It seems as if each day, more and more Audio/Video devices are Internet ready. These devices allow the possibility to stream popular services like Netflix on Demand, VUDU, Amazon Prime, Flickr and Pandora just to name a few. However, in an average home theater installation involving a Flat panel TV, Blu-ray player and AVR, often times there is duplication in these applications. So the question becomes, which device is best suited for these networked applications?
In our opinion, it is always best NOT to use the network applications built into the TV. There has been a tremendous amount of price pressure placed on TVs in the past 5 years, thanks to retailers like Best Buy, Wal-mart and Costco. The manufacturers of these TVs are then faced with giving retailers cheaper wholesale prices so the retailers’ can still make some profit. Since the manufacturers still want to make money, these manufacturers revisit their design processes and cut corners wherever they can.
One of the early places to go for manufacturers seems to be usability. Using the network applications on the TV is a very clunky experience for most major brands. Applications are not organized well, not clearly explained and sometimes don’t even work correctly. There is not much thought put into the remote button sequence needed to use these applications either, leaving the user buried in submenus with no obvious way to get back to where they want to be. And finally, manufactures may provide network applications that may be older versions (and thus cheaper to license) than what exists on other networked devices like Blu-ray players, leaving users with an antiquated experience.
There is also additional wiring necessary to use the Network applications on your TV. Since your TV is now both a display and a networked source, you will need a data drop at the TV location (which most people don’t have as there was never a need for one before) as well as a wire path for the audio from a TV network application to make its way back to your sound system. If you want 5.1 surround sound, additional baluns may be necessary on top of the additional wiring. If you are one of those Home Theater enthusiasts who has you’re Audio/Video gear in a separate room from your TV, this could mean a small remodel just trying to get the proper wires in place.
Our recommendation for enjoying networked applications like Netflix and Pandora is to use Audio/Video gear that is already a video source. Blu-ray players, Roku boxes and Apple TVs are all superior ways to enjoy these networked applications as these devices were designed from the start to be a user friendly experience. There is also little if any additional wiring necessary as often times data drops are already at this location and additional audio paths are made in seconds rather than hours.
Let your TV do what it does best—display the video content coming from your various A/V sources in all their glory.