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2014 Smart TVs Explained, Comparison and Reviews

Updated Jun 30, 2014 By Cedric Demers

Nowadays, nearly every TV is considered Smart. Not all Smart TVs in 2014 are created equal though, some are really bad. Which is why we are reviewing and comparing the best smart TVs of 2014 in this article.

Keep in mind that these features are usually added as an afterthought. On most TVs, the applications are slow and buggy. You usually have a better user experience with a dedicated device like an Apple TV or a Roku.

What is a Smart TV?
A Smart TV enables you to use apps and browse the internet directly on your television. It is worth it if you do not have already an external device to do that and want to use apps on your TV.

Do I need a Smart TV?

Even though you might not need a smart TV, the vast majority of TVs released in 2014 are smart anyway. Only some entry level TVs are still dumb. Therefore, if you want a good picture quality, you will end up with a smart TV anyway.

That said, not everyone needs a smart television; some only need a television to display the picture. You should consider getting a smart TV if:

  • You want to watch Netflix, browse the web, see YouTube videos, check the weather, etc. all on your television
  • And you don't have already a device that could do the above if you plug it in your TV:
    • Video console (Xbox, PS3, Wii, Xbox One, PS4)
    • HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer)
    • Entertainment device (Roku box, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc.)
Don't forget that some tasks like browsing the web on a TV isn't as user friendly as on a computer. Typing large amount of text or frequently clicking is awkward with a TV remote (even the special ones).

A Smart TV is really just incorporating existing things you can do with your television directly inside it, instead of using a third party device.

LG Smart TV 2014 (WebOS)

Overall
9.0
Remote
9.0
Design
10
Usability
10
Web Browser
8.0
Extra Features
6.0
Smart TV Our Score
LG LB5800 7.2/10 not WebOS
LG LB6300 7.5/10
LG LB7100
LG LB7200

LG did a complete redesign in 2014 of their smart TV platform after buying WebOS. It has now the prettiest interface of all brands. It is very easy to navigate between apps and the special remote is very useful.

Unfortunately, the web browser is a bit slow and the apps/features are somewhat limited. But if you don't have complex needs, this is the best interface that you can get your hands on.

See our full review of LG's 2014 Smart TV platform

Samsung Smart TV 2014

Overall
9.0
Remote
10
Design
9.0
Usability
9.0
Web Browser
9.0
Extra Features
9.0
Smart TV Our Score
Samsung H5500 basic remote
Samsung H6350 8.3/10 basic remote
Samsung H6400 8.3/10
Samsung H7150 8.4/10
Samsung H8000 8.2/10
Samsung HU8550 8.1/10
Samsung HU9000

Samsung has been leading the pack in recent years in term of functionality of their Smart TVs. The interface has been simplified in 2014 but it still has the largest selection of apps. Like most TVs, the browser is a bit slow when loading heavy website, but it is fine for most of them.

Samsung TVs also come with the best remote (although not the cheaper H5500 and H6350). It can be used as a pointer to control the cursor, as a microphone for voice commands and even has motion detection.

Most of the features are gadgets that you will only use one time to impress your friends, but it also covers the basic very well.

See our full review of Samsung's 2014 Smart TV platform

Sony Smart TV 2014

Overall
7.0
Remote
7.0
Design
8.0
Usability
8.0
Web Browser
8.0
Extra Features
5.0
Smart TV Our Score
Sony W600B 8.1/10 basic remote
Sony W800B 8.3/10 basic remote
Sony W850B 8.4/10 basic remote
Sony W950B 8.1/10 web cam
Sony X850B
Sony X900B
Sony X950B

Sony's smart TV platform isn't as good as Samsung or LG. The app selection is more limited, the menus are laggy and have a long load time. The fancy remote (available only on the W950B and up) isn't as good as LG and Samsung, it is basically just a touchpad.

There is a major bug though. If you have a lot of files on your USB drive (even in sub directories), it will take forever to load them. Our USB drive had about 10,000 under a sub folder and it took 25 minutes for a movie file placed in root to show up.

That said, if you only plan on using Netflix or Amazon Video, it works.

See our full review of Sony's 2014 Smart TV platform

Toshiba Smart TV 2014

Overall
4.0
Remote
5.0
Design
5.0
Usability
8.0
Web Browser
0.0
Extra Features
0.0
Smart TV Our Score
Toshiba L3400U 7.7/10
Toshiba L5400U
Toshiba L7400U
Toshiba Smart TV 2014

Toshiba has the worst platform of all of them. No app store, no web browser. You can only play USB files, use Netflix or YouTube.

Which apps are on a Smart TV?

Not all televisions brands have the same applications and functionalities; it varies a lot. Some brands like LG have a full third party app store where you can even buy games from independent developers. Others come with only a limited set of official apps. You do not necessary need a lot of applications, but make sure the ones that you are planning to use (like Netflix) are there.

Apps
LG LG Apps (currently 610 apps, full list here)
Panasonic Viera Connect Apps (currently 76 apps, full list here)
Samsung Samsung Apps (currently 876 apps, full list here)
Sharp Limited set with no app store
Sony Limited set with third party Yahoo Connect TV Apps (currently 207 apps, full list here)
Toshiba Limited set with no app store
Vizio Limited set with third party Yahoo Connect TV Apps (currently 207 apps, full list here)

Here is a table comparing the main apps across all smart TV platforms, Xbox, PS3 and Roku. This is not the full list thought, if you want an app not listed here go checkout the official list as linked above.

As you can see in the table, a Samsung Smart TV has a lot more apps than a Roku box, a PS3 or a Xbox. However, you might not actually need those additional apps, so if you already have a Roku box, you might not need a Smart TV.

Table Last Updated: 11/30/2012. If you see any error, email us at errors@rtings.com.

Is a Smart TV better than a standalone box?

Standalone boxes offer a few advantages compared to a smart television. For example, you can play games on an Xbox or PS3 console. A smart TV will always be behind standalone boxes in term of features; especially compared to a HTPC (home theater personal computer) because they are less flexible (you cannot install anything that you want on it). An independent device will always be better than an all-in-one, but depending on your need it might be overkill. A smart television is more than enough if you only want to watch Netflix movies.

The inconvenient of a standalone box is the added cost of the device as well as shelf space, which can be restricted if you are planning to install the television on your wall.

Conclusion

Smart TVs contains a lot of features and apps. If you do not already have a device connected to your TV which does this, you will appreciate having a Smart TV. Keep in mind that the software is still young, so some apps are buggy and not user friendly.

The best affordable Smart TV that we tested in 2014 is the Samsung H6350 LED TV. To figure out the best TV for your need, check out our TV buying tool.