Smart TVs have truly become the swiss knife of entertainment in your living room. Gone are the days of connecting media boxes such as Apple TV, Digital Video Recorders and set top boxes. Modern smart TVs can do it all!
Read a recent comparison of Australian models here.
Display size, technology and specs
Our lounge room is rather small so we are using a 55″ screen for our 2.5 m viewing distance. If your room is big enough you should go for a 65″ or even 75″ screen.
The OLED technology is the best today for picture quality but is also the most expensive. There are more affordable LED screens available with excellent display quality, for example the LG NanoCell.
All decent smart TVs come with 4K resolution but the refresh rate can vary. If you are planning to use a gaming PC or a next gen console (PS5, Xbox X) make sure that your TV can support at least 120 Hz refresh rate @ 4K resolution.
Finally, streaming content from Netflix and other platforms is increasingly available in colour rich standards such as HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. Make sure that your new TV supports these standards as they will truly bring your movies to live.
Input / Output Ports
Here is the list of what I consider as bare minimum connectivity on a smart TV:
- Four HDMI ports: at least one of them should support 4K @ 120 Hz for next gen consoles. One port should be Audio Return Channel (ARC) to connect soundbars and home theatre systems
- Two USB ports: one to connect a hard drive to record TV programs and the other as spare to power devices like the Google Chromecast.
- One optical output: if your sound bar doesn’t support ARC then this will be your backup solution
- One AUX/Headset 3.5mm output: we use it to connect our headphones. This is SO convenient for late night watching. If the 3.5mm port is not available you will need to use the optical output with a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) and a USB port to power it. Not very practical.
- Ethernet port: all smart TVs are Wifi enabled (preferably both 2.4 and 5 Ghz) but if the router is nearby, using an Ethernet port will make the internet connection very stable and free up Wifi bandwidth for other devices.
All Smart TVs come with an app store where you choose which apps you want to use directly on the TV. In my case, I have these apps installed (I don’t subscribe to all of them though):
- Amazon Prime Video
- Apple TV+
- Kayo Sports
- and all the national TV channels (ABC, SBS, etc)
Let’s face it, built-in speakers, even on expensive TVs just don’t do justice to the gorgeous movie that you are watching. For a more immersive experience I recommend that you invest in an external sound system: either a sound bar or a full blown Home Theatre system. These are discussed in the home theatre section.