In the evolving world of entertainment, it sometimes feels like the standard television experience is struggling to adapt to our modern lifestyles. Thankfully, there are a number of devices that can take TV to the next level. Here are the top 5 gadgets to supercharge your TV viewing experience:
5. Apple TV (£99)
Once connected to your TV and internet, Apple TV can be used to access content on demand – streaming HD films and TV series. With support for 1080p through HDMI and optical audio out, its sound and picture quality match devices many times larger. However, it is limited to what Apple can offer through iTunes. For those who only wish to access free content or want to avoid buying into Apple’s ecosystem may want to look elsewhere. However, if you already own an Apple device capable of AirPlay such as an iPad, you can use the Apple TV to display your existing content on the big screen, and for some it is worth the asking price for this functionality alone.
4. Slingbox HD (£199)
If you want to take your TV experience on the move, or access your content from anywhere in the world, set up a Slingbox next to your TV and you can access it from any internet connection, where it will stream what would normally display on your TV to most devices – Windows and Mac PCs, smartphones and tablets. Note that you have to leave the A/V devices (such as your Sky box) turned on while you stream, although if you just want to access live Freeview broadcasts, the Slingbox has a Freeview tuner built in.
3. Logitech Harmony Touch (£149)
Probably the most expensive remote you will ever purchase, but there is no better solution if you have multiple devices connected to your TV that all have separate controllers. The Harmony is compatible with almost all IR receivers, so you should never have to use another remote again. If you can deal with the overly-complicated setup, this is a great solution.
2. An HD game console (£150-£350)
There are three HD consoles on the market today – Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii U. These powerful machines are often overlooked for their extra functionality, such as Netflix or catch-up TV apps. The Wii U also has a unique ability to display its content on the gamepad’s screen, which may save a few arguments about who has control of the remote.
1. YouView. catch up TV (£269)
Thanks to some recent firmware updates, YouView. catch up TV is now a very decent proposition. Unlike many devices that allow basic access to services like iPlayer, YouView. catch up TV provides a full seven-day catch up seamlessly integrated into its programme guide. It is the closest thing to a Sky+ box for Freeview content. There are cheaper ways to record live TV (such as a basic hard drive recorder) but YouView is by far the most intuitive.