If you’re looking for a new Smart TV before Christmas, or willing to wait for the post-Christmas sales, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best TVs.
Today, we start with televisions for the bedroom or spare room.
For the bedroom
When it comes to picking out a Smart TV with a smaller screen, the choices might be a bit more limited but we’ve found a couple that offer you the full Smart TV experience and won’t require any long cables to connect to the net.
Sony’s 22-inch KDL22EX553 and 26-inch KDL26EX553 (£350 and £390 respectively) are ideal sets for a bedroom, but despite being 2012 models, each TV has a 720p HD panel, rather than the full-HD one you might expect.
But, given the size of the screens, even in 26-inch guise, HD pictures still looks crisp. Although there’s not much in the way of games, and the Opera web browser feels quite clunky and slow, you do get easy access to a range of streaming services including Netflix, iPlayer and Lovefilm, as well as Sony’s own music and video service.
The menu system also ties things together quite well, making it possible to bookmark favourite apps and content for easy access later on.
With support for Freeview HD channels, and Wi-Fi to connect to your router without cables, you can do a nice clean install with just a power lead and antenna cable on show. If you want to further enhance the experience, grab the Bravia remote app and you’ll be managing everything from your smartphone.
If you don’t have a separate set top box, you can easily hook up an external hard drive to one of the integrated USB ports and pause, rewind and record live TV. Get one that can be powered via the USB socket, such as this 1TB model from Samsung, and you can simply attach it on the back to make it totally invisible. Just be aware that your data will be encrypted and work only with your television, so it’s not possible to take the content and view anywhere else. Sony is quite strict when it comes to things like this.
Naturally, the Sony will also let you connect to other wireless devices using DLNA, and you don’t need to own a Sony device (although Sony clearly hopes that you will!).
An alternative to the Sony is Samsung’s £250 UE22ES5410. Offering the same Smart TV services as far more expensive models, as well as full-HD resolution, our only disappointment was from learning that it lacked Freeview HD channels and comes with just one HDMI input. Still, with only four HD channels broadcasting at the moment it’s not necessary a deal breaker.
What’s more, we soon realised that on a 22-inch screen, even the standard definition channels look pretty good – especially with Samsung’s range of picture enhancements, the best of which allows you to adjust things to match your viewing position. With many bedroom TVs likely to be mounted on a wall, this enhances the picture quality without the need to tilt the set to aim directly at you.
Like the Sony sets, Wi-Fi keeps cabling down to a minimum and you can also enjoy all of the key streaming services, as well as a number of games and remote control via your smartphone or tablet. It’s also set up to work with DLNA devices and Samsung’s take on this – AllShare.
Toshiba 23RL933 (£230)
An affordable option for a 23-inch set, but it will require a separate Wi-Fi dongle to get online if you don’t fancy extra cabling, such as the Belkin Smart TV Link (£50). The Toshiba also supports WiDi to mirror the screen of compatible PCs.
Loewe Connect 22 SL (£500)
Although you’re paying more for the design here, the 22-inch Loewe has a dual-tuner Freeview HD receiver, two HDMI inputs, Wi-Fi and two USB ports.
Philips 22PFL3517T (£240)
Another TV that lacks Wi-Fi, so you’ll need to either opt to use an Ethernet cable (perhaps with a power line adapter) or get a separate Belkin Smart TV Link for £50.