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Talk to me about those Computer-TV-Thingy-me-bobs

(11 Posts)
tricot39 Wed 22-Aug-12 13:33:43


We bought a Sony Vaio L Series TV Computer 4 years ago - like this

It is our main TV. It hasn't worked out well in many ways - ie its actually a computer more than a TV so you have to leave it on practically all the time, guests are totally bemused by the controls, the DVD never worked properly, there is a lot to go wrong in one expensive box.... blah blah blah

BUT being able to stream off the net on to the TV, record TV and dump it onto DIVX for the kids, store photos and music easily etc has been great.

The Vaio is now playing up and we will not be replacing it like for like. We thought we would revert to a "normal" TV, but we now see that you can get "internet" TVs.

Anyone got one? Can you tell me what it is like?
First and foremost are they easy to switch on and off?

Or should we just get a normal TV and add a fancy box etc? If so which box?

There is too much choice and the tech all moves too fast. Help please!

NetworkGuy Wed 22-Aug-12 16:35:45

There are separate boxes (eg Freeview [under 40 quid], or FreeSat [100 to 150] that can offer BBC iPlayer [probably via an ethernet cable to your broadband router, or if that's in a different room, can be done via PowerNet adaptors] however, I don't think any "off the shelf" box will have the same facilities, because presumably you could stream YouTube, and many other sites, without really thinking about it.

The run-of-the-mill TV boxes may have iPlayer but not a lot more. NannyNick has recently got himself a YouView box, but I've only a limited knowledge (from a few online articles) about what they can do, and while some of these boxes offer recording (onto a USB link Hard Drive) few offer facilities to record off TV as DIVX (indeed your Sony sounds interesting to me!!)

iPlayer on most boxes is not the same as on a PC - from what I've seen so far there's a menu of recent material but no A-Z whereas visiting the BBC site you'd have complete choice over what to view. A compromise might be to buy a similar size monitor, and feed it from one of the 'nettop' PCs so you'd have a wi-fi link to connect it to the internet (and with a wireless mouse and keyboard, be able to store it by the TV) plus some sort of recorder to time shift material either on Freeview or FreeSat (unless you went down the Sky subscription route)

As things stand, you can generally get SD or HD signals (standard definition, higher definition - HD best viewed on TV capable of displaying 1920 x 1080 pixels, aka 'Full HD' rather than some called 'HD Ready')

a) Freeview, Freeview+, Freeview HD boxes
some may include iPlayer facility

Freeview anything from 15/20 quid [but most TVs have Freeview built in]

Freeview+ - 250 GB, 320 GB or 500 GB hard drives. Can record and play only on that device (no way to move a recording to play on a PC)

Freeview HD - there's the iCan box (I paid about 30 quid at and got the box and HDMI cable) which has iPlayer facility

b) FreeSat SD, FreeSat HD, FreeSat+ HD

FreeSat SD from 40 quid or so.

FreeSat HD from 65 to 130 or so.
If you have no dish at present, Tesco sell the Manhattan HD for 90 quid with free dish installation

FreeSat HD+ (recorder) from 120 quid (eg Grundig on Ebay) to 200++ for Grundig / Humax
Can view and record with the box, but again, unable to record for play on a PC.

Someone posted recently about using their old Panasonic (I will have to find the thread again) to record on hard drive and write to DVD. It may be possible to record signals on a SCART cable but HDMI is defined so as to be viewable on a TV but not recorded from an input (to limit chances of piracy, since signal is meant to be better than SCART signals)

Sorry if that looks like too many options, but you have the Freeview / FreeSat choice to make first (cover similar channels) then HDMI/SCART connection, and then whether to get a 'normal' 24"/ 26"/ 32" TV with Freeview in, which means you could use the TV to watch a show while recording on either Freeview or FreeSat.

