IPTV: What to consider when buying an Internet TV

Eight points to consider before buying an IPTV, from storage, features, the future of content and what's in available

Internet Protocol TV is not only changing the way we watch our favourite programmes it is also bringing apps, games, and news to the living room. If an internet TV is on your wish list, here's eight things you should consider

Fed up with mediocre TV offerings? Want to watch exactly what you want, when you want? Accessed via the internet over Wi-Fi or ethernet, the increasing range of web TV or “IPTV” services available means you can now watch catch-up TV, movies on demand, and unique, often specialised, content whenever you want for free or a small fee.

It’s not just about TV either, with apps for games, news, RSS feeds and social networking your TV quickly becomes more of an entertainment hub, tailored to your needs.

If you're thinking an IPTV like the Samsung UE40D6530 might be for you, here's eight things to think about before upgrading your telly.

1/ Consider your needs
Do you want to stream movies? Watch catch-up TV services or YouTube? Or would you rather stream your own collection of video content? There's no point paying for a service you won't actually use.

2/ Storage, sir?
Some devices include a built-in hard drive, others you can expand using a USB key or SD card - a more convenient, if less elegant, way of sharing content.

3/ Broadband speed
Check your internet connection. We couldn't stream hi-def video over our Wi-Fi connection with Bravia Internet TV, but managed it over ethernet with Apple TV. Don't pay for HD or waste time trying to stream HD if your connection can't handle it.

4/ Wired or not?
Similarly, while many of the devices here support Wi-Fi, you may be better off with the more stable, if less convenient, option of ethernet.

5/ Sound judgement
If audio quality is important to you, check for a digital audio output. This will let you hook it up to a receiver for 5.1 surround sound, Dolby processing etc.

6/ It'll get better
Web connectivity means that devices can be upgraded to improve performance and add features. During our time with the Boxee Box two fi rmware upgrades greatly improved performance.

7/ Check TV settings
You may need to fiddle with the aspect ratio settings on your telly to make sure video isn't stretched or squashed.

8/ Want phone control?
The Apple TV can be controlled from your iPhone; the Boxee Box via iPhone or Android.