Christmas Gadget Countdown Day 9: TV and home entertainment

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without television, so if you haven’t got your’s yet here are a few tips.

Stuff magazine rates the Sony KDL-46HX853, a 46 inch 3D monster with LED backlighting and the best speakers around. And all for under £1,500.

Not big enough? A 55 inch ultra high resolution Toshiba 55ZL2 will cost you £5,500 more. If you need something bigger than that we’d recommend shares in a multi-screen cinema business.

The best way to uprate your existing TV is to invest in a home cinema system to enhance the audio output. The snag is, surround sound usually means trailing cables to all four corners of the room unless you build them in from the outset. One of the neatest solutions is one of the many multi-speaker bars such as the Samsung HT-E8200 which comprises a 104cm speaker bar that sits neatly below your TV and a wireless sub-woofer that will sit just about anywhere else. The built-in Blu-ray player, FM radio, wi-fi and Bluetooth make for a great package at around £500.

For twice as much the Yamaha YSP-4100 does a similar job of simulating surround sound from a single bank of speakers, but twice the cost seems to produce a result that’s twice as good. In fact, Yamaha produces a range of digital sound projectors which constantly gets top marks in hi-fi reviews.

For those on a budget, stores such as Richer Sounds carry a range of home cinema soundbars starting at around £50, so there truly is something for everyone.

That’s most of the equipment you need – now you just need something to watch. However, the various digital TV providers – Sky, Virgin, BT, etc - offer a bewildering choice of channels, so the other thing you’ll need is a large had disc recorder. The facility to record several programmes at a time with a SKY+ or Tivo box makes these virtually indispensable, added to which they are just SO much easier to program than an old-fashioned VCR.

Returning to the working accountant, don’t forget to get an HDMI adapter and cable for your iPad so you can download or stream video from the Internet straight onto your TV – it’s so much easier to catch up on those episodes of TaxTV on a big screen!

Comments
John Stokdyk's picture

Web TV & PVR

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

I'm afraid my pay at AccountingWEB doesn't enable me to lay out £1.5k-£5k for a multiplex-sized TV screen. And our living room isn't big enough to accommodate it.

We make do instead with a paltry 32in Sony flat screen that is getting on a few years. Sadly, the Sony PVR we got to accompany it was one of the electronics giants duds. Like a crappy old PC it took ages to boot up, the controls were slow, and the recordings frequently skipped on us. Rather than send it to the WEEE centre, we plugged it into an old non-digital TV in the kitchen so we can now watch while we're there.

In its place I got a Panasonic DMRBWT720 Blu-ray recorder. This was the most ludicrously over-specced device on the market: multi-region disc player, wireless home network compatibility and some web apps, twin recording heads, USB and SD interfaces and all sorts of other stuff I haven't figured out yet. But the key component was the SCART socket - the only way to connect to our old Sony screen.

I tried the wireless networking so that I could watch pics and videos from my PC on the living room TV - but why bother? I can just as easily look at them in the office when I feel like it, or store my snaps on SD or USB memory and plug them into the PVR if I really want.

The thing that most impressed me though, was access to the BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix. The Panasonic doesn't have a full web browser capability, but for passive living room viewing those options are just fine. I feel like I'm finally making the transition to the cloud in my personal media consumption habits.

And to pass on a plug for Richer Sounds, they had the machine I wanted and suggested I get a Roth soundbar for £120. The salesman admitted it wasn't as flash and high powered as all those 5.1 surroundsound arrangements, but was very good value for money. It's just a single straight bar with about 6 speakers that sits under the old telly, and it works just fine. I'm looking forward to cranking up the volume to watch Led Zep's 'Celebration Day' over the holiday period. Surfing for musical obscurities on YouTube has never been more enjoyable.

So you don't always need the newest and best kit to get a kick out of consumer electronics - I get more pleasure out of finding the most appropriate fit for my needs and budget.

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