Home entertainment: The best in TV apps


Our tech guy Colin Moors offers idea for giving your home entertainment media the audience they deserve.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to a friend’s house and they have some top-end hi-fi kit, I just simply have to know every component and how it all hangs together. I don’t even care if they only ever play Coldplay, I need to know how and where the sound comes out and where the pictures come from. If you’re anything like me, you may enjoy the rest of this article. If not, you’ll at least get some ideas for giving your media the audience they deserve. When it comes to budget, the sky’s the limit, but I’m going to keep it sensible so we can all have nice things. I’ll also assume that you have a router to provide Wi-Fi and other connections because, well, it’s the 21st century after all.

The first thing to get hold of if you don’t already have one, is a good TV. By good, I mean something that is labelled “Smart TV”. A Smart TV will bring all the time-wasting distractions of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like to your living room TV. Not only that, but a TV-friendly browser will search YouTube, meaning you never have to miss a Russian car crash compilation again. The majority also have built-in apps that connect to the catch-up TV sites for local broadcasters – obviously you need to be in the correct area geographically (or read on for information on how to bypass this restriction a little later).

These days, more and more manufacturers are building in App Stores into their TVs, meaning if you have an account, you can open up a whole new world of viewing and potentially a whole new world of having less cash than you once did. Of course, you could always add yet more movies and series to your arsenal via streaming media services like Amazon Prime or Netflix, but I’ll leave those for another overview.

To complement your new range of telly output, how about the ability to view things on your screen directly from your phone, tablet or desktop Chrome browser? Chromecast, the cheap and extremely cheerful device from those fun-loving tax-dodgers at Google, is pretty much all you’re going to need. Plug it into a USB port on your telly (if it’s a Smart TV, there will be at least one) and within a minute or two, after a very short and painless setup, you’ll be able to view streaming web content (that is to say, anything you can see in a browser), play movie files or even create an instant slideshow of your photo albums, bringing a whole new dimension to boring your friends.