Getting smart with the best in smart TVs

Gone are the days when buying a brand new TV meant simply deciding which was comfortably best for watching reruns of Friends when kicking back on the couch, a can of beer in one hand and chips in the other. Back then, the average TV buyer would consider either LCD or plasma displays (latter non-existent since 2014, and now there’s… OLED! HDR! SUHD!), which size is best viewed from where you sit, and picture quality. Today, a TV is no mere dumb pipe for playing whatever’s on well, telly – you can now surf the internet, play games directly and of course, Netflix and chill.

The most distinct feature of such TVs, or smart TVs as they’re now known, is that they’re able to directly access the internet, usually through in-built WiFi capabilities. And now for better compatibility with Internet of Things (IoT) devices at home, manufacturers have come up with an array of smart TVs as intelligent as their OLED displays are stunning. One of the biggest concerns when purchasing a smart TV would certainly be the platform it runs on, and for your convenience, we’ve narrowed it down to the most popular three.

Sony Smart TV

Sony’s smart TV platform is considered to be relatively young still, but its Android capabilities will probably be familiar to those who run the operating system on their mobile phones. TechRadar considered it to be the best of 2015’s smart TV offerings, and for good reason too. Its easy to use interface, coupled with a whopping 16GB of storage (on average!) makes it a stellar choice for those looking to upgrade from traditional dumb televisions. It also uses Google Cast, which allows devices on the same network to stream audio and video, without lengthy configuration.

Samsung Tizen

Last year, Samsung made a serious upgrade to its smart TV platform. Samsung Tizen is now more minimalistic and user friendly than its predecessor, with the design allowing the smart TV menu to overlay on top of whatever you’re watching. A compelling feature is that it can be coupled with Samsung S4/Note 3 phones and above. The TV automatically detects the phone when you walk into the room, and can broadcast programmes on your phone screen when you’re on the network, even when it is turned off. Its Smart Control remote is also nothing short of revolutionary, and can recognise the type of set-top box, sound system or game console connected to the TV – making it a universal remote of sorts, and with no set up needed.

LG webOS

Considered by many to be a gamechanger (Samsung Tizen is purportedly modelled after it) when it was first introduced, LG’s latest webOS 3.0 was unveiled recently during CES 2016. A cool function is its ability to do split screens of two different channels, or inputs (such as Blu-ray and regular TV) simultaneously. webOS also boasts multi-tasking by treating all inputs as separate applications, and you may easily toggle between them as and when you feel like it. Done with watching the news on Channel 5? Head on back to Netflix to unpause that episode of Daredevil you were watching, without waiting for the app to reboot.

Accessories to further enhance your smart TV  

Remote controls

With smart TVs now a viable tool for web browsing and even gaming, you’d certainly need a good remote control to go along with it. Unfortunately, the remote that comes with the run-of-the-mill smart TV usually leaves one wanting, and you’d might just be better off purchasing one that usually comes with a higher-end smart TV. Although, if you’re a proud owner of Sony’s smart TVs, you can download an app that allows you to use your smartphone as a remote control, a pretty nifty feature we’d say.

Sound bars

As TVs get thinner, the quality of the sound generally takes a hit. Installing a home theatre sound system complete with speakers and subwoofers would be ideal, but will clutter up a small living room in the average HDB flat, as well as an expensive purchase for a non-audiophile. And as you spend more time Netflix and chilling with your smart TV, you’d want a simple but effective compromise between sound and practicality. Consider getting a compact sound bar, which enhances the sound quality without taking up too much space.