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What can you do with an Alexa voice controlled TV?

With the right set-up, you can use Amazon Alexa voice control service to control your TV without a remote or any sort of button pressing. There are a couple of ways you can get this new functionality, both of which rely on you owning an Amazon Echo[1] or Echo Dot[2] smart hub. Some smart TVs have Amazon’s Fire TV software built in, such as a number of the latest Sony Bravia models[3].

They can connect directly to your Echo device via Bluetooth. If you don’t have one (and with some models costing upwards of ?7,500[4] we don’t blame you), you can attach a Fire TV[5] or Fire TV Stick[6] which then connects to the Echo. You then simply cast aside all self-consciousness, utter your commands into the general vicinity of your Echo and watch on in awe as your television is controlled through nothing other than your own spoken instructions.

Of course we’re still some way away from your Star Trek/Minority Report/Iron Man dreams being truly fulfilled, but for now here’s a full list of commands Alexa accepts: Internet TV box reviews[7] – Not a fan of Amazon? See which other streamers top our test

  • “Turn on Fire TV” or “Turn Fire TV off” to power your TV set on or off.
  • All of the basics of video playback, meaning: “Play”, “Pause”, “Previous”, “Next”, “Stop”, “Resume”, “Restart”, “Rewind”, “Fast-forward”, “Go back”, “Next episode”. You can also stick a timeframe on to the end of some of those commands for even more specific playback.
  • “Switch to” or “change to” the device or input you want – for if you want to switch to your games console or Blu-ray player, for example.
  • All the volume controls you could possibly require, including: “Set the volume to [whatever level you require] on Fire TV”, “Turn it down on Fire TV”, “Turn up the volume on Fire TV”, “Mute Fire TV”.
  • Live TV navigation, including: “Go to”, “change to” or “tune to” the TV channel you want, “Open TV guide”, plus playback controls like “Pause” and “Resume”.
  • “Watch Fire TV” to launch and switch over to your Fire TV device, if you’re using one.
  • “Search for [movie or TV show] on Fire TV”.
  • “Find [genre] on Fire TV”.
  • “Show me titles with [actor/actress]”.

If you have a TV with Fire TV functionality built in to it you may need to change some settings to get it working. On your TV navigate to Settings > Alexa > Turn on TV with Alexa.

This is largely the same list of functions that you can perform with an Alexa Voice Remote, the likes of which now comes packaged with the Fire TV Stick or Fire TV streaming box, so if you already have one of those then you needn’t feel like you’re missing out on too much – other than being able to go totally hands-free.

This isn’t the first time we’ve touched upon Alexa appearing outside of Amazon-branded products, either – if you like the sound of an Alexa-compatible thermostat or smartphone then click here[8] to learn more.

References

  1. ^ Echo (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Echo Dot (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Sony Bravia models (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ upwards of ?7,500 (www.richersounds.com)
  5. ^ Fire TV (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Fire TV Stick (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ Internet TV box reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ click here (www.which.co.uk)

Which? tests B&O Beoplay E4 headphones – is it ever worth spending over £200?

Recent Which? headphone testing has featured several models costing upwards of ?200. The B&O Beoplay E4 headphones are the latest pair to fall into this category. The in-ear headphones include active noise cancelling, which blocks outside noise and reduces distractions.

However, at ?230 they’re the second most expensive pair tested this year. The honour of most expensive falls to the ?250 Sennheiser PXC 480 – another noise-cancelling pair. It’s often unclear on paper what allows manufacturers to charge such high prices for certain models.

Here we take a look at some of the ?200-plus models we’ve tested recently to see what might make them worth their price tag. Headphone reviews[1] – see all our headphones, including models that won’t put as big a dent in your finances.

Premium headphones – what’s the difference?

Starting with the obvious, you’ll generally get more features the more you spend. The big features are a wireless Bluetooth connection and active noise cancelling.

