Smart TVs don’t have to break the bank. New releases catering to a range of budgets hit the store shelves regularly, including plenty of mid-range models sporting an array of smart technologies.
However, even a mid-price model represents a five-to-10 year investment, so it’s worthwhile taking the time to research the types of smart TVs on offer, and to shop around for a model that both suits your requirements and fits your budget.
In the following guide, we focus on some of the smart features to keep in mind, and take a look at the smart TVs currently on offer from Panasonic, LG, Samsung and Sony.
Smart TV features
Smart TVs feature in-built internet connectivity, providing a range of different functions, from streaming online video and music content, to interacting with other smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
Video streaming, in particular, has fuelled a boom in smart TVs. Netflix and Apple TV are now everyday services in Kiwi households, while the rollout of UFB has paved the way for faster and ever more data-intensive applications.
For consumers shopping for a smart TV, some features to consider include:
- Operating system – the operating system supports the range of functions available on a smart TV. It’s worthwhile considering how user-friendly the interface is and the types of functions available.
- App compatibility – the more apps a TV supports, the more options you’ll have available, and the greater the capacity to discover new services.
- Smart device compatibility – some TVs are capable of sharing content, including video and photos, with other smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
- Smart app control – your smartphone or tablet could double as a remote control.
- Voice control – may be available via a variety of methods, directly through the TV’s remote, or via a smart device, utilising a digital assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
- Smart home – as part of a greater ecosystem, a smart TV may be able to interact with and help manage other smart home devices, acting as a hub.
Prior to purchasing a smart TV, it’s worthwhile not only considering device compatibility, but also the configuration of your home network, including ensuring your wireless router is capable of handling your requirements.
The Panasonic TV catalogue comprises a number of different lines across its OLED, Premium Ultra HD, Ultra HD, Full HD and HD categories, supporting a range of smart features and providing consumers a variety of options at different price points.
Across the Panasonic range smart features include:
- Operating system – Panasonic’s My Home Screen is designed to provide easy access to content, with users able to customise the home screen with live TV, their favourite apps, web bookmarks and frequently used devices.
- Apps – support for apps including Netflix, YouTube and TVNZ OnDemand.
- Netflix Calibrated Mode – a menu setting designed to deliver a better Netflix viewing experience.
- Voice control – Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control functionality.
- Smart device compatibility – the Panasonic TV Remote app provides for Android and iOS smart device control, with the Swipe & Share function allowing for sharing of content. The Panasonic Media Centre app’s TV Anytime function provides for access to the TV via a smart device while away from home, with functions including streaming of content from the TV to the smart device.
Some Panasonic smart TV options and prices(*):
- Panasonic 50” 4K Ultra HD Smart TV with HDR10+, Dolby Vision & Dual Tuners (TH-50GX700Z) – $1,098.
- Panasonic 65” Premium 4K Ultra HD Smart TV with HDR10+, Dolby Vision & HCX Pro Intelligent Processor (TH-65GX850Z) – $2,298.
- Panasonic 55” Premium 4K Ultra HD OLED Smart TV with Blade Speaker (TH-55GZ1000U) – $2,899.
LG’s TV range encompasses its OLED, NanoCell, Ultra HD, Full HD and HD categories, and is decked out to deliver a variety of smart features, including the ability of a number of models to act as a home smart device hub.
Across the LG range smart features to look out for include:
- Operating system – LG’s webOS is designed for ease of use, allowing for navigation of channels, external devices and apps.
- Apps – support for apps including Netflix, Apple TV and Disney+.
- AI ThinQ – designed to turn a TV into a central hub, including a home dashboard, with natural voice recognition allowing users to manage a home IoT system.
- Voice control – incorporating Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, with LG’s Magic Remote providing voice command functionality.
- Apple HomeKit and AirPlay – allowing for control of smart home devices, and for the sharing of content, via Apple devices.
- Smart device compatibility – the LG TV Plus app allows users to control their TV settings via Android or iOS devices.
Some LG smart TV options and prices(*):
- LG UHD 43 inch 4K TV (43UN8160PVA) – $1,197.
- LG Nano 8 Series 55 inch 4K TV (55NANO80VNA) – $2,199.
- LG Nano 9 Series 55 inch 4K TV (55NANO91VNA) – $3,058.
Samsung’s TV range comprises models available across its QLED, Premium UHD, UHD, Full HD and HD categories, with a variety of smart features allowing for interaction with smart devices.
Samsung smart TV features include:
- Operating system – Samsung’s Tizen operating system, designed for integration and ease of use, bringing users’ favourite content together in one place.
- Apps – support for a range of apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ and Apple TV.
- Smart Hub & One Remote Control – allowing users to search for content, from their set-top box to a game console, apps and live TV.
- Voice control – Bixby and Amazon Alexa voice assistant functions, with voice control available via the One Remote Control.
- Apple AirPlay – streaming or sharing content from Apple devices to the screen.
- Smart device compatibility – Samsung’s SmartThings app allows for the control of TV settings from an Android or iOS smart device, with the Smart View function allowing for the sharing of content from smart devices.
Some Samsung smart TV options and prices(*):
- Samsung 43” TU8500 Crystal UHD 4K Smart TV 2020 (UA43TU8500SXNZ) – $1,138.
- Samsung 43” The Frame Smart 4K TV 2020 (QA43LS03TASXNZ) – $2,374.
- Samsung 58” Q60T QLED Smart 4K TV (2020) (QA58Q60TASXNZ) – $2,812.
Sony offers a range of TVs across its OLED, Full Array and LED TV categories, running Google’s Android TV operating system and decked out with a variety of smart features, available at varying price points.
Some Sony smart TV features include:
- Operating system – Google’s Android TV operating system, allowing for users to customise their TV by adding their favourite apps.
- Apps – over 5,000 apps available, including Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video and Google Play Movies & TV.
- Netflix Calibrated Mode – a mode specially developed to enjoy Netflix originals.
- Digital assistant voice control – voice search on Android TV and Amazon Alexa functionality.
- Apple HomeKit and AirPlay – delivering control of smart home devices, and streaming of content to the TV, via an Apple device.
- Smart remote – allowing for control of a range of devices connected to the TV, featuring a built-in voice control microphone.
- Smart device compatibility – built-in Chromecast allows for casting from Android and iOS devices.
Some Sony smart TV options and prices(*):
- Sony 55” X70G LED 4K Ultra HD High Dynamic Range Smart TV (KD55X7000G) – $1,299.
- Sony 49” X8000H 4K Ultra HD with High Dynamic Range (HDR) Smart TV (Android TV) (KD49X8000H) – $1,799.95.
- Sony 55” A8G OLED 4K Ultra HD Android TV with Acoustic Surface Audio (KD55A8G) – $2,998.
*Further information on pricing can be found at individual retailer websites. This should be used as a starter guide and not considered an actual quote.
If you’re looking to tune in to the best TV brand, let Canstar Blue’s latest research direct you to the smart choice in smart TVs. Our most recent ratings for Most Satisfied Customers | Televisions singled out Panasonic as a clear winner, awarding it the top overall 5 Star rating. To read the full results of our research, just hit the button below!