For Christmas this year my girlfriend suggested that we get an extra TV so that she didn't have to watch football ever again! I thought this would be a great opportunity to watch more football!
However, with a bit of research it turned out that there were more options than we had realised.
I personally struggled to find a TV with a both a DVD player and FreeviewHD tuner from a brand I trusted for under £500 (this needs to sit on a small side board so 32" was my maximum size). Having reached the conclusion this might not be possible I started to look into other ways of making this work.
There have been big advances in streaming and "on demand" TV over the last 5 years with devices such as Apple TV, D-Link's Boxee Box and more direct devices such as Samsung's new SMART TV's. Here is a quick breakdown of the plusses and minuses.
Apple TV is a device that connects your TV to the network - both your home network (wirelessly) and the Internet (via your broadband connection) in a stylish and simple way.
Apple TV has many things to recommend it;
- Using Air Play, you can share content onto other Apple devices, such as iPods, iPads or iPhones.
- Completely silent
- Tiny; will easily fit next to your TV
- Low energy consumption
- Cheap; around £90
There are limitations however;
- To share content (photos, videos or music) from your computer to your Apple TV you have to use iTunes. Files stored elsewhere cannot be shared.
- Internet related features favour the US market, so Netflix and MLB are on there, but not iPlayer, 4oD or LoveFilm
D-Link Boxee Box and Iomega TV with Boxee Box
Boxee finds shows and movies available on the internet and puts them on your TV, without any monthly fee.
Boxee is software designed to search and gather free content from the internet and present this to you in a format that is easy to navigate.
D-Link took this software and combined it with an easy to install device called the "Boxee Box". Iomega has now produced its own version which offers similar features but with a few new twists:
- Iomega have gotten rid of the more outlandish style of the Boxee Box for a standard black box, which will sit a little more comfortably alongside the rest of your home cinema setup (although will probably provoke less interest).
- It has internal storage of one or two terabytes (1000 or 2000GB).
- Iomega have also included cloud storage functionality (data is stored online and is accessible from anywhere). For example, Instead of saving photos to Flickr you can invite your distant family members to your "clouds", and allow them to view content stored locally on your Iomega device or another computer on the network.
The Boxee Box costs around £179. To find out more visit http://www.boxee.tv/
The Iomega Boxee Box is £288 with no storage or £500 with 2TB storage. Find out more here http://tv.iomega.com/#home
Samsung SMART TV (Medi@ 2.0)
I eventually opted for the catchily-named Samsung UE32D6100. This is a 32" LED TV so the response time of the picture is good (no blurring when the camera moves quickly) it has a variety of popular apps available and plays a wide range of files when a storage device such as a hard drive or USB stick is connected.
This provides a wealth of options for watching movies, especially with the large number of digital mediums available. Films can be downloaded from iTunes, or obtained from so-called "Triple-Play" Blu-Rays (which contain a DVD and digital copy of the film, as well as the standard Blu-Ray. These digital copies can be viewed directly from an external drive, or we can watch other films via Lovefilm or other online content such as iPlayer.
A lot of modern TVs are able to display HD content, but built-in Freeview tuners are often only in standard definition. The includes a FreeviewHD tuner, meaning that the signal coming in is high definition.