Gadget Countdown 3: TV and home entertainment
The question last year was – “how big is big enough?” Well, this year TVs are even bigger but - as they say - size isn't everything!
If you’re shopping for a new TV for Christmas 2013, the Samsung 85 inch UHD TV is about the biggest one in the shops right now, at an eye-watering £35,000. However, if you can wait just a little longer their 110 inch models should be around in early 2014 – presumably with price tags to match.
Back in the real world, Stuff Magazine has given the top place in its TV chart for 2013 to the more modest 55 inch plasma screen Panasonic TX-P55VT65B, a snip at just £2,050. They reckon the picture quality is unrivalled.
However, what’s a great picture without great sound to go with it? Surround sound is at the top of my shopping list – when we move house. In the meantime I don’t want wires all round the lounge, but thankfully I don’t need them. The £1,000 Yamaha YSP-3300 is the first sound bar to offer real surround sound by cleverly bouncing the sound off your walls to give you the illusion that there are speakers all round you. Even the separate sub-woofer is wireless!
Multi-room HiFi specialists Sonos have their own TV soundbar too, but they really win over the opposition when it comes to streaming your music around the house, so we’ll leave that for our audio and music round-up later in the week.
So if size isn’t everything – what next? In my opinion it has to be mobility. Most of the latest TVs have iPad and Android apps that give you far greater control than an old-fashioned remote control (and you’re less likely to lose them), and most also allow you to view the same program on the tablet’s screen, so you can take it with you and carry on watching the film or match when you leave the room.
In fact, for solo viewing, the screen on the latest iPad makes for a pretty good HD TV or video screen. Tablets also offer an easy solution to the perennial Christmas TV problem, when everyone wants to watch a different program, without having to kit out every room in the house with a huge TV. A £99 Apple TV box is the simple way to distribute TV video and audio to all your devices, or for a little more money an AV network receiver like the £349 Sony STR-DN840 can stream just about anything anywhere in your house.
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Use the Comment box below to add your suggestions for this year's must-have TV and home cinema kit. We like to think we've seen them all, but we're sure we haven't!
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I'm a partner with Burton Sweet, chartered accountants & business advisers, and run the Shepton Mallet office down in beautiful Somerset. Despite the name, Shepton Mallet is actually the home of Glastonbury Festival! I trained in audit and corporate tax with Grant Thornton and came to my current position in 1991 via small local practices...