What is a Smart TV
First, let’s break down what Smart TV is and what makes a TV “smart” at all. Well, you all understand what the word smart is. Smart means clever and intelligent. And when we apply this parameter to a TV, it means that we are giving it some kind of smart function.
What are the Signs of a Smart TV?
First of all, it knows how to connect to the Internet, to somehow give you somewhere extra benefit, it just has to be connected to the Internet.
Therefore, it either has an RJ-45 connector for a local network to connect the cable, or TVs are often connected via a home Wi-Fi network.
The Smart TV always has some kind of media player.
Let’s say you’ve downloaded some video, some movie, no matter where. If you transfer it from your computer to a flash drive, insert it in the TV, run a special application on the TV — a player or whatever it’s called, and directly select this file, turn it on and it works, plays with sound, and so on.
These are all kinds of apps like the ones you have on your phone or tablet, or computer, that can give you certain functions. For example, it’s streaming, it’s watching TV channels of some kind.
Anything, even shopping is there now. You can just put a separate app for some company, and it will show you its products there. All of this is already available on the smart TV.
Modern smart TVs already know how to listen to you, and they have voice search and various voice assistants. You can press the button to dictate something on the remote control and the TV will understand you and follow your command.
Several TVs come with a webcam or it’s built right into the screen. You can make there your online calls and participate in training, at some conferences. That is, it will work with built-in Skype, zoom, teleconference, whatever.
Video Streaming to Your TV
One of the most common features that give your TV a smart ability is the ability to play content from your mobile device, whether it’s an iPhone, Android, tablet, or just a personal computer on Windows OS, MacOS, and any other operating system. It’s streaming video of what you have on your phone to your big TV screen.
You’ve probably heard of technologies like AirPlay, Miracast, and Chromecast. That’s what makes it so convenient to send your favorite pictures, music, and videos directly to the television.
Well, a smart TV, just has to update itself over the network over the Internet.
All of the things we’ve listed above, all of these smart things on your screen, are done by the regular operating system on your TV. It sometimes flies through an update, and it automatically over the air via Wi-Fi knows how to update, adding new functionality to your set of smart apps and smart features on your TV.
These are the main signs that your TV is smart.
If you summarize all of these functions and just think logically and physically about what has changed in the television after it became smart it has a media player with an operating system in which you can install certain applications.
And this media player has these or those inputs or outputs, they’re just on the side or the back of the television, but they built in a whole separate device, and it just gave it these smart functions.
Are There Useless Features?
It’s like a phone, someone needs these apps, someone needs other apps, someone uses this, someone uses that. Here we are just given features, and those features are catching up more and more with just the features of our smartphones.
Is it Almost as Good as a Computer?
Well, you can connect a keyboard and mouse to it, and you can surf the Internet. If that’s all you need from a computer, the TV will do. But if you want to create some complex content, the computer has no competitors so far.
The Most Popular use of Smart TV
So, what can you do with Smart TV? How do you use it most often?
First of all, and most obvious of all, it’s very convenient and easy to watch YouTube on a smart TV.
There’s a YouTube app right there that’s listed on every TV. You open it and get a great user-friendly interface to play your favorite videos, search, see your subscriptions, turn on any video, rewind it, select the quality, whatever, you can do it right from the remote control.
You can do the same thing on your phone or tablet, and then press the streaming button on your TV. You can subscribe to your favorite channel. It’s easy to do. You press two buttons. And now you are subscribed to a channel.
You can use the search, you can do a voice search with the remote.
What else do you need to be happy about when you’re actually getting the main video content from YouTube?
The next most common use case is probably streaming video of all kinds. Take Apple TV or Netflix, for example. Here’s everything available in general, and on your phone, it’s usually available on your smart TV. No problem taking it, putting the streaming you want in the app store, and running it.
The app can automatically update. You’re the one who controls that process, too. If you want them not to automatically update, well, they won’t. You’ll have to go in manually to update it. But, this can all also happen automatically over the air, like magic, and you’ll always get the latest version of the app with all the functionality, with all the content.
Here’s an example of running Apple, I don’t even need to buy an external Apple TV, I’ve already saved. Because here all the streaming from Apple is as much as possible in the same quality that it’s available through the box, available and right here in the app on the TV, just in its smart TV. I want to watch a show and I just turn it on and watch it in Dolby Vision with a 5.1 Atmos sound. You get the possibilities you can get from the box and also often from the built-in smart TV.
You can play content as natively as possible, because here this smart TV device, it’s directly part of the TV, it’s directly soldered into the boards. And in the first smart TVs, Dolby Vision was already available.
That is, Dolby Vision was only available with the Smart TV at first, and only then did the Apple TV come out with Dolby Vision support. Before that, you could only see Dolby Vision on your TV through Smart TV.
And so features like this often appear here first and only then do external devices introduce them.
But external devices have their disadvantages, for example, you still have HDMI cables with which you have to connect these devices. Sometimes they glitch, sometimes they fall out, sometimes they’re of poor quality, and sometimes they start to strobe or give you some kind of digital noise. And here it’s all built into the TV, and it either works or it doesn’t, it usually works. And not only video streaming is available here. Here you can listen to music, for example, if you subscribe to it, the same Apple music.
