Gone are the days when TVs were just for binge-watching your favorite movies and shows—it's also a stylish addition to your home decor, especially with the release of the latest models. TVs have come a long way, and they continue to push the boundaries of technology, connectivity, and design.
Now, if you're wondering, “What is a smart TV?” it's essentially a TV with the features of a smartphone. However, with all the options available in the market, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed.
But don't worry – TLC understands your dilemma, and we’re here to help. We’ve got you covered with all the essential tips you need to get the most value out for money.
A smart TV takes the concept of a regular TV to the next level. It has high-tech upgrades such as built-in internet connectivity, either through Wi-Fi or an Ethernet port. This means you can go online and access all sorts of cool features without the need for a cable box. And the best part? The TV's software can automatically update itself to keep you up to date.
One of the standout features of a smart TV is its collection of pre-installed apps like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, and YouTube. You don't need any extra devices like a Chromecast to watch online content.
Aside from its internet capabilities, a smart TV shares similarities to a regular TV in terms of its screen, speakers, and interfaces. But it's the internet connectivity that truly sets it apart and gives you access to a whole new world of entertainment.
While we’ve mentioned internet connectivity, what other features do smart TVs often come with? Let’s find out.
Smart TVs are a more sophisticated version of a regular TV. They come with built-in internet connectivity, allowing users to stream content from popular platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar through Wi-Fi or ethernet cable.
Nowadays, the majority of smart TVs run on the Android operating system, allowing users to effortlessly install applications from the Google Play Store. From the store, you can download games, browse the internet, check emails, and access your favorite social media platforms.
Some, if not all, smart TVs are equipped with voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. This brings a new level of convenience to controlling your TV, as you can now control its settings, change channels, or find content using nothing but your voice.
With the screen mirroring function, smart TVs let you effortlessly connect to your smartphone or tablet and look at images, watch videos, and view other content from your personal devices on a larger screen.
Smart TVs are designed to accommodate a wide range of external devices like USB and HDMI connectors for external devices such as gaming consoles, soundbars, Blu-Ray players, and more. This makes it easy to integrate and enjoy your favorite devices in harmony with your TV.
The most obvious thing that sets these two apart is their ease of use and functionality. Smart TVs excel in their intuitive user interfaces that seamlessly guide users through apps and settings. They also have the added convenience of speech or gesture recognition remote controls for a smoother experience.
As already mentioned, smart TVs have integrated operating systems. Regular TVs, on the other hand, might have a user interface but lack an extensive operating system with no app store accessibility.
Both types of TVs can be connected to the internet either through Wi-Fi or a LAN cable. However, smart TVs usually come with Wi-Fi connectivity, comparable to connecting your phone to a Wi-Fi network. Regular TVs, on the other hand, require a LAN cable for internet access, resulting in limited functionality in comparison.
No doubt, the most significant difference between a regular TV and a smart TV is the content. While regular TVs confine you to fixed channels and predetermined shows, smart TVs give you the opportunity to personalize your viewing experience based on what you enjoy. With a smart TV, you can explore a wide range of options, including the newest shows and movies on Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max, videos and tutorials on YouTube, and even games.
Smart TVs offer a seamless entertainment experience. With the ability to directly download and run popular streaming apps on your TV, such as Netflix, Hulu, Stan, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, Disney+, and more, you can enjoy tons of content right on your TV.
These streaming apps are easily accessible through the Android app store. Android apps have a leg up when it comes to certain functions and available app choices – over 10,000 apps and things like auto updates.
When it comes to upgrading your TV, going for a smart TV will bring many advantages worth considering. Smart TVs provide a superior user experience. They are extremely user-friendly as they can be installed anywhere with a power outlet and a Wi-Fi connection.
On the other hand, regular TVs require a web of cables or streaming boxes, which might be inconvenient if you want to relocate your TV or have multiple TVs in your home. And in certain settings like classrooms or conference rooms, smart TVs can even replace laptops or other devices.
