It’s hard to imagine what is the best TV to buy. Heck, it’s hard to imagine a time before television. Actually, it’s hard to remember a time before you could access entertainment at the touch of your hand on your mobile phone, let alone on a traditional TV set. And while Internet use is rapidly increasing and people are constantly accessing entertainment online, TV is still the #1 source of media consumption according to a report by ZenithOptimedia. The report, Media Consumption Forecasts, published in May 2015, found that “television remains by far the most popular of all media globally, attracting 183.9 minutes of consumption a day in 2014.” That’s a lot of time spent in front of a television, so you might as well make sure that the TV you are using has all of the functions and perks that you need.
Televisions have gotten a lot smarter over the years, pun intended. That’s right, it should come as no surprise that your TV is no longer just a screen hooked up to broadcast media to stream your favorite shows. That is so 1999. Smart TVs are all the rage, and these connected TVs are hooked up with Internet features, interactive capabilities, on-demand media and more. Welcome to the future of television.
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According to eMarketer, over 138 million Americans are expected to use a connected (or smart) TV in 2015. “Falling prices of smart TVs, combined with the increasing popularity of set-top devices—such as Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire and connected video game consoles—and ever-expanding streaming content options, will help drive audience growth.” Chances are you are a part of that audience, and if you’re not, you definitely should be. Smart TVs make all of your entertainment needs easier, faster, more accessible and far more fun.
Let’s say you’re in the market to buy a new TV, where do you begin? How do you know what features you need, what brands are the best bet, and how do you make sure you’re not getting ripped off by paying for functions you will never use? If it sounds like a stressful shopping trip, take a deep breath and relax—we’ve got some tips to help you be a smart shopper when it comes to your Smart TV.
First of all, you need to pick a size, and while this rule might not apply across all categories of life, when it comes to your TV, size really does matter. You certainly don’t want to go over-budget, and you need to stick to what fits in your home (a giant TV on a tiny wall might look ridiculous), but believe it or not, within reason, bigger is better. According to CNET editor, David Katzmaier, “more than any other “feature” like 4K resolution, Smart TV, or higher refresh rates, stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money. One of the most common post-TV-purchase complaints I’ve heard is from people who didn’t go big enough.”
Now, when it’s time to pick an actual brand of Smart TV, there are a lot of options. Virtually all TVs released in 2015 have smart TV capabilities, and if you want a good quality TV (with modern technology) your TV will have built-in apps and smart features. Some TVs have more apps than others, so depending on how complex your needs are, you may love or hate a more cluttered interface. Samsung’s Smart TV has fewer apps than in the past, and a sleek remote. But reviews argue that the minimalist remote makes it kind of hard to navigate the system. The LG WebOS Smart TV has a voice-enabled remote (cool, but maybe not necessary), more apps than other brands, and a beautiful, easy-to-navigate interface.
Speaking of apps, another thing to note is that not all smart TVs are created equal when it comes to which apps they offer access to. If you’re a Netflix addict, then make sure your TV comes with the Netflix app. If you cannot live without Hulu, double check that your TV choice offers that app. It would be a real shame to purchase a snazzy new Smart TV only to find that it doesn’t have what you need.
If you’re looking for the option to customize your TV settings for different users, than the Panasonic Smart Viera might be for you. As Tech Radar reports, This TV lets you create different pages with unique layouts, settings, wallpapers and shortcuts for each user, making it easy for everyone in the family to feel like their TV home screen is catered to them. Bottom line: there are a lot of smart TVs out there, each with different pros and cons. Do your research, think about your needs (and your budget), and get familiar with the most current technology options to make sure you’re getting everything you need our of your TV purchase.