Tech

Best Smart TV 2019: every smart TV platform ranked, rated and reviewed

Smart TVs are so common now that using the word ‘smart’ almost seems unnecessary. It’s rare you’ll find a new TV that doesn’t come with some form of smart capability – whether that’s LG’s WebOS, Samsung’s Tizen or Google’s Android TV that’s used on Sony and Hisense TVs.

And while the majority of these smart TV platforms function similarly by giving you access to apps, streaming services and basic smart home functionality, they each have their pros and cons – and for that reason we’ve put together a guide to the best smart TV platforms you’ll find on new sets in 2019 and beyond.

We’ve come a long way from the early days of TV smart capability, marked by awful performance, non-existent software updates, and a general lack of manufacturer support. We want to explore what makes new platforms so great and provide you some insight as to which screens have the best performance. 

Smart TV: The State of the Union

So just where do we stand on Smart TVs? Do you know your Roku TV from your SmartCast? Your Tizen from webOS? If not, this section is for you.

In 2018, there are five main smart operating systems: Android TV, webOS, Tizen, Roku TV and SmartCast that are used by Sony, LG, Samsung, TCL and Vizio, respectively. In the UK, you’ll find that Philips also uses Android while Panasonic uses its own proprietary system called MyHomeScreen. 

The vast majority of TVs use the operating systems listed above – but not all TVs. At lower price points, you probably won’t find any of the above as most TV manufacturers offer a narrow proprietary service instead. These will vary between manufacturers, however, by and large, they’re not as good as the ones listed above for the sheer reason that they aren’t updated as frequently. 

When in doubt, try to buy one a TV with one of the above. 

That said, if you’re completely undecided on which smart TV to buy, it’s worth considering the value of each of these smart systems – which we’ll list below.

(Scale: Awful, Bad, OK, Good, Better, Best)

Best Smart TV 2018: Android TV

Android TV (found on 2019 Sony 4K and OLED TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Good | Speed: OK | Number of apps: Better | Universal search: Better

  • Pros: Recommended content row. Clean layout.  
  • Cons: Most builds are very buggy and prone to crashing. 

 Android TV is the nearest the smart TV universe has to a standardized operating system, but there are still variations between brand executions.

Sony has the most comprehensive Google solution. For UK viewers, it has rather cleverly layered a YouView program guide platform on top, deftly addressing one of Android TV’s big weaknesses – catch-up TV provision. This YouView app ensures that all the main catch-up services are provided, and accessible via a roll-back 7-day EPG.

Other supporters of Android TV are Philips (via maker TP Vision) and in the US, Sharp and Hisense. It’s also available on the Nvidia Shield streaming device.   

While other TV platforms make a virtue of their minimalism, Android stacks the screen with various layers of content: There’s also a row of specific Sony selected content, followed by apps for Netflix, Amazon Video, links to the Google Play Store, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV, YouTube and so on.

Owners of Android phones/tablets can use their device to control Android TVs via Sony’s TV SideView app, and Google Assistant continues to get more and more useful with its own Android TV integration.

Android TV devices also have Chromecast built-in, which simplifies streaming from mobile Android devices (iOS users can download the AirBuddy app to Google Cast). Controllers from Logitech and Razer also promise gaming without needing a console.

There is a caveat though. In our experience, Android is the least stable of the various smart platforms, with Sony TVs exhibiting more than their fair share of failures – it’s not unusual to be notified that various aspects of the Android platform have stopped working, and some of these messages are completely inscrutable (usually the best option is to simply restart the TV).

To be fair to Google, this is becoming less of an issue as successive Android TV updates roll out – the latest incarnation is particularly slick on the Nvidia Shield, for example – but there’s still room for improvement.

Best Smart TV 2018: WebOS

WebOS (found on 2019 LG OLED, Nano Cell and some UHD TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Good | Speed: Better | Number of apps: Bad | Universal search: OK

  • Pros: Alexa and Google Assistant integration. Fast to navigate.  
  • Cons: The least robust in terms of apps of all the smart TV platforms. 

LG rewrote the rulebook for smart TV platforms with its webOS, starting the trend for minimal, simplified user interfaces back in 2014.

Since then it’s been gradually refining its offering, leading us to the all-new WebOS 4.5 that’s going to make its debut in 2019. 

The UI, which is still built around a Launch Bar for apps, inputs and features, remains tidy and customizable this year, plus you can change the running order to best suit how you use the set. If you like to Miracast images from your smartphone, grab the Screen Share app with LG’s cursor-based Magic Remote and move up further up the pecking order.

App support is excellent. Netflix streams 4K with both HDR and Dolby Vision, as well as Dolby Atmos audio when available. There’s also Amazon with UHD HDR and YouTube in 4K. Other options include Now TV, Sky Store, Wuaki.TV, plus all the main channel catch-up services.

As we’ve seen on earlier webOS builds, these streaming apps remain open and live, even when you navigate away from them. This means you can pause Star Trek Discovery, browse the TV listings for The Walking Dead, and then return to the action.

Other cool features recently added to the platform include 360-degree video playback (from 360-degree videos on YouTube), support for both Google Assistant and Alexa, and an OLED still image gallery. LG screens also have Freeview Play in the UK, which means a full larder of catch-up television. 

For US viewers, there’s Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Google Play TV and Movies, as well as Hulu, VUDU, MLB.TV, and FandangoNow.

