The Olympics and Euros are taking place this year (although as we know in 2021 anything can happen!) without as many spectators, so how can you enjoy these events at home? Do you need to upgrade your tech? Here are the top four gadgets (that aren’t drinks and snacks) you need to enjoy sport from your living room.
1. 4K TV
If you’re buying a new TV to watch your favourite sporting moments, there are a few things to consider.
First up is resolution. Most of us are familiar with Full HD (1080p) but for the true viewing experience you should opt for 4K (also known as Ultra-high definition) which, as the name suggests, has four times as many pixels. This gives you incredible detail, particularly on larger screens, and prices have come down significantly so be on the look for a bargain!
Another lesser-known feature is HDR which stands for High Dynamic Range. Many tech enthusiasts believe HDR is more important than 4K. Without getting too technical, HDR provides more accurate colours from deeper blacks to brighter whites.
It’s important to remember that even if your TV supports 4K and HDR, standard TV is typically only broadband in full HD. To take advantage of these features, you’ll need an ultra-HD Blu-ray player or access to streaming servicers (such as Disney+) which provides 4K content. The BBC has also been trialling 4K sporting events through its iPlayer platform.
Another thing to consider is the choice between QLED, OLED and LCD. Not sure what to go for? Take a look at this helpful explainer.
Arguably the second most important thing after a good quality picture is how it sounds. Most TVs come with average speakers but, as TVs become slimmer, there’s less room to include a decent in-built sound system. So, if you want more of a surround sound experience to hear the cheers from the crowd when England wins the Euros (we can dream…) then there a couple of options to upgrade your viewing.
The first is true surround sound. The standard version is 5:1 which incorporates three front speakers (left, centre and right) and two rear left and right speakers as well as a subwoofer. You can also get 7:1 which adds to extra speakers. Whilst this is ‘real’ surround sound, this multiple speaker setup typically means cables draped all over the place which can be off putting.
Alternatively, you can opt for a sound bar. This is a single device which sits underneath your TV. Whilst one speaker can’t provide true surround sound, modern sound bars bounce the sound off the walls to recreate the experience.
There are some big players dominating the sound system market like Sennheiser, Sonos, Samsung, Song, and LG but this guide (Best Soundbars for 2021) is helpful in helping you make the right decision.
Virtual reality is a bit of a novelty but nevertheless it’s becoming more of a reality as the technology grows and develops each year.
In 2018 the BBC trialled a VR app for the World Cup taking place in Russia. You could watch all 33 world cup games via the BBC Sport VR 2018 FIFA World Cup app. This meant viewers could fully immerse themselves in the action and feel as though they were in a private box at the stadium.
It’s hard to say whether the trial was a success because not many people have access to VR. However, there’s no denying itis very immersive and it is becoming more accessible and affordable so in the coming years VR could become more popular. For now, it’s a luxury option for those who want an immersive experience.
4. Full-fibre broadband
If you’re streaming your sporting events then it goes without saying that you need high quality, fast, reliable broadband so that you don’t have to put up with buffering which can ruin the experience.
That’s why we’re changing the way broadband is delivered across the East of England. The existing broadband infrastructure most of us rely on is called Superfast broadband, also known as Fibre-To-The-Cabinet. The problem is these networks contain Victorian copper cables which are not designed to deliver a broadband speed. Your connection may be just about ok for now but, over the coming months, Superfast won’t provide the speeds we all need, and the network can’t be upgraded. That means more buffering and more downtime.
The only solution to accommodate our data hungry devices is to build new full-fibre networks, free of copper, which can deliver 18 times faster speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Connectivity is also far more reliable and you’re therefore less likely to see dropouts during peak times.
That’s why we’re accelerating the rollout of our full-fibre (we call it REAL FIBRE) networks. But building them takes time (up to 18 months) so we need to start now because otherwise it will be too late.
The good news is we’re well underway with our rollout across the East of England. Click here to find out if we’re coming to your village and see how you can help digitally future-proof your community.