Our testers set up all models on test in our specialised TV lab and adjusted their controls to get the best picture quality possible. They keep the lighting in the room low and the sound muted, and three experts watch a variety of footage (from HD broadcast TV, DVD movies, and Blu-ray, as well as some still photos and a computer game) simultaneously on all the screens. They evaluate the picture quality and rate it out of 10 for each input. A special reference test Blu-ray disc and two reference DVDs are used to provide test patterns and movie scenes.
- Testers check how well each TV produces accurate colour, solid blacks and whites without a colour shift.
- They display a number of test patterns from a high-quality Blu-ray/DVD player to measure if any of the picture was cut off at the edges.
- They play movies and other footage to check the screen’s ability to produce images without colour banding, jerkiness, blurring or vibration.
- They also check for colours bleeding in high-contrast or very intensely saturated parts of the image, and that there are no trails behind fast-moving objects on the screen.
Our testers listen to movies and music to check for rattles, hums, hisses or distortion, as well as making a judgment on how well the high and low sounds were produced.
Ease of use
Testers use the remote control, front panel controls and onscreen display to perform a number of common tasks such as channel and volume changing, setting up favourites and re-scanning channels.
They look for logical menus and clear labelling, buttons and controls that are easily identified and can be used without interfering with other controls.
If the star rating on the label is less than 1.5 or more than 6 stars, our testers use a calibrated power supply and power meter to measure the power consumed by the TV when in use and on standby. This is done using 'out-of-the-box' settings as required by the new mandatory power rating standard.
The actual energy used is calculated based on 10 hours' use per day over 365 days. This includes energy used when the TV is on standby during the other 14 hours of the day.
Our testers record to both a USB hard drive and solid state media (USB stick) where appropriate and check to see if the recording is compatible with other TVs of the same brand, or other TVs of a different brand. They assesses how easy it is to set up a recording and manage the recordings once on the media.
Our testers assess the ease of access to the EPG information, its update speed and the ease of setting up a recording where appropriate.
3D vision is assessed and a score recorded.
Our definition of a smart TV is one that has most, if not all, of the following features:
• Capacity to connect you to the internet via either cable, Wi-Fi or both
• Web browser
• Built-in apps to connect you to services like catch-up TV supplied online by the major television networks, Facebook, YouTube, etc
• DLNA functionality to allow you to easily connect to your home network and stream media from a computer
• In-built games, apps and other applications that might be useful (such as weather updates or a world clock)
• Software upgrade via the internet
• Some form of speech or motion control
• A specialised remote or other device to make entering text easier
• Record to and playback from a USB device
• Content access from a smartphone or tablet
• Capacity to identify upcoming programs based on your viewing preferences
The testers assesses how easy it is to find and use any of the above-mentioned features, where they exist. This is reflected in the Smart TV score.
*Scores for DVR, EPG and 3D are recorded, but not used in the overall assessment at this stage.
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