Help! Smart TVs, media centres and all that nonsense

About a year ago my TV broke, and doesn't really pick up a TV signal any more. I'm also bored of plugging in my laptop to watch films from iTunes or wherever, and it's probably about time I got Netflix (or something similar), so I can binge.
So, I need to buy a TV, and probably at least one other box in order to get a basic media centre going. There's rather a lot of choice though, so I'm looking for opinions:
- Do you have a smart TV, and if so is it actually worth having? (are the apps any good?)
- If you have a media centre/HTPC, what is it running?
- Is an Apple TV worth having in the UK?
At the moment I'm thinking of buying a 'dumb' TV, an Apple TV for the airplay/mirroring/iTunes/Netflix, and possibly a media centre running XMBC at some point.


  • My current setup, which probably isn't ideal for what you're doing, is:
    - 32" 'dumb' Samsung TV. Quite a few years old now.
    - Playstation 3 for Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube. (apparently it plays games too?) I use PS3Server for streaming other stuff from my PC upstairs.
    - Virgin box for actual TV.
    I have a smaller TV upstairs which I use with a Raspberry Pi with RaspBMC to play pretty much anything through XBMC.
    It's a real shame that the Raspberry Pi isn't authorised to play Netflix. If it could do that, it'd basically be all you need for all media requirements - which is pretty cool for ~£30.
  • HarHar
    edited July 2013
    We've got the dumbest of the dumb in terms of TVs at our house, and it's by design: an old Sony 27" CRT style TV, a pre-Blueray DVD player, even an old VHS tape player...with no cable TV (it's available; we just don't want it), no connection to our computers for Netflix or YouTube, and we can't even pull in normal broadcast TV stations where we live. And that's actually how we like it.  :))  
    So that means any actual television watching we do at home is usually DVD box sets of stuff like The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd to keep ourselves amused.  ;) 
  • Haha, that's similar to my current setup!
  • Wow, I have no idea what you guys are talking about. @-) ; I'm so far behind the times I've got 2 PICTURE TUBE televisions.......yes, tube- with RCA jacks and s-video connections AND one of the picture tubes is going so I get 3/4 of a screen. They're Philips brand and both are over 10 years old. The only saving grace here is the PS3 which kind of makes me look semi current. Oh and HF2U which makes me look top-notch.
    Daniel- I was surprised to see how the new flat panel tvs cost so little to run. I saw a 56" flat panel LED tv at a local store and it said it's yearly average energy consumption was like 9 dollars or 6.06 pounds a year. I think it was an average of 3 or 4 hours a day which I sometimes watch way more.
    Good luck on your hunt to entertainment nirvana. :D
  • edited July 2013
    I currently have a dumb flatscreen and use a wireless bluray player to stream netflix and obviously blurays and dvds through hdmi. I also have a Roku that was a gift. They work great for streaming web content. I am about to buy a ps3 to be my media player, though. It seems like ps3 is the best all around media player (for my needs). I dont have cable TV. I consider it a massive waste of money and I can wait until shows are on disk or streaming. I love that XBMC is still out there. I used to use the earliest versions on my hacked xbox back in the day.
  • Yeah, XBMC is fantastic. Combined with the Raspberry Pi it makes for a remarkably cheap and silent media box.
  • AdyAdy Staff
    I have a Samsung Smart TV, which was top of the line when I purchased it about 2 years ago. It looks like this one, although this is obviously the newer model.
    The Apps are nice & well represented, you have all of your typical BBC iPlayer, iTV, 4oD, as well as things like Netflix, LoveFilm, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Rightmove and the apps work just like their iOS / Android counterparts. The interface is nicely presented, but does feel a little bit 'clunky' at times possibly due to using a TV remote rather than a touchscreen or controller. But once the App is launched, the lay-out is the same & easy to navigate.
    The TV has built in WiFi so no need to worry about running wires all the way through the house or using 'Homeplugs'. As we are both with Virgin Media, I can't see you having a problem using the wireless connection as we both have the same equipment. 
    Much like Simon, I use my PS3 as a Media Server & stream content to the TV that way.
    I don't have an Apple TV so couldn't comment, Josh might be the best person to ask about that. :D 
  • I'm surprised how much I use my Smart Tv... well... three features anyway.
    I upgraded from an old 'dumb' Panasonic 50" plasma to a 60" LG LED.
    The TV is close enough to my main PC that I have it connected with a HDMI cable as a second monitor. I find that very useful for showing photos, etc to visitors. Or even just browsing the web together.
    However, I was doing that before on the old Panasonic.
    New things with the LG that I actually use. (most of the apps are crap. really. Especially with the PC connected to it)
    1> I like the way my Android phone (Nexus 4) and iPad can each just send the youtube clip you are watching to the tv with the push of a button. That really is a nice feature. Browse youtube on the mobile device, say to the room "Look at this clip!", press a button and there it is.
    2> For some reason I prefer watching movies from my PC on the TV streaming through Plex... instead of just using the dual screen thing on the PC. I'm not sure why, I just prefer the setup and being able to select and control stuff with the remote control. (I've got a Harmony One remote)
    3> Not really a smart TV thing as such, but I do use the 3d system on the TV for Dual Play with the PS3. My daughter and I are not fans of split screen, but with a couple of sets of Dual Play glasses we can both play COD Blop2 together with a full screen view each. And no screen cheating either! Only problem is that no one else watching can really tell what is going on.
  • 3> Not really a smart TV thing as such, but I do use the 3d system on the TV for Dual Play with the PS3. My daughter and I are not fans of split screen, but with a couple of sets of Dual Play glasses we can both play COD Blop2 together with a full screen view each. And no screen cheating either! Only problem is that no one else watching can really tell what is going on.