Headphones with just one of these features are available for well under ?100, but a pair with both will often be much more. A pair of ?200 headphones might be made of higher-quality components than a cheaper pair. A wireless or noise-cancelling model will require a digital processing chip to communicate via Bluetooth or to perform active noise cancelling, and these don’t come cheap.

A better chip will result in better performance, but details from manufacturers are scant, so it’s hard to know what’s inside. There’s also materials and build quality. As the price goes up, cheaper materials such as plastic and rubber tend to be replaced by more luxurious ones such as metal and leather.

If you go to a shop to get hands on with the headphones you’ll be able to tell which ones feel the most solidly built, but it can be hard to tell whether you’re paying for quality audio or just aesthetics and marketing.

High-end contenders

The vast majority of people spend less than ?100 on their headphones, so manufacturers know they have to persuade people that their high-end models are worth it. They might do this by emphasising the design values of their brand, by adding all the bells and whistles or by coming up with new and unique features that set their headphones apart. We’ve rounded up three of the most expensive headphones to go through our test lab in recent months.

B&O Beoplay E4, ?230

Those familiar with Danish electronics brand B&O will know that making bargain-aisle products has never been one of its chief concerns.

While its reputation for audio quality is strong, it clearly prides itself on its pristine Scandinavian design principles. The Beoplay E4 headphones are rare for an in-ear model because they also include active noise cancelling. Usually in-ear models don’t include this for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they fit inside your ear canal so they block out a lot of external noise already. Secondly, there needs to be space for the noise-cancelling electronics, and the battery adds weight. This pair isn’t wireless, so it doesn’t need a huge battery, but the wired connection does feel a bit behind the times.

To be worth the money, the Beoplay E4s will have to sound fantastic, but you may well wonder with B&O whether the money has gone on the audio boffins in the sound lab, or the espresso-sipping designers at the drawing board. Read our full B&O Beoplay E4 headphones review[2] to find out whether they’ll give you sonic perfection or style over substance.

Sony MDR-XB950N1, ?220

Sony’s strategy to convince people to spend big on these headphones is to pack them full of the features that people want. The MDR-XB950N1 pair sits at the top of Sony’s Extra Bass range.

This range is unashamedly aimed at younger listeners, who expect a more thumping sound than their older counterparts. The MDR-XB950N1s are big and comfortable looking, and this allows them to pack in enough battery to last for 22 hours. Like the Beoplay E4s there’s active noise cancelling, but these have the advantage of a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Read our full Sony MDR-XB950N1 review[3] to find out whether these big headphones could garner a huge score in our expert testing.

Jabra Elite Sport Wireless, ?220

This unusual pair of headphones has an entirely different selling point to the ones above. Instead of offering high design they’re aimed at a particular type of user: people who exercise. The Jabra Elite Sport Wireless headphones are small and light, sitting inside your ear during your workout, and can record your heart rate as you exercise.

They link with your smartphone and can even shout encouragement directly into your ears as you run.

If these headphones can sound great at the same time, they may have done enough to persuade sports fanatics to spend big.

Read our full Jabra Elite Sport Wireless review[4] to find out whether they are ahead of the pack, or left eating dust.

References

  1. ^ Headphone reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ B&O Beoplay E4 headphones review (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Sony MDR-XB950N1 review (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Jabra Elite Sport Wireless review (www.which.co.uk)

Netflix-recommended TVs rated in Which? expert tests

Netflix has revealed which TVs it recommends for the best viewing experience, but our test results show that some don’t belong. Making up the list are some of the latest releases from LG, Samsung and Sony, all of which are big-name brands that we’re regularly putting to the test in our lab. Below, we run through some key features of the recommended models.

Best Buy televisions[1] – pin-sharp picture and superb sound

Which TVs does Netflix recommend?

Pretty much every smart TV works with Netflix, and by opting for one of the models suggested, you could end up paying over the odds if all you’re after is a budget TV that can run the app. Some of the most expensive models mentioned will set you back over ?2,000. So, what did the TVs need to do to make it onto the list?

