD pictures, of course, comes better quality audio, in the form of surround sound. And if you’re hoping to get surround from a Freeview HD set, then the bad news is that things are just as murky as they proved to be when it comes to set top boxes.
In many cases, you won’t get surround sound by connecting the TV to your AV setup, as the necessary transcoding technology won’t become mandatory until next year – which might in itself be enough reason for some to consider postponing their purchase for the time being. Anything launched after April 2011 must have have transcoding if it's to sport the Freeview HD logo, and so will be able to produce a 5.1 signal that existing surround sound systems will have no difficulty handling.