The future of TV: water, lasers and voice control

Note that while TVs continue to load on Freeview HD tuners, those with built-in YouView are conspicuous by their absence.

Can I use my iPad as a second screen?

The future of TV

It's not lost on TV makers that many of us can't keep our hands off our smartphone and/or tablet while we watch TV. If used with one of its twin tuner TVs, Panasonic's latest iOS and Android app enables you to watch one channel on the TV, and the other on a tablet or smartphone.

Sony has a new app called SideView that knows what you're watching and enables you to browse the EPG and find out more information on cast, crew and related content while the show goes on. Other brands, such as Philips and LG, are using a feature called Wi-Fi Miracast that - you guessed it - mirrors on a TV what's playing on a tablet or smartphone.

Does my TV have NFC?

The future of TV

Forget pairing codes, Wi-Fi passwords and cables - we're about to link gadgets just by touching them together using NFC. A kind of low-power Bluetooth that's already in many Android smartphones and is destined to change the way we travel and pay for things when out and about, NFC is also starting to enter our homes - and it's first port of call is on TVs and audio systems.

Buy one of LG's new Cinema 3D Smart TVs and you'll be able to pair your Android smartphone or tablet with it using 'NFC SmartShare' just by touching it on the TV's corner (as well as with its fridges, washing machines and robot vacuum cleaners), while Samsung has put NFC in its new DA-F60 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker to make pairing with a smartphone or tablet just a tap away.

NFC isn't much good for streaming loads of data - the actual wireless streaming of music is done over Wi-Fi - but it's perfect for making the initial link. Expect the next generation of Wi-Fi routers to have NFC, too; asking your friends for their Wi-Fi password will never be a problem again.

Can I copy files from a TV to a tablet?

The future of TV

This year sees another step-on from common DLNA and UPnP-based networking features on smart TVs with the birth of a new joined-up way of getting digital files - such as photos, videos and music - from your PC, tablet or smartphone to a TV.

Everyone's at it, with Panasonic's Swipe 'n' Share feature on its new smart TVs for 2013 promising two-way file-sharing. As well as being able to push a video file from an iPad to a Panasonic TV (most brands now allow this through the latest incarnations of their iOS and Android Remote Control apps), anything stored on a USB flash drive in the TV's side can be physically fetched by an iPad and copied.

Whether that extends to recordings made to a USB stick from the TV's built-in Freeview HD tuner isn't yet clear, but it's a sign that tablet owners are at last starting to get some serious attention.

Should I buy a Laser TV?

The future of TV

Using laser light to create a brighter image in daylight is what LG's HECTO Laser TV does, though whether it's an important advance in TV tech or merely a side-step is debatable.

It uses a 100-inch screen that's no thicker than a few credit cards, but in reality this is an ultra short-throw projector, not a TV; the main HECTO unit is basically a small black box that sits just 56cm from the wall. It's mightily impressive close-up - especially since it has smart TV apps, a TV tuner, LG's Magic Remote pointer, and a beefy soundbar underneath - but the images do look a touch soft.

Perhaps LG needs to push its Laser TV beyond Full HD to Ultra HD resolution before HECTO can be a big player in home cinema, but the benefits are obvious; all home cinema kit can be stored at the front of the room instead of at the back under the projector, as is normal for televisions. We're thinking trendy boardrooms and the yachts of oil barons as suitable homes for the US$10,000-priced HECTO.