How smart TV can make life better in 2014

Catch up with shows you missed last year, watch the World Cup games at a time that suits you, and stay in touch with friends with a smart TV

Smart TVs are televisions that connect to the internet and we reckon in 2014 they can make life that little bit better by giving you control over what you watch and when.

A smart TV can help you fulfil that New Year resolution to finally watch Breaking Bad, give you an alternative to letting the kids stay up to watch the football and help you stay in touch with family living away from home.  

LG's New Web OS Smart TV Platform

LG's new Web OS Smart TV platform at CES 2014 in Las Vegas

When smart TVs first launched, no-one really knew what to do with them. Many of you quite rightly said: 'Why do I want my TV to go on the web?'

And you were right - there wasn't that much point - it was a bit faddish, naff even.

But since then the way we watch TV has changed, with streaming services like Netflix and the BBC iPlayer allowing us to watch what we want, when we want.

So suddenly, having a TV which connects to the web is pretty damn useful - a study from YouGov even found one in two people now like the idea of watching online content through their televisions.

To this end we thought we'd jot down the three coolest features of smart TVs such as the Samsung F6670, and the LG LA660, both of which we handed a hallowed Our Experts Love tag.

They have Netflix built-in, so you can catch up on those shows you missed

Netflix Logo

We've all been told by a hipper friend that we simply HAVE to watch Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black. Back in the day when someone advised us to watch a show we'd missed we'd make a feeble note to buy the box set, knowing we never would.

But now we have Netflix, which lets us catch-up on such series whenever we want. And an app for it is built into your smart TV.

Sure, you can also use it from your tablet, but do you really fancy a marathon viewing session of the eight-season Breaking Bad craning your neck and squinting at a 7-inch screen on your lap?

No, the premium Netflix experience comes with a smart TV.

You can watch programmes when it suits you

We have grown up living by the rules of the TV schedule. If you wanted to watch a programme or a sporting event then you generally had to be around when it was shown. 

But with a smart TV you can watch your favourite programmes whenever you want - be it your favourite soaps, the round-up of Saturday's football or the final part of that gripping drama you missed (even though you promised yourself you wouldn't).

Why? Because smart TVs come with built in apps for the BBC iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player - as well as BBC Sport and BBC News. 

So whether it's the soaps, the football or your favourite drama - you can watch it when you, rather than the TV schedules, want to. 

Stay in touch with the family through Skype

Skype From Sofa

Streaming TV shows, sports and films is the main benefit of internet-connected smart TVs, but there's another feature we really love (and it's not the ability to Facebook from the TV - that's just weird).

Over the past decade Skype has revolutionised how we stay in touch with loved ones, allowing us to call people on our laptops, smartphones and tablets anywhere in the world for free.

But to get the best from its video-calling features you need a pretty big screen - and now you can have one with Skype for smart TV.

The Skype app is built into your smart TV, so if you have relatives living abroad or a daughter at uni, the whole family can get comfy on the sofa and have a catch-up.

Skype on a laptop or tablet is fine for one-to-one chats, but for group calling it's not so great - everyone crowding round the laptop jostling for a look-in. This is where the smart TV comes into its own - with a screen big enough for everyone to get a piece of the action.

All you need is a smart TV with an in-built camera - or a separate camera - an internet connection and a Skype account.

If you're already hooked up to Smart, tell us what your favourite app is in the comments below...