Lastly, pricing shouldn’t be a major concern. Many smart TV companies offer incredibly affordable options, so you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the benefits of this technology.
While traditional TVs struggle to catch up with the newest trends, it's undeniable that smart TVs provide a more personalized streaming experience. Smart TVs give us the freedom to choose the content we want to watch when we want to watch it.
Catering to diverse interests, smart TV app stores boast tons of content, satisfying gamers, news aficionados, eager learners who want to watch tutorials and take courses, social media fanatics, those looking for exercise guidance, and even parents who want to find educational entertainment for their children.
As well, navigating a smart TV is intuitive, even for older generations or those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy, thanks to voice assistant features and smartphone compatibility.
And, of course, doing anything digitally is just better when it's on the "big screen." Whether it’s gaming or watching, you can enjoy a much better image quality.
One thing is sure: smart technology is here to stay. From TVs and phones to cars, smart devices are a big part of our daily lives.
This technological breakthrough has dramatically improved our quality of living in many ways, especially in terms of convenience and functionality.
The introduction of internet-connected apps on smart TVs has transformed how we experience television. Viewers get to enjoy their favorite content like never before, which is one of the many reasons why streaming companies like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ strive to become better and more innovative.
Every year, we’re presented with new options for upgrading to a new smart TV. TV manufacturers continuously seek cost-effective ways to offer larger screens with better image quality and the most up-to-date features.
In the streaming industry, subscription fees have replaced the conventional business strategy of collecting revenue through advertising. Viewers benefit from this in two ways. With on-demand streaming, you can now choose what you want to watch and when you want to watch it. Secondly, commercial breaks no longer intrude on our entertainment.
Before you head to the store, it’s worth having a plan in mind and a clear vision of what you want out of your new TV. Begin by figuring out your budget, and follow our tips below for more advice.
Before even considering purchasing a TV, you’ll want to check if the smart TV is compatible with your home network and internet connection. This is because you'll need stable connectivity to stream content and make the most of the smart TV features.
If you're thinking about getting a bigger screen, remember to check if it’ll fit in your desired location for the best viewing experience. The ideal distance between you and the TV should be about one and a half times the screen size.
Also, keep in mind that larger TVs consume more energy than smaller ones. So, before you go for that big model, take a moment to consider how much extra energy it might use and see if it’s something that works for your overall economic plan.
The screen is the most important part of any smart TV, no doubt about it. In the current market, there are plenty of smart TVs available with different types of display panels, such as LCD, LED, OLED, and QLED.
Since LED and OLED panels offer better quality, LCD TVs have lost some of their popularity. LED screens are currently the most widely used display thanks to their energy efficiency and excellent performance.
OLED screens, although pricier, offer the finest picture quality. QLED is another popular option, which is a new technology that uses quantum dots, a type of semiconductor, to produce vibrant and accurate colored lights. If your budget allows for it, OLED smart TVs are definitely worth considering.
Remember, more pixels equate to better quality. Most TVs nowadays are Full HD, but 4K TVs are becoming increasingly popular. 4K TVs provide four times the resolution of Full HD TVs. But if you want to future-proof your TV experience, you might want to consider an 8K TV, which has four times the pixel count of a 4K TV. Choosing 4K and HDR can be a wise decision, as an increasing amount of content is embracing these features.
HDR videos deliver much more vibrancy compared to regular ones. This means that it can deliver a wide range of colors, a broader spectrum of shades, and brighter, more defined visuals. There are two variations of HDR: HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. HDR 10+ offers a color depth of 10 bits, while Dolby Vision takes it up a notch with 12 bits, delivering an even better visual experience.
Netflix reigns as one of the most popular applications around the world. You can subscribe to this smart TV platform to watch the newest movie releases and shows.
What sets Netflix apart, and what made it so famous in the first place, is its exclusive original content, which gives it an edge over the other streaming platforms, ensuring there’s always something fresh to explore
You can even watch TV and movies offline by downloading them and enjoy a one-month free trial in some countries.