From the Phone Streaming
From your phone, streaming is probably the next most common scenario for using a Smart TV, because very often it has an audio system connected to it.
And so that you can just take something quickly from your phone and turn it on on that audio system, it’s often easier to send the file directly to the TV. You have it playing, the sound goes automatically through an HDMI cable in the return channel, through the eARC protocol to your AV receiver or processor, and is output through your stereo system or home theater.
Another scenario for using Smart TV is different IP TVs.
YouTube has replaced a lot of TV channels for us to watch now. But if you still, for whatever reason, like certain TV shows and want to watch them online, you don’t even have to have an antenna connection or cable TV. You just plugged the TV into the socket, connected it to Wi-Fi, start, for example, the application of the desired channel, and watch your favorite shows or news, watch the record even what programs you missed.
In addition to viewing IPTV online through native applications of each channel, you can also access other TV channels in the general lists. That is, there is so much content for free now, and it’s all here that you don’t even have to pay anyone.
So no antenna, no cable TV, forget all about it. And all the basic information and even more you can get now for free from various other services.
Another feature that is becoming more and more common with these TVs is the gallery. The TV always hangs on the wall, not always a black screen off makes your living room attractive.
In this case, you can turn on an art gallery-type app, and install some kind of picture here. It’s a picture gallery in your home. And when the TV is on standby, it doesn’t show you any content, it doesn’t play anything, you can just make it part of the interior.
This kind of usage scenario is more and more common in all modern televisions. Especially when screen diagonals are increasing. Because a big black square on a beautiful wall is very rarely a decoration.
Choose one or the other scenario to show pictures, and your TV becomes just a picture gallery, decorating your room.
The next feature that is used quite often is the media player. It may look unattractive. Nevertheless, it has all the necessary functionality. You can insert a flash drive into your TV, you can connect your TV to your local network.
If you have a computer in the network with a shared folder with movies, or pictures, or music, you can watch all the content directly on the TV via this built-in application, which is called a media player.
Depending on the brand of Smart TV, it may have a different form, but the essence does not change. It is an application that spins content that you either insert on external media, you can connect to a hard drive, or directly from the local network.
Any TV set you have can automatically become, for example, an advertising board. You put it in a showcase and plug in a flash drive with your commercial. And the slide show, pictures of your product are running.
The next usage scenario is gaming. There’s an app like GeForce Now.
This means that you can connect your joystick to a smart TV. Yes by Bluetooth, you just take any joystick and connect it. Start GeForce Now, put your account there, and play any available games on this service. And games are available there, in general, all that is available on powerful computers, you buy them, download, put, suffer, and all the rest. You buy an expensive computer. And with Geforce Now, you stream the game directly from the Geforce servers.
Here you just manage and play directly from a smart TV. Joystick is left to be added, just wireless headphones, and controllers. All your entertainment and all the content are available to you right out of the box.
Well, and various other scenarios that we haven’t talked about. But here’s everything that will come to mind for the creators of these applications, which can use the capabilities of this smart device with a screen, and various wireless connections, with this remote control, which picks up and just does like a mouse.
Anything that comes to mind and is supported by the functionality of this powerful computer, which is built right into the television, should be and will be available to you right out of the box.
When you buy a television, the possibilities are limited only by usage scenarios, and only by the ability to interact with that television. But, everything we have now is smart, and our televisions are so completely smart.
Is it Necessary to Buy a Smart TV?
And in conclusion, is it worth buying a smart TV now? And I’ll tell you this, it will probably be hard to find a TV without a smart TV in 2023 because it doesn’t cost much anymore.
And only probably the most junior models, the most basic series of TVs, don’t carry this smart TV on board right now. Most televisions have some kind of smart TV functionality already built in.
What if the TV is Old?
Any old TV that has an HDMI input on the panel can be turned into a smart TV, you just need to add to it as a source of some kind of set-top box. Almost all of the functionality is available through these external devices.
So you should do this. And you do not have to run out and throw out your TV, especially if you have a good, big one, and the picture on the screen pleases you.
Security and Privacy Risks
Because your TV is connected to the Internet, it’s at risk of hacking, and the manufacturers themselves may be watching you when you don’t even think about it.
Manufacturers track your activity online or while watching TV to show relevant ads to you.
Disabling these features is sometimes hidden in menus and the user is unaware of being tracked.
Set-top boxes like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast compete with Smart TVs. They offer the same functionality or even more, the interface may be better.
Such set-top boxes add even more wires, you need another remote. And it’s good if the STB doesn’t process video with its processor according to its algorithms, because there is a video processor in the TV. And the TV already has everything inside, and everything is set up and coordinated.
The disadvantages of Smart TV can include an uncomfortable interface and poor performance. But this depends on the manufacturer, less on the number of series in the line of TVs. That is, the more expensive the model, the better the built-in functions, including smart TV.
But such disadvantages are decreasing with each year, with each update. Manufacturers do remove such shortcomings and try to bring their products to good condition.