Some TVs now include PVR (personal video recorder) by way of a USB socket, so you add a USB stick (or external powered hard drive for greater capacity) and let the TV record onto that. However I doubt many TVs have 2 tuners, so it would be recording what you were watching (or recording while TV on standby, just taking the incoming Freeview signal and storing to USB port).

Finally for more choice, if you had something like a Sony Playstation (PS3) you could view LoveFilm or Netflix or use iPlayer, and some other 'on demand' services from Channel 4 and so on. Only mention it in passing but there are quite a lot of options now.

Still love the idea of yours, where you could record as DIVX, though !

tricot39 Wed 22-Aug-12 20:32:54


Thanks for the very comprehensive response! thanks
I should say that our Sony doesn't record TV to DIVX.
I record it using Windows Media Player (which is what we watch the TV through) then I take the recorded file and drop it into Windows Movie Maker, trim it and publish as MPEG or maybe WAV? Then I have to upload it to a DIVX convertor. So not straightforward but all on one machine. So if I could record TV on another box (for a fraction of the Sony price) and export it to a PC to do the same conversion I would be quite happy.

So your post got me googling and there have been some massive developments in the last few years. I think an HD/Ready TV plus a Freeview box with extra gizmos will suit us better than an "internet" TV.

So I had at look online at the YouView box which you mentioned but the reviews on John Lewis don't make it look that good. It doesn't sound too user friendly.

Anyway so I think our wish list would include:
Freeview + Dual tuners
Programmable programme guide
Wireless LAN
USB and SD
Skype possible with extra webcam
Possible internet browsing
Shared content music/photos etc

Sounds like a mega list, but I think we can get close.

First option?
Samsung BD E8900 here

Second option?
Panasonic DMR BWT800 here

Third option?
Panasonic DMR BWT720

I am off to google some more!
Any thoughts so far?

tricot39 Wed 22-Aug-12 20:41:58

oops just seen some of the prices, may have to have a rethink!

NetworkGuy Wed 22-Aug-12 20:52:58

While the first option Samsung BD-E8900 suggests what's on it can be played on other devices, there's no mention of that in the description on the Richer Sounds site here so if there's a store near you, I think it would be best to visit and ask... It's definitely not a bad price at RS (and their 5 year warranty at an extra 30 quid worth having too, since you'd want the Blu-Ray to be repaired if it went wrong, and the 1 TB disk to be replaced (wonder if you can backup files from that as it could hold a lot of info and if it died, so would hours of TV).

NetworkGuy Wed 22-Aug-12 20:53:39

Ah.... prices. Yes, meant to ask about budget !!

NetworkGuy Wed 22-Aug-12 21:00:12

Other places selling the middle unit at 550 (but still a lot of cash on top of a TV)

The Samsung seems to offer web browsing, but doubt it would do Skype. Would have thought something other than main 'TV' would be best for that anyway (but I don't use Skype myself, at present anyway).

tricot39 Thu 23-Aug-12 19:07:20

I need to do some more research. Have seen something about skype ready tvs ( bravia) which would mean a cheaper box. Or logitech apparently just released a webcam box to skype enable any tv. Might be sensible to get several bits of kit to work together as the sony was just too much in one box - too risky/expensive if it goes wrong.

The skype thing is a bit of a luxury but with 2 dc and 2 distant dgps it is nice to chat from the sofa. Trying to cram in front of the desktop not quite as easy.

Thanks for your help!

NetworkGuy Fri 24-Aug-12 11:27:44

A nettop can be as small as 7" x 7" x 2" and with a webcam plugged in, would allow for Skype from fhe lounge...

Must have been some other thread buy Ebuyer sllong Acer RL70 Windows 7 system for under 225 quid.

NetworkGuy Fri 24-Aug-12 11:31:20

They also have a 32" Hannspree TV at under 225 quid.

Hannspree | Hanns-G have been making PC screens for ~10 years and TVs only receently

LauraResearch Sat 17-Nov-12 12:04:10

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