Seeking a new TV

I’m seeking a new TV. This is a hard problem because my use case is atypical (I can’t imagine why), and because the features that interest me are not in the comparison matrix of most sites.

My user stories:

  • I want to watch Plex, Netflix, Youtube, and iPlayer.
  • I want a 10-foot interface (sit on sofa, use remote control) for most watching.
  • I want to Chromecast/Google Cast at any time. I want the TV to switch automatically from whatever it is doing once casting starts.
  • I don’t care about broadcast / freeview. I will never use this.
  • I want good sound, and am willing to buy a sound bar.
  • I want to play Wii, and will soon upgrade to a Wii U.

Required:

  • Low latency in TV interface.
  • Ability to switch inputs at any time, even when the smart TV interface is booting.
  • Doesn’t automatically switch to broadcast/freeview decoding at any time.
  • 1080p LED display.
  • 3+ HDMI inputs with CEC and at least one with ARC for a sound bar.
  • Black or white in colour. Not silver.

Preferred but optional:

  • 4K UltraHD
  • 4 HDMI inputs, 1 composite (3 RGB+stereo sound)
  • USB ports for Chromecast power

Perhaps you have some advice? Please remember that just like job openings, “requirements” means “please meet at least 2/3 of them”.

Barring good recommendations, I think I’ll have to visit some actual shops with my chromecast and hotspot to do some tests. Results forthcoming.

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  1. Mark Denovich’s avatar

    Yeah, hard to search on those criteria. I do most of those things with a 55″ Samsung. It’s connected to a Mac Mini in my basement via HDMI through the wall. Our display is basically a monitor as all our content (Plex, EyeTV, Youtube, etc) is served up by the mac. We control it all with our phones. (Misplacing remotes happens… Our phones are always in arms reach). We have a big soundbar that provides excellent sound. It’s connected to a big, networked Denon AV amp in the basement with the mini. My design criteria was: no wires, no audible fans, no blinking lights/blazing leds. It’s almost flush to the wall with the soundbar above the display.

    Ok, I know I didn’t answer your question. But if I were looking for those answers the first place I’d look would be http://www.avsforum.com

    Reply

  2. Abdulkareem Ali’s avatar

    Samsung 48′ or larger curve tv with latest software that has the “mouse like” additional remote, point and shoot, all the above is checked. You can hook your RPi to it’s own USB and let it power it and hook it back to the TV. As well as Chromecast, casting app, or if you have a Samsung phone you can cast to it without any additional dongles.

    Sound system, I also have a Samsung full surround sound system, not just a sound bar, and it’s awesome. Although, few years old so I’m sure something newer came along. Sound choices are many, depends on what you’re willing to pay, and there are many that are even wireless and even with a touchscreen remote!.

    Reply

  3. Lars K’s avatar

    Not that unusual at all :). I’ve been looking long and got really annoyed with everyone trying to push Samsung as “the best there is”. Quite frankly Samsung will win every single feature shootout, but their image quality is really not that great. I’m talking about actual colors and feel. The curve thing is a huge scam and will always create reflections. Also, after finally getting to razor thin displays – why giving up space on the wall again for something that sticks out??

    Anyway, I came around to see the TV as just a display. But it needs to be an awesome one! Who knows what great little box or service will come out in 2 years time – as long as it has HDMI you’re set. The “smart” feature will be outdated way before the end of your TV’s lifespan.
    If you want quality images you have to go with either high end Panasonic or 4K-OLED LG. Sound will always be an issue, on flat TV’s. If the volume is missing sound just can’t be good. Basic physics, no matter what the sales dude will tell you :). I went for a Sonos Playbar + sub. Not cheap but great sound. It also connects well with Spotify or other streaming services so you can use it for music while not watching TV. A local iTunes server should work as well, didn’t try that yet.

    So, after 6 month searching and trying (yes – I took my laptop to the store and compared photos on the TV screen to my MacBook retina) I ended up with an LG 55EF950V. The image is stunning and 4k content from Netflix looks gorgeous. I never watch free TV and connect to my Plex server via the build in media player app. It doesn’t have the nice graphics that Plex offers but does the job. You can buy a better Plex app in the content store but so far I didn’t even bother creating an account.

    LG TV’s run WebOS these days. It’s not super fast, but it didn’t hold me back on anything yet. There’s a special input selector on the remote that will give you quick access to your HDMI ports. Netflix and is already installed on it and ready for use pretty much right after you start the TV. Maybe there’s a 5s extra delay, but you’d barely notice. Same for all other apps.

    There are 2 flaws I could see so far but they have workarounds…

    1) Sonos does only to Dolby AC-3. Not really an issue unless you have a lot of movies with DTS coded sound on your Plex server. I did briefly play with Plex config files and could convert to AC3, but other things went wrong on the server. Didn’t have time to give it another try but as a prove of concept it worked.

    2) 4k h265 mkv files don’t stream from Plex. Part of this is due to LG I believe. If you get hold of 4K content (somehow) that is h265 in an mkv container you’d have to put it on a USB drive and play it directly connected to your TV. It’s a little annoying, but then again – there isn’t much out there in that format either. Netflix is still my main source for 4K.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to help :).

    Reply

    1. Tyler Wagner’s avatar

      Sounds like you want an nVidia Shield for playing Plex at 4K.

      What I really want is a Vizio P-series: 4K, 50″ – 80″, 4K, not OLED but still very good, built-in Google Chrome with updates direct from Google, and otherwise no “smart TV” or even freeview decoder. It’s a high-end HDMI display. Managed by an android app, and coming with a stock android tablet. They are the first and only manufacturer to have figured out that we don’t want their crappy software, we want what they are good at and nothing more.

      Sadly, they only market in North America. But I’m seriously considering shipping one at my expense.

      Reply

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