As Xbox SmartGlass arrives on iOS, we survey the best TV add-ons, and explain why you don’t need to adjust your set.
You might be proud of your feature wall, but it’s not the best thing to happen to your living room lately. That would be smart TV, the catch-all term for bringing web browsing, apps, movie streaming and catch-up TV to the big screen. But do you need a new TV? Not necessarily – these add-ons will drag your old TV kicking and screaming into the modern age.
Sometimes all you need is an app. Okay, you’ll need an Xbox 360 and a smartphone, too. Xbox SmartGlass – which has just added iOS to a roster of platforms that already includes Windows 8, Windows Phone and Android – is that app. Intuitive touchscreen web browsing for the big screen, a live reference second display for gaming, graphically gorgeous (and informative) menus for video and music libraries, and remote control smarts. And it’s only just getting started.
The Good Life it’s free, multi-platform
Breaking Bad Xbox and movie subs not included
We’ve heard it called a walled garden, a closed shop and many less savoury things in our time, and while it’s true that Apple’s neat little box doesn’t play nicely with much outside the iWorld, it’s still one of the simplest ways to get TV shows and films streamed to your telly. If you’re using a modern (Core iX) Mac with up-to-date software, you can mirror anything on your computer’s screen to the TV via AirPlay. A neat trick that makes it a much more valuable proposition.
The Good Life Simple, with a gorgeous interface
Breaking Bad No third-party (eg. iPlayer) support
Sony NSZ-GS7 (with Google TV)
Set-top boxes are ten-a-penny, but not all of them come with Google TV, which lets fly a flurry of punches to the faces of its peers. The big hitters are a Chrome browser and music, movies, apps and games via Google Play. We’re also particularly keen on the remote, which has a QWERTY keyboard on one side and a touchpad on the reverse.
The Good Life Great remote, Google keeps adding more stuff
Breaking Bad Google Play is still playing content catch-up
Sony PlayStation 3
Yes, it’s a games machine first and foremost, but the PS3 has always flown its movie-loving flag, not least with a built-in Blu-ray drive, but also with streaming apps for iView and more. Grab a BD remote and you’ll be surprised how quickly your PS3 becomes as much a part of your TV setup as your gaming setup. It’s a shame the browser’s still not as good as better known rivals.
The Good Life Blu-ray, streaming and games are all top-notch
Breaking Bad Dicky browser, some nav issues with eg. 4oD