In the past we’ve used this space to wax poetic about picture quality and pixels when discussing smart televisions, but today we’re focused on pure utility—that which separates a clever telly from not-so-smart screens. Namely, the ability to watch whatever you want, whenever you want.
Below are some smart TVs, and smart TV devices, that’ll offer endless possibilities to any couch potato.
We are entering a golden age for the cord-cutting content consumer. Not only are today’s top-tier televisions technological and design marvels that display the silver and small screen offerings in jaw-dropping detail, they are completely connected devices, allowing users to stream their favorite entertainment wherever it resides on the internet.
But which smart set is the smart pick?
Sony’s XBR-Z9D makes a compelling case for being the intelligent television of record.
The XBR-Z9D is part of Sony’s Android TV series, meaning it runs off the Google Android operating system. This system powers basically every smart device not emblazoned with an Apple logo—but that shouldn’t be a hurdle for that sizeable percentage of the population that owns an iPhone. The Android TV user experience is so seamless, straightforward and swift that iPhone enthusiasts won’t have time to worry that they are two-timing the operating system in their pockets.
Users can summon the internet’s most popular entertainment apps at the tap of a button. YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Video, HBO Now and Netflix are all baked into the Android TV experience, allowing for instantaneous engagement and search. The XBR-Z9D has even received the “Recommended by Netflix” seal of approval, which is awarded to televisions that enhance or easily enable the service’s viewing experience.
If for some reason you can’t find what you want to watch on all those internet channels—like the Beyonce concert footage you shot on your iPhone, for example—you can easily “toss” any content from your mobile device or PC on to the TV screen as the XBR-Z9D comes with Google Chromecast technology, which allows for simple screen-mirroring.
One of the XBR-Z9D’s more endearing features is its advanced voice control, which does away with the most tedious aspect of smart TV technology—typing the name of the movie you want to watch on a remote control. Users can simply say “Casablanca” into their clicker and the XBR-Z9D will call up the movie on the streaming service offering it.
— Mansion Global (@MansionGlobal) April 11, 2017
In its final bid to be the smart TV for your smart home, the XBR-Z9D will allow you to control the other smart devices in your house, from lights to temperature (and everything intelligent in between), from your television, via the Logitech Harmony Hub.
The XBR-Z9D is available in 65-inch, 75-inch and 100-inch models and ranges from $4,999 to $59,999 depending on size.
Smarten Up Your Screen Situation
Perhaps you’re already pleased with your current screen situation. Maybe you have one of those Black Diamond Zero Edge projection screens. Just because you already have the optimal viewing experience, does that mean you must miss out on the smart TV revolution?
The Apple TV is a simple way to bring immediate intelligence to your desired viewing device—all that is required is a stable internet connection.
Simply put, Apple TV adds your favorite iPhone (or iPad) apps to your television—optimized for your television. Hulu, Netflix, ESPN, HBO and more are all immediately available upon set up. The iTunes store comes along as well, allowing you to easily rent or buy new releases.
Better still, for the Apple adherents, Apple TV allows for straightforward and stable screen-mirroring of your Apple devices via Airplay. Watching a movie on your iPhone as you walk in the door? Project it on your television with the push of a button.
For those who don’t belong to the Cult of Mac, Roku offers the same core feature—a ton of streaming service apps from traditional (ABC, NBC, ESPN) and non-traditional (Hulu, Amazon, Netflix) channels alike via an easy-to-install peripheral—albeit without the simple screen-mirroring feature.
Apple TV is available in 32GB and 64GB models for $149 and $199 respectively. The Roku is available from $29 to $109 depending on model features.
Alexa, Turn the Channel
For those looking to really lean into the “smart” aspect of smart TV viewing, Amazon has once again answered the call.
In the company’s ongoing attempt to be part of every aspect of your life, Amazon has released The Amazon Fire TV Edition, a 4K LED smart TV, powered by the world’s foremost A.I. assistant, Alexa.
In addition to seamlessly integrated streaming service apps like Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, and Amazon Video (duh), among many, many others, the Fire TV brings the full suite of Alexa skills that should be familiar to Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show owners.
While this means you’ll be able to control all your home’s smart devices (lights, cameras, sound systems) by barking commands at Alexa, it also has some more immediately relevant effects on the television viewing experience.
Fire TV owners will be able to ask Alexa to pause and playback live TV, search for TV shows, launch specific streaming apps, switch video inputs, and yes, change the channel.
The Amazon Fire TV Edition is available in 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch and 65-inch models and ranges from $499 to $899 depending on size.
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