Each model supports TV Instant On, where apps load up right away even if you’ve just turned the TV on. They also have a remote with a dedicated Netflix button, along with easy access to the app from the main menu. For more on TV apps and services, see our What is smart TV?[2] guide.

Do our lab tests agree?

After comparing our own test scores (above) with Netflix’s list of recommended TVs, we found that 11 (39%) of the models mentioned aren’t good enough for Best Buy status.

The average test score of the TVs making up the list is around 70%, but you can do even better with the help of our expert reviews. That means you’ll spot TVs that have access to the latest smart-TV features, and offer great picture quality and stunning sound to match. At the far right of our table is a Netflix-recommended TV that scored just 56% earlier in the year.

We labelled it a ‘big disappointment’ in our full review after dealing with poor sound and a fiddly set-up process. Keep scrolling for a closer look at some of the TVs Netflix recommends.

Samsung – 2017 4K UHD and QLED TVs

From the brand’s popular 7-series is the Samsung UE49KS7000 (below). It has a 49-inch display, a Freeview HD tuner and a Freesat-licenced satellite HD tuner.

It comes pre-installed with smart-TV features, so once it’s paired to a wi-fi network you can use popular TV apps like BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Assuming you’ve plugged in a USB storage device, you can use this TV to pause and record live TV.

Does this TV deserve a spot in your living room? To see what our experts thought of this TV, head over to our Samsung UE49KS7000 review[3]. Part of Samsung’s 9 Series, the UE55KS9000 could be on your radar if you’re looking for a larger TV to fill your home.

It has a 55-inch curved screen and also supports 4K and 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range) content. That means it can play the latest Netflix originals like House of Cards and Narcos in the highest-possible quality. To see if this TV is worth its ?900 price tag, you’ll have to read our Samsung UE55KS9000 review[4].

Sony – 2017 Sony Android TVs

If you’ve got the money to spend, Netflix says the Sony KD55XE9005BU (below) is worth considering.

It’s a 55-inch Sony 4K ultra-HD TV that runs on the Android smart-TV platform. That means plenty of smart-TV apps come pre-installed, and there’s also a Freeview HD tuner tucked inside. Those features come at a hefty price, though, with this model currently on offer for around ?1,300.

For more on this TV, see our Sony KD55XE9005BU review[5]. Looking for something smaller?

The Sony KD43XE8004BU is around ?450 cheaper at ?850. It has a 43-inch display and supports HDR content, so the screen serves up brighter whites and darker shadows for a more detailed picture. Popular streaming apps including BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub can be found within the YouView menu, and you can record live TV by plugging in a USB device.

Four HDMI ports on the back of the TV mean you’ll have no trouble plugging in games consoles, streaming sticks and set-top boxes. See how this TV performed in our test lab with our Sony KD43XE8004BU review[6].

LG – 2017 4K UHD TVs

At less than ?600, the 49-inch LG 49UJ630V (below) manages to offer a 4K Ultra-HD screen for a reasonable price. It runs on LG’s own webOS smart-TV platform, which comes with Freeview Play built in.

If you’ve got a wireless Bluetooth sound bar, you can give the audio a boost and connect that wirelessly. To see if our experts recommend this TV for Netflix binging, see our LG 49UJ630V review[7].

For more on the latest TVs to pass through our test lab, head over to our TV reviews[8] page.

There, we put TVs from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and Philips through their paces.

Our guide to the top 5 TVs for 2017[9] uncovers the highest-scoring models of the year, and buyers on a budget should head over to our guide to the best cheap TVs[10] on the market.

References

  1. ^ Best Buy televisions (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ What is smart TV? (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Samsung UE49KS7000 review (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Samsung UE55KS9000 review (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Sony KD55XE9005BU review (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Sony KD43XE8004BU review (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ LG 49UJ630V review (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ TV reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ top 5 TVs for 2017 (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ the best cheap TVs (www.which.co.uk)

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