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The 7 best Smart TVs: what is the best Smart TV of 2014

We rank and review the best Smart TVs of 2014

The 7 best Smart TVs of 2014

If you're in the market for a brand new Smart TV and want to learn more about which one to choose, you've come to the right place. Here is where we rank and review 2014's 7 best Smart TV as well as offering our expert buying advice that will arm you with all the knowledge you need, should you want to buy a TV that is not featured in this chart. See also Group test: what's the best LCD display?

The first thing that you need to consider when buying a Smart TV is the screen size. The bigger you go, the more expensive the Smart TV is going to be. Also if you're buying a TV for a living room that is on the small side, the last thing your home - and your bank balance - need is a monstrous screen dominating the room (a huge proportion of TVs are returned because they're too big).

We recommend between 37in and 50in for the average UK living room, although some people would consider 50in to be too large. You will, of course, quickly get used to the size, even if upgrading from a much smaller set.

Next, consider something more technical: what sort of screen technology you want your Smart TV to have. LED is the most common in modern TVs but plasma is the other main option. Take a look at our Plasma vs LED comparison to find out more.

Ports and connections - You'll want as many HDMI inputs as possible, consider three a minimum. If you have older kit, look for Scart and component inputs. If you want to route audio from your TV to a separate amplifier and speakers, a digital connection is best, such as coaxial or optical S/PDIF. Analogue audio outputs such as phono or a headphone jack will give you only stereo - not surround sound.

Smart functions - This is a big part of modern TVs, and includes access to internet video, maybe even a web browser. Don't get carried away by gimmicks such as Facebook and Twitter integration, instead look at which video services are available. You'll usually find BBC iPlayer and YouTube, but there's rarely the full set of UK catch-up channels on offer. For that, you might want to invest in a YouView box (see BT and TalkTalk review).

It's also worth having a look at the new range of media streamers which plug directly into your TV. Google's Chromecast and the Roku Streaming stick are essentially Wi-Fi dongles that connect to your TV via an HDMI port and turn it into a Smart TV, and offer a wealth on Internet TV services. Take a look at our Chromecast vs Roku comparison review, to find out more.

3D - Many but not all TVs support 3D. There are two main types: passive and active. They both have their pros and cons. If 3D is a priority, here's an article explaining the difference between passive and active 3D.

Networking - Integral to a smart TV is a network connection. Wi-Fi is more convenient as it's one less cable to run, but less common than a wired Ethernet port.

4K - The vast majority of TVs have a Full HD resolution (don't accept fewer than 1920x1080 pixels), but the newest models have so-called 4K resolution, which offers 4x the detail of Full HD. These are expensive and there isn't much 4K content. It's also risky buying a 4K TV as it's early days and standards aren't yet finalised. You don't want to be stuck with a BetaMax or a HD DVD in a world of VHS and Blu-rays.

The 7 best Smart TV's of 2014:

7. Sony KD-65X9005A

Sony KD-65X9005A
  • Reviewed on: 2 August 13
  • RRP: £5999 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Even without native 4K content to play with, it's difficult not to become a little infatuated by the KD-65X9005A – it really is an outstanding television. Indeed, it may well be the best the brand has ever made. From design to usability, audio to video, it's just a treat to use. If this model is anything to go by, the super-large TV scene is going to become very interesting over the next 18 months. Even if you have no plans to buy right now, track down a 4K audition sooner rather than later. It's always nice to be in at the start of something big.

6. Panasonic TX-L65WT600 4K LCD TV

Panasonic TX-L65WT600 4K LCD TV
  • Reviewed on: 8 November 13
  • RRP: £5499 inc. VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

It may be early days for 4K Ultra HD, with commercial content still at least a year away, but this HDMI 2.0 debutant hints at what we can expect. In the meantime, thanks to the provision of DisplayPort, you can hook up a PC and enjoy the set's ultra hi-res 2160p talents straight away. The WT600 is a landmark display in every sense.

5. LG 42LA690V review

LG 42LA690V review
  • Reviewed on: 5 July 13
  • RRP: £899.99 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 6 out of 10

The LG 42LA690V delivers a serious bang for your buck. With boutique looks and a feature set that wants for naught, it’s decidedly modernistic. Images are dynamic and colour rich, while overall ease of use is high. Our only caveat – and this is the most important feature for any television – is picture performance. Motion resolution is poor, which will be a deal-breaker for anyone that enjoys decent television picture quality.

4. Samsung PS51F8500ST

Samsung PS51F8500ST
  • Reviewed on: 14 October 13
  • RRP: £1,999 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

Overall, we rate the PS51F8500ST as a class act. There are some minor niggles, and the price is certainly high, but its over performance is polished and as a connected proposition this plasma positively shines

3. Panasonic TX-L39E6

Panasonic TX-L39E6
  • Reviewed on: 26 April 13
  • RRP: £699 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

All things considered, the Panasonic TX-L39E6 is a great smart TV for the money. It looks beautiful, delivers sharp, contrasty HD images and boasts an extremely sophisticated user interface and a decent selection of IPTV. We rate it easy to use and (caveats not withstanding) easy to live with.

2. Samsung UE40F6800

Samsung UE40F6800
  • Reviewed on: 28 August 13
  • RRP: £780 32-inch, £1230 46-inch, £1430 50-inch and £1650 55-inch
  • Rating: Rated 8 out of 10

While Samsung's 40-inch UE40F6800 is unlikely to win any design awards, there's no doubting its overall performance. Images are fast and crisp, 3D is detailed and bright, and most significantly, the set features best-in-class internet TV content and has unbeatable multimedia file support. The UE40F6800 may not be particularly cheap, but when it comes to performance it doesn't disappoint.

1. Sony KDL-50W829

Sony KDL-50W829
  • Reviewed on: 12 March 14
  • RRP: £900 inc VAT
  • Rating: Rated 9 out of 10

Overall, the Sony KDL-50W829 can be regarded as something of a star. The interface could be more responsive, although priced at less than a grand, it delivers an uncompromising picture performance, and well-rounded feature spec. Its Smart connected functionality is solid, although it lacks a full complement of catch-up. We particularly like the new One-Flick Discovery search and recommendation bar. In all, the W8 is a superb Full HD flatscreen that won’t break the bank.

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