Smart TV is a broad term referring to a TV set that can connect to the internet.
This connection allows the TV to work with a range of online services like live streaming, on-demand video, social media and applications.
Smart TVs come in different formats with varying capabilities. Some can access On-demand TV, instant updates, social media feeds, instant messaging and full web browsers. They are often referred to as “Connected TVs” or “Internet Enabled TVs”.
What can you watch?
Each TV comes with different in-built facilities. Some of the most popular streaming services in the UK are BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITVplayer, Netflix, AmazonPrime, SKY GO/Now TV & BlinkBox. You’ll need to check the individual specifications of a TV to find out what services it comes with as each manufacturer differs.
These services are built into the TV, but often require a separate subscription. This is the case for paid-for services like Netflix or Lovefilm but not for the free UK On-Demand services like iPlayer & 4OD.
Most manufacturers have their own ‘Store’ where individual TV Programmes and Movies can be rented from. This is also the place you would visit to update apps and download new content.
Like a laptop or Tablet, smart TVs need a connection to the Internet in order to stream media. They tend to come with three different types of connection:
Built in WiFi– This is the most simple connection type as the receiver is built into of the TV, just like a modern laptop. All you need to do is find your WiFi router and connect. Your TV will then automatically connect to the router each time you access the smart Media.
WiFi Dongle– This is an external WiFi receiver that plugs into the back of your TV via USB, making the whole set internet enabled. These dongles sometimes come included with the TV, but often need to be bought separately. Make sure your dongle has the right connection type for your TV- different brands and models have various connection compatibilities.
Ethernet Connection– This isa hardwired connection that is physically plugged-in, meaning the internet signal is direct. You can run a cable from your Ethernet port on a modem or use the Powerline Adapters to run the signal around the house. This is often the best solution if your router isn’t great quality or your house has WiFi “Deadspots”.
It’s advisable to have a broadband connection over 2mbps for good streaming quality. 3D and HD quality require a much higher connection, ideally over 10mbps, but the higher the better as this reduces lag.
Can I browse the internet on it?
Yes but it’s not perfect. Some smart TVs do have a built in browser, but it will not be the same quality as your Laptop or PC. A smart TV is not really designed to be a computer so you will probably find website browsing slower and less smooth than a computer.
Smart TVs don’t have the same operating system as a PC so their browsers simply aren’t as powerful…yet. This may change in the coming years as smart TV develops and becomes more integrated with your computer.
Can I make a standard TV smart?
Yes and no. Plugging a WiFi dongle into an old television will not turn it into a smart TV, as it does not possess the operating system required. However you can plug in a separate device like Now TV or a Roku player into the TV. This will connect to the internet, work as the operating system and play your media via the TV.
How do I control the TV?
You can control it like a normal TV via a remote, they just tend to have few more keys on. To make searching a little easier you can also buy external Wireless or Bluetooth keyboard.
How much does it Cost?
Smart TV are becoming a standard on sets over 32”. Prices can start from as low as £200 for an Internet enabled TV.
Additional costs when running a smart TV should be taken into consideration. You may want to sign up for a streaming service account, like Netflix, Hulu or AmazonPrime (Lovefilm). There are also additional connectivity costs involved with some TVs like wireless dongles, ethernet wiring and wireless routers.
What else can they do?
Aside from On-Demand TV, Streaming and Internet browsing, smart TVs can also display news feeds, run apps, link to social networks, play music and make online video calls.
Can you just watch normal TV on it?
Yes absolutely. The smart aspect is only an additional function. It will work as a standard Digital TV if you just want to operate it ‘normally’.