YouTube is a staple app on most smart TVs. It's the biggest video-sharing platform out there, offering a wide range of content spanning movies, music, sports, gaming, and more. Whether you're looking for educational videos, fitness tips, or tutorials, you can find it all on YouTube.
The platform features separate sections for adults and kids, so you can easily safeguard against inappropriate content. Best of all, it's completely free, making it a key addition to your apps.
Available through the PlayStore, Spotify is ideal for those into music. The platform boasts an impressively large collection of music and podcasts.
With Spotify, you can effortlessly search for music by your favorite artists or even specific songs and even create your own personalized playlists.
Enter a world of classic animated films and shows by Disney, including offerings from Pixar and even 20th Century Fox hits like The Simpsons.
Disney Plus, similar to Netflix and Apple TV Plus, offers exclusive content like The Mandalorian and the chance to marathon the Marvel movies in order.
This social media giant doesn't need an introduction. It remains one of the most popular apps worldwide. While it's commonly accessed through mobile phones, tablets, and personal computers, it has now made its way onto the big screen. Users can now enjoy Facebook's features in HD from the cozy confines of their living rooms.
The Facebook app on smart TVs comes with all the standard features you would expect, such as friend requests, status updates, and more. However, it still lacks some of the more advanced features, like creating pages and managing campaigns.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can enjoy a vast range of entertaining content on the Amazon Prime Video app, from movies to documentaries, anime, TV shows, and online-only series. The app also supports 4K Ultra HD, HDR, and HD playback, which ensures you’ll get stunning visuals and great detail.
With TV platforms, looks can be deceiving. Not all TV platforms are created equal and will have different apps and additional features. While most major services are available across all platforms, there may be a few outliers.
Depending on the system, the capabilities of each platform, such as voice assistants and streaming from external devices, may differ. Let's take a look at some of the top smart TV platforms and see what they have to offer.
Roku was one of the pioneers in the world of media streamers, introducing streaming functionality to modern TVs. This move allowed many budget brands to offer access to apps that were previously unavailable on their TVs. One of the major advantages of Roku TV is its user-friendly interface, making it easy to navigate even for those who are less tech-savvy.
When it comes to apps and streaming services, Roku offers an impressive range of options known as Channels. However, it's worth noting that Roku currently does not have a Twitch app, and in the past, it didn’t support YouTube.
In terms of local casting, Roku TV supports both Apple AirPlay and Miracast/WiDi, but it isn’t compatible with Google Chromecast.
Although lacking a voice search feature, Roku TV remains a powerful tool for finding and controlling content on your TV. It does also lack the ability to control smart home devices. However, with the optional Roku Voice Remote Pro, you can at least use it hands-free.
Nowadays, Google TV has mostly replaced Android TV, essentially offering the same system but with a more user-friendly interface. You can easily access Google TV on any TV by purchasing a Chromecast with Google TV.
Both Android TV and Google TV provide all the major streaming services covered, including Crunchyroll and Twitch.
With Google’s support for Chromecast, you can easily stream content from any Android device or Chrome browser tab using both Android TV and Google TV.
In terms of voice assistants, Google Assistant is just as powerful as Alexa. It integrates with various smart home brands, enabling content searches across multiple services. Higher-end TVs from brands like Hisense, Sony, and TCL even feature far-field microphones, allowing for hands-free usage of Google Assistant.
WebOS is the platform that powers LG's smart TVs. While it doesn't have as extensive a library as Fire TV, Google TV, or Roku TV, it does offer all the popular streaming apps you'd expect. Notably, WebOS is home to the Twitch app, unavailable on Samsung, Vizio, or Roku platforms.
For local casting, WebOS supports Apple AirPlay and Miracast/WiDi, just like Roku and Samsung. However, it doesn't support Google Chromecast.
As for voice control, WebOS comes equipped with LG's ThinQ voice assistant, allowing you to control the TV and compatible LG ThinQ appliances. And the good news is, you're not limited to just ThinQ. Depending on your preferences, you can also set up your LG TV to work with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. And if you have a higher-end LG TV, you'll even get far-field microphones for hands-free control.