Best Smart TV 2018: Tizen

Tizen (found on Samsung 2019 QLED and NU-Series TVs)

Setup: Good | Ease of use: Good | Speed: Better | Number of apps: Bad | Universal search: Bad

  • Pros: TV Plus offers free channels. Fast to navigate. 
  • Cons: Universal search can be hit or miss. 

Samsung is another brand keen to keep things simple – its Tizen OS clearly owes much to LG’s webOS interface, in so much as it consists of icons, apps and shortcuts all accessible via icons held a horizontal strip across the bottom of the screen. A dynamically changing ‘Recent’ box in the far-left corner cycles between recently used apps and TV channels.

But it’s not overly intelligent as it stands right now, but that could change in the future when Samsung integrates its TV AI into Tizen.

For now, we like the fact that on-screen icons can be changed: a sense of identity is welcome when it comes to some AV inputs and key apps you use everyday. The OS cuts down on clutter, although this sometimes works against navigation – there are plenty of occasions when it’s necessary to go hunting for a specific app. Thankfully that’s made easier by a Smart Hub multimedia page that divvies up content from apps and from your own USB sticks/home network.

On some of the higher-end TVs, you’ll also get Bixby built-in as well as Samsung SmartThings that allows your TV to act as the center of your connected home.

Best Smart TV 2018: Roku TV

Roku TV (found on 2019 TCL and Hisense TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Better | Speed: Better | Number of apps: Good | Universal search: Best

  • Pros: Best universal search. Very easy to use. 
  • Cons: Interface feels a bit plain in 2019.

Despite Android TV and all the proprietary portals available, there’s still room for other connected smart offerings. In Europe, Vestel has its own stripped back smart platform, which is used for TV companies it manufactures for, including Toshiba and JVC. It’s unfancy but does the basics.

In the US, TV maker Element now offers a screen with Amazon’s Fire TV OS built in.

But perhaps the most interesting second-division smart OS is Roku TV. 

Announced back in 2014 for TCL TVs, Roku TV has found support with low-cost US TV suppliers. Today, you can find Roku TV on quite a few Haier, Hisense, Insignia, Sharp and TCL TV models.

As a platform, Roku TV borrows the interface and feature set from the company’s popular media streamers, like the Roku Streaming Stick.

What that means is that you’ll find a universal search function able to scan over 30 different apps like Netflix, Google Play TV and Movies, Amazon, VUDU and more to find you the lowest price on the TV show or movie you want to watch, as well as around 4,500 channels of content to watch.

Add to that some neat features like a dedicated app that helps you keep track of upcoming movies and TV shows via the My Feed section, and a private listening mode (via headphones that plug into the remote) when you want to watch TV without disturbing the whole house.

Best Smart TV 2018: SmartCast

SmartCast (found on 2018 Vizio TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: OK | Speed: Bad | Number of apps: Good | Universal search: OK

  • Pros: Has Google Chromecast built-in.  
  • Cons: Slower than most other TV operating systems.

SmartCast, on paper, is a great idea. It’s all the fun extras of the Android TV platform – including the ability to Cast content to your screen – with a more logical layout. 

When you turn on a SmartCast TV be prepared to see three rows – one featured row that has huge marquee images to point you to specific shows or movies; one row for recommended content and one row for all your apps. 

If you want to drill down into specific content categories or settings, you can move to one of the other tabs (there’s a tab for movies, TV shows, Support and Extras) or go to the top right of the screen to perform a search.

Unfortunately, while SmartCast provides a lot of versatility in what you can stream, it’s also one of the slower smart platforms and can misbehave on occasion. 

Best Smart TV Platform 2018: MyHomeScreen

MyHomeScreen (found on 2019 Panasonic TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Good | Speed: Better | Number of apps: OK | Universal search: OK

  • Pros: Fast and responsive.  
  • Cons: A bit plain.

If you live in the UK, Panasonic’s My Home Screen 2.0 is one of the most customizable smart TV platforms around. Built on the open-source code of Mozilla’s Firefox TV OS, Panasonic’s My Home Screen 2.0 smart TV interface combines an intuitive minimalism with extensive customization options.

The platform looks simple but has some inspired functionality: the home screen launches with three buttons (Live TV, Apps and Devices), but you can pin more as required, perhaps for a favorite streaming service, or a specific input. There are now also folders for multiple users, while a My App button on the remote can be customised for faster access to favourite content. A revamped Media Player supports 4K HDR10 and HLG HDR, meanwhile.

App provision is good. Netflix streams in 4K with HDR, and Amazon Video and YouTube also offer 4K support. Catch-up TV service support is integrated through the provision of Freeview Play. This includes iPlayer, ITVHub, Demand 5 and All4, and usability is great across the board.

The OS is extremely convenient to live with, yet powerful enough to cater for a variety of different users, be they family members who just want their favorite channels pinned to the home screen, or TV enthusiasts keen to dive quickly between multiple sources.

What’s the best smart TV?

LG OLED65E8

Best Smart TV with webOS

The OLED65E8 provides a huge range of apps and streaming services.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Comments (2)

  1. It’s in reality a great and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you simply shared this useful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank
    you for sharing.

  2. You can gget complete planning, execution and reporting developments.
    Thiss can be of significant use specially when the necessity arises to express educational videos in than one room simultaneously whichh decreases the
    some tie tto cost. A hotel may distribute terrestrial aand satellite television programmes to every room all the waay through the building.

Comment here