Are Smart TVs the next big thing? Considering how well received they have been by consumers so far, we were keen to test their performance. We have rounded up three top-scoring 42in Smart TVs out of seven recently tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute and share the results with the readers of IER. Verity Mann, GHI Consumer Researcher, reports
How we test: Each TV is rated for ease of setting up; how simple it is to customise the screen layout; format of the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and how easy it is on the eye. Ease of navigating and selecting your preferences via the remote control. How easy it is to type and select, particularly when using the Internet browser. Finally, we compare sound and picture quality. We combine the scores for performance, ease of use, design and instructions to give an overall score out of 100.
PHILIPS 42PFL7666 42in 3D LED TV, 86/100
This TV had sharp picture quality combined with crisp sound. The sound and picture settings can be tailored to suit what you’re viewing for maximum effect. It offers full access to internet browser and keeps a history of viewed web pages as well as allowing to create bookmarks for quick access. There was a slight delay when using the remote which can make browsing a little frustrating.
TOSHIBA 42WL863B 42in FULL HD 3D PRO-LED TV, 85/100
We rated this TV the best on test for picture quality paired with clear sound. Popular internet content and apps can be customised for up to four people to save time. Unfortunately, it does not come with an internet browser so you can’t surf the net. The EPG is slightly cluttered in appearance and harder to navigate than others.
LG (LW550T) 42in CINEMA 3D LED TV, 82/100
This TV offers full access to internet browser which is easy to use with a realistic web browsing experience. The remote control is easy to type with when browsing web pages. Allows you to bookmark favourite web pages for quick access. We found the sound high pitched compared to others on test and the EPG only displayed five channels at a time. EPG doesn’t fill the screen.
A Smart TV is for you, if:
• You’re an avid catch-up TV fan, such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Player; you can instead easily view it on a large screen rather than on your laptop.
• You regularly watch movies and TV programmes over the internet. From £5.99 a month, you can sign up with companies such as LOVEFiLM or Netflix and stream content straight to your TV.
• You like to Skype (video call for free) family and friends. While none of the Smart TVs we tested came with a built-in camera, but for around £10, you can buy a webcam and enjoy a chat on a larger screen and from the comfort of your living room.
WORTH KNOWING: If you have an old, slow internet connection, there’s no point getting a Smart TV. Wait until you have a download speed of at least 8Mbps (otherwise watching movies/video clips off the internet will be painfully slow). The faster, the better. Check your monthly usage cap (the maximum amount of data your internet service provider allows you to download or upload). To get the most out of Smart TV, get a broadband deal which has an unlimited download cap.
GHI APPROVED SCHEME: This scheme allows manufacturers and retailers to apply for access to the GHI Approved logo. Each product awarded the GHI Approved logo will have passed a series of consumer Quality Assessment Tests devised by the GHI. For further information, please contact Laura Cohen, sales director, 020 7439 5102.