    This is rather fascinating. I've never heard of this and hadn't realised it was a possibility. Very cool!

  • I currently have and older 65" jvc in my living room "dumb tv"  and just purchased a vizio smart tv for the bedroom. In the living room I have and HD antenna and xbox. I use the xbox for  netflix and hulu as well as I stream things I have ripped or saved on my i-mac. For streaming  to the xbox  I use a program called  connect360. 
    In the bedroom with the vizio smart tv it has  netflix and hulu built in with wireless which is great. It also has a usb port so I can plug in a gig stick or harddrive and play movies. I can also stream to it from my i-mac but for  it I had to get  ps3 server for the vizio to see it.  Only downside about streaming from my mac to the vizio is it takes a while to load up anything but then again its trying to look at almost a terabyte wirelessly.
  • I have a Sony Bravia 46" LCD (Dumb TV) with my PS3 attached for Blu Ray movies and Netflix Instant.
    I've been happy with the purchase for a couple of years now and haven't needed much more - I don't even have cable TV and I realized how freeing that can be.
    The one thing that I love about my Bravia is that it doesn't have that sick looking 120HZ refresh rate that makes even 24fps movies look like live 30fps TV sitcoms.  My sister has one of those and I can't stand to watch it.
  • Before you convert iTunes movies to smart TV, you should know that iTunes movies and TV shows are encrypted by Fiarplay DRM technology. So in order to watch iTunes videos on smart TV, you should remove DRM from iTunes videos firstly. There is no direct way to remove DRM protection by yourself, since you are not the professional one in this field. The only way for you is to discover a smart third-party software, such as iTunes DRM M4V  Converter, which can remove iTunes M4V DRM legally and convert them to multiple formats quickly, such as MOV, MP4, AVI, MPEG, MKV, WMV. etc. Therefore, you are able to convert iTunes digital content to any smart TV freely. Fortunately, DRmare has unveiled its Christmas Deals to express thankfulness and gratitude for all users, so you can get any DRM remover at up to 50% discount.

  • Well, that's nice of them.....
    Spamity spam again :( Where's the mallet?

  • @Palacono this user has other comments in other threads, although, yes, they all relate to the other software. User account has been PM'd by me and has 20 hours to get back to me before I report. 

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