Feeds

Smart TV shootout

The major players go head-to-head

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Review It’s about 18 months since I last rounded up internet-connected TVs - or "Smart TVs" as they’re now being named by all the manufacturers these days. Since then, all the brands have upped their game considerably, and just about all of their offerings are much more powerful than the 2009 models I looked at last time.

As before, I've focused on the connectivity and "smart" aspects of the sets, not the picture quality, remote control, or screen size.

Although smart functionality is appearing on more and more sets, including some from the budget brands, I’ve concentrated on the most popular names, and looked at sets from LG, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung.

The TVs

Smart TVs - LG 42LV550

LG 42LV550

I reviewed the main brands' Smart TV offerings on the following tellies:

Smart TVs - Sony Bravia KDL-46EX723

Sony Bravia KDL-46EX723

Of course, the companies' smart TV platforms are available on a wide selection of televisions, across a range of sizes and price-points. Their smart TV platforms are common to all these sets, though older models may have inferior versions which aren't always upgradeable to the new UI and feature set.

Some, such as Sony, also put the same UI and connected content features on their Blu-ray Disc players and set-top boxes. Reg Hardware will be looking at these gadgets' strengths and weakness as IPTV devices in the new year.

 

BBC iPlayer and catch-up TV

Eighteen months ago, BBC iPlayer was something of a rarity, largely available only on Freesat HD kit. Now it’s something every manufacturer wants, and it’s also rolling out on Freeview set-top boxes.

Smart TVs BBC iPlayer on the

LG’s iPlayer implementation makes good use of the screen, with plenty of graphics

All the sets I looked at incorporate iPlayer, though in the case of the Sony and the Samsung, what you get is really just the standard big screen version. It works, but there’s no HD and it’s a little basic – especially for a really large screen.

Smart TVs BBC iPlayer on the Panasonic
Smart TVs BBC iPlayer on the Panasonic

Panasonic’s iPlayer stands out for good looks, and lots of features - including the ability to browse the timeline of radio stations

LG’s offering is much more slick, but by far the best was the new Viera Connect implementation from Panasonic, which lets you do things like browse radio schedules, and provides richer graphics than the other sets. If you’re a Beeb fan, this could swing the balance.

Smart TVs BBC iPlayer on the Samsung

Like Sony, Samsung’s iPlayer is the familiar ‘big screen’ version

On the other hand, if it’s Channel 5 that you’re keen on, then the Sony platform was the only one to have Demand 5 pre-loaded. It’s a shame that the players for all the main UK stations aren’t available yet – and that’s one area where YouView, when it appears, is likely to score heavily over what’s built into people’s TVs.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Video on demand

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.