Samsung has always had its own unique approach when it comes to smart TVs. The current version, known as Samsung Smart TV, runs on the company's Linux-based Tizen OS. It's designed with a strong focus on Samsung's own ecosystem, featuring support for SmartThings (Samsung's smart home platform), compatibility with DeX (Samsung's phone-as-workstation feature for Galaxy phones), and integration with Bixby (Samsung's voice assistant).
When it comes to apps, you'll find all the popular mainstream services available on this platform. However, Crunchyroll and Twitch are not included.
For local casting capabilities, Samsung Smart TV supports Apple AirPlay and Miracast/WiDi, just like Roku TV and WebOS.
In terms of voice assistants, Samsung used to only support Bixby, but you can now use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, just like you can with WebOS.
Now that we’ve explored the ins and outs of a smart TV, you're probably wondering if it's worth buying one. If you're not someone who spends a lot of time in front of the TV, you might not necessarily need one. However, if you enjoy watching the latest TV shows and movies like many of us do, then investing in a smart TV is definitely something that you want to consider.
The truth is, old-fashioned TVs are slowly becoming outdated and waning in popularity. Sooner or later, if your current TV breaks down or needs repairs, you'll find it difficult to find support or spare parts for it, given that smart TVs are dominating the market now. In terms of price, there isn't much of a significant difference either, so it's wiser to invest in something that will be beneficial in the long run.
While regular TVs rely on antennas or coax cables for channel reception, a smart TV can be thought of as a larger version of your smartphone.
Smart TVs connect to the internet either through a wired or wireless connection, granting you access to a range of content, including movies, TV shows, music, games, social media, etc.
These platforms offer certain content for free, although it's common for free videos to include advertisements or commercials at various intervals.
This helps content providers gain revenue while keeping the content available for free. However, some platforms offer membership options that provide ad-free content for an additional fee. If you want to access streaming services like Netflix or Hulu Plus, you'll need to pay a subscription fee.
When it comes to the downsides, things depend on the smart TV's brand and model. The main issue is that, with the exception of Roku TVs and Amazon Fire Edition TVs, there aren't as many apps available compared to external media streaming sticks or boxes.
Another aspect to consider is privacy. Certain TV models have cameras and/or microphones, which allow the device to potentially gather information about its users. However, the scope of data collection depends on how you use your TV and your chosen settings. So, a connected TV can solely monitor and track the viewing habits of the family using it, and the traceability is restricted to the IP address of that location.
Unless you willingly provide the device with data related to your identity, most TV operating systems don't ask for that kind of information.
However, it's important to note that certain apps like Netflix and Amazon may require your personal data for billing purposes. But this is the same as owning a smartphone or PC regarding data requirements.
A smart TV is essentially a more advanced version of a standard TV, with features like internet access and Wi-Fi connectivity. While most modern TVs offer high-definition or 3D picture quality, not all are smart TVs. What sets them apart is the internet connectivity and the more advanced and user-friendly operating system that comes with additional applications and services offered by the smart TVs.
This means you can use it to access social media platforms such as Facebook and access your favorite movies and shows on demand. Thanks to their compact, more powerful CPUs, smart TVs have come a long way and are now very affordable. With online browsing and internet connectivity capabilities, they're pretty close to becoming similar to PCs.
Wondering if your TV is a smart TV? If it comes with pre-installed apps like Netflix, Pandora, and Amazon Prime Video, and it connects to Wi-Fi for streaming and other purposes, you have a smart TV.
If it doesn't have apps and the ability to connect to Wi-Fi for streaming services, internet browsing, and so on, it's not a smart TV.
Even if it's a traditional TV with no built-in Wi-Fi or apps, you can often connect it to a separate smart device, such as a Roku set-top box, Roku stick, FireTV stick, or Chromecast, to take advantage of smart functionality options like internet-connected apps, streaming video/music apps, and internet access.
In most cases, you'll need an HDMI port on your TV and possibly a USB port to provide power to the device if it doesn’t have its own power source.