6 New Things To Know About Smart TVs and Where the Tech Is Heading
The best smart TVs are bigger, better and more usable than ever. If it’s been a few years since you upgraded your TV set, there’s a lot to be excited about this year.
1. Smart TVs are getting bigger
With the announcement of the TCL 98” XL 4K UHD QLED TV with Google TV (formerly Android TV) and the LG G2 97” 4K OLED TV (the largest ever OLED) at CES, following on from the Samsung 98” Neo QLED 4K HDR Smart TV announced last year, it’s safe to say we’re in for a new age of monster smart TVs. We suspect in the next year or two, one of the big manufacturers will push the boundaries and launch a widely available 100” smart TV.
Will any of these models fit in your living room? Maybe not. But they offer serious options for anyone with the space for a home theater who doesn’t want the hassle of a smart projector setup.
2. Smart TVs are getting better
It can be hard to separate genuine new features from marketing buzzwords sometimes, but over the next few years you’re going to see some widely available genuine improvements to smart TVs.
Some things to look out for are:
- The best OLED TVs offer the highest image quality but they’ve previously only been available in 48”+ models. Now, though, LG has announced the 42” C2 OLED TV, which will be the smallest OLED TV available—and quite possibly a contender for the best ever TV for gaming.
- TVs with faster frame rates, in particular a refresh rate of 120 Hz, are going to be more common. They’ll offer the best 4K gaming performance with the latest consoles, as well as a better viewing experience for high frame rate video.
- HDMI 2.1 is here and it’s a big step forward from HDMI 2.0. It enables higher resolutions, higher frame rates and a lot more bandwidth from peripherals like games consoles and 4K Blu-ray players.
- New display technologies like QD-OLED, mini-LED and micro-LED are available for high-end TVs. They all offer things like better color reproduction, deeper blacks, more control over contrast, brighter screens for better daytime viewing and generally just cooler-looking TV shows and movies. Over the next little bit, expect these new technologies to trickle down to more affordable models.
3. Smart TVs are getting more affordable
The smart TV competition heating up is great for customers. It means there are more affordable and better models available.
Take those monster 98” 4K QLED smart TVs from Samsung and TCL. Samsung’s model, announced last year as the first widely available 98” TV, has a suggested price of $15,000. The TCL model announced this year? Still costly, with a suggested price of $10,000. If you want something slightly smaller, last year’s TCL 85″ 4K QLED HDR Roku Smart TV is available at a suggested price of $3,000.
8K TVs still aren’t exactly cheap, but they’re now much more affordable and in line with other top-end TVs. Take the Samsung 8K TV lineup: You can expect to spend in the low thousands for the 65” Samsung Neo QLED 8K.
And, of course, this also happens at the low end, too. 4K TVs, like the Samsung 43” Q60A QLED 4K Smart TV, can now be had for less than $500. An unfathomable price just a few years ago!
4. Free HDTV is getting better with NextGen TV
While you probably stream a lot of movies and TV shows, free antenna TV is also getting a lot better, thanks to NextGen TV (or ATSC 3.0). It’s currently rolling out across the country, and more new TVs are supporting the relevant standards. This means free HDTV will be able to offer 4K resolution, HDR and 120 Hz frame rates.
If you haven’t upgraded your TV in a few years, it might not support NextGen TV, but something like this 50” Sony Smart TV in the $500 range is a great option to check out.
5. Gaming is coming to smart TVs
As well as streaming movies and TV shows, you’ll soon be able to play games directly on your TV (as long as your internet connection is strong enough). Cloud gaming offloads the hard work of running the game to a server you connect to over the internet, which means you can play using any device, from your smartphone to your TV.
Samsung’s Gaming Hub, which launches later this year, will be the first to offer cloud gaming libraries from GeForce Now, Stadia and Utomik on some Samsung smart TVs. But you can be sure that other manufacturers will soon follow.
6. TVs might be embracing cameras again
Despite the popularity of video conferencing over the last couple years, it’s hard to find a TV with a built-in webcam. But Sony is looking to change that.
At CES this year, the company announced the Bravia Cam. As well as enabling you to make video calls, you’ll also be able to control your TV with hand gestures—no need to find the smart remote under the sofa. If you want one soon, it’s included with some of Sony’s latest Bravia models like the XR-48 4K HDR TV with smart Google TV.
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Products and features may have changed and are subject to change.