TV and computers are converging to the point where they can both offer similar viewing experiences to the canny consumer. You can now watch programmes that you’ve missed via several online options via the internet, and you can use your TV to catch up with friends by emailing them and using social medias. But if you want to seriously stream the internet through your TV you have three basic options, all of which differ in price and usability. Here are your choices:
Use a games console
Most people use their games console to access the internet with. So if you already have a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360, you can easily hook it up to your TV and enjoy everything you’d expect from a smart TV – and possibly more. For example, the PS3 has apps for BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD, Netflix and LOVEFiLM, and it also has a built-in web browser and support for video chat with other PS3 owners. Xbox 360 also supports 4OD, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Netflix and LOVEFiLM and has a dedicated Facebook app. Plus the Xbox 360 also supports the Sky Go on-demand service and web browsing too. This option is much cheaper than buying a new internet enabled TV as you can pick up a PS3 for under £200 and an Xbox 360 for under £150. All you have to do is connect your console to your TV using a HDMI cable and control everything using the console’s control pad, or if you prefer you can buy a proper remote control.
Buy an internet-enabled TV
The way internet-enabled TVs, or ‘smart Tvs’ work is that they connect wirelessly or via Ethernet to a router to access web content. This could mean streaming a film over a service like Netflix or LOVEFiLM, using Facebook via an app or surfing the web using an in-built web browser. Smart Tvs usually have commands via voice control or hand gestures so you do not need a remote and they offer HD display and (active) 3D capability. They are expensive options however at around £2,500 RRP for a 55” screen version and even the 40” screen is a whopping £1,499 typically. If you have the money to spend they are a great device to own as everything is built into one device so if you want to play a game you do not have to juggle about with wires or consoles as everything is already set up for you.
Other web-enabled devices
You can always connect a desktop computer to your TV via a HDMI cable and then plug-in a USB DVB-T tuner to receive Freeview. The only problem with this is that is you have to keep switching back and forth between the TV and computer – and Sky if you subscribe – which makes is a bit of a hassle but a very cheap option if price and cost are an issue. Or, for a more straightforward solution, you could always try connecting a web-enabled Blu-ray player. For instance, Samsung’s Smart Blu-ray players give you access to web apps like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube just like their Smart TV range. You can connect them wirelessly to your router over wi-fi and they support HD and 3D. As the Samsung BD-E6100 Smart 3D Blu-ray & DVD Player with wi-fi costs just £113.48, web-enabled Blu-ray players could actually be the cheapest way to boost your TV’s IQ to the level of a smart TV.