Some of the latest HD TVs can display picture in 3D. To watch in 3D you’ll also need a pair of 3D glasses and some 3D content. Sky and Virgin launched 3D services in 2010 that work with their current HD boxes and the latest 3D Blu-ray players can playback 3D Blu-ray movies.
3D isn’t new, but much of the technology behind the latest incarnation is. Two cameras are used to record slightly different perspectives of the same image, which are displayed on screen as a double image. Polarising or active shutter glasses filter a different image to each eye, creating the illusion of extra depth.
Internet and Smart TVs
Many new TVs can connect to the internet. Most provide access to a collection of apps, such as iPlayer and YouTube, and depending on the manufacturer access to an app store to download more. The very latest models go beyond just apps and let you surf the web. A few models have wireless internet access built-in, but most TVs need an additional dongle. They’re sold separately and usually cost around £50. TVs that bundle up apps, web surfing and access to your PC home network into one interface are commonly called Smart TVs.
Ambient light sensor
Many new TVs feature power saving ambient light sensors. If selected, the sensor will automatically adjust the brightness of the TV’s backlight, according to how dark or light the room is. In dim conditions, the most efficient sensors dramatically reduce power consumption, slashing a typical 80 Watt reading for a 40-inch TV screen in half. Plasma TVs do not feature backlights but can still have ambient light sensors. The sensor automatically adjusts the brightness of each gas cell that makes up a plasma display.
USB ports are useful for connecting memory sticks or digital equipment to view photos on the big screen (picture quality is typically excellent). You can also playback music and digital video files, depending on the make and model of TV. Some USB ports can be connected to hard drives or memory sticks, allowing you to record or pause live TV, in the same way as a PVR.