Smart TVs aren’t new. But they’re much smarter today than they were when they first appeared.
Streaming services have revolutionized the way we watch TV shows and movies. TVs have also changed, with voice control and streaming services. While most TVs can now be described as smart TVs, not all TVs are the same.
Can a smart TV be more powerful than the best streaming devices? Privacy concerns? Which is the smartest? We’ve created this guide to help you understand the differences between brands and models.
We’ll answer your most common questions about smart TVs.
1. What is a smart television?
The “old dumb TVs”, which could only display content from an HDTV antenna or cable, are now almost extinct. The connected world today expects something smarter. The modern TV looks more like a tablet or smartphone than the old tube TV. It has powerful processors and internet connectivity.
Like smartphones and smart homes, smart TVs offer internet connectivity and support for many apps. This allows for a wide range of entertainment options including streaming video on Netflix and Hulu, playing games, checking out social media and controlling a whole home full of connected gadgets.
Many models include voice recognition tools such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for searching for programs and switching channels. Many smart TVs can be used with the best smart speaker, while others will have some or all that functionality built into the TV.
Smart TVs have more advanced smart home features than ever before. Some TVs include dedicated dashboards for controlling all connected devices.
However, the functions don’t end there. To discover new uses for your smart television, check out 11 surprising things your smart TV can do
These are the ones that are currently on sale:
Every day, we check more than 250 million products to ensure the best price
2. What companies make smart TVs
With the trend towards making all TV sets “smart”, every major TV manufacturer has moved away from dumb TVs. Hisense, LG and Panasonic are just a few of the top smart TV manufacturers. (Check out the top TV brands for some of our favorite TV manufacturers.
These companies may tout their smart platforms to be the best, but budget-priced TVs with no smart TV capabilities should be avoided. These smart TV platforms from other brands may not offer the best app selection, performance or security features.
3. How can smart TVs connect with the internet?
Smart TVs use your home network to stream video and other services to your TV. They can either use wired Ethernet or built in Wi-Fi to keep connected. The majority of current TVs support 802.11ac WiFi. However, older models may still be compatible with the older 802.11n standard. Although some of the most recent models will support Wi-Fi 6, it is still very rare.
This guide will help you optimize your home Wi-Fi to stream. It can be used for setting up router placements, tweaking settings, or simply opting for a wired connection.
There are several ways to fix your TV’s weak wireless signal. Any model on our top Wi-Fi routers list, including the budget-friendly, will work if you are in need of an upgrade.
Mesh routers that extend coverage throughout a house are another option. Two such models, the Nest WiFi or Netgear OBI WiFi 6, are excellent options for those who want to cover large homes with Wi-Fi.
Companies such as Netgear also offer Wi Fi range extenders, but these devices can take some time to set up and require patience.
4. What services are offered by smart TVs and what makes them different?
No matter what TV brand you choose, smart TVs today will offer a wide range of streaming services and content options, including Netflix. Amazon Prime Video. Disney Plus. HBO Max. It’s not just paid subscriptions. There are many ad-supported streaming services such as PlutoTV and Tubi.
Our guides will show you how to find the best streaming content.
- These are the 63 top shows on Netflix
- These are our picks for the top Netflix movies
- The top Amazon movies and shows
- The top Hulu movies, and other shows
YouTube and other popular video sharing sites have their own smart TV apps that allow for simple browsing. This is tailored to TVs and can be controlled with a remote. Smart TVs are a great way for streaming music with internet radio services such as Spotify and Pandora.
Although most smart TVs can access social media apps like Twitter and Facebook, it might be more difficult to use these sites as you’re used to.
Samsung Smart TV interface
One of the most popular features in smart TVs are voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. These interactive tools have the same functionality and are compatible with most smart speakers.
The smart TV is now a central hub for connected homes. It provides control and compatibility for all connected devices in the household, from smart doorbells, to smart thermostats, and everything in between. Many TVs have smart home control dashboards that allow you to control many devices from the comfort of your sofa.
Not all smart TVs work equally. Also, not all operating systems or platforms will support the same features and apps. For their smart TVs, some manufacturers use proprietary operating systems such as Vizio’s SmartCast and Samsung’s Tizen smart television software. Other software is available, including Roku TV and Amazon Fire TV. These are both popular for budget-friendly sets as well as Google’s Android TV. It can also be found on other brands such as Hisense, Sony, and Hisense. Several sets also include Apple TV.
Each operating system will offer some, or all, of the features listed above. However, each system will have its own set of apps, features, and compatibility with other devices.
Every smart TV operating system has a unique user interface. These can be very different. Some use a scrolling ribbon with app icons at the bottom of their screen while others have a full-screen menu that allows you to see multiple options at once. These menu navigation methods will vary from brand to brand because each TV manufacturer has its own remote control design.
Check out our most recent reviews of the top TVs for more information about the features, apps and services of each smart TV platform.
Let’s face it: Take some time to look through the smart options in the set before you decide.
5. My smart TV will my software be updated regularly with new features.
Yes, in general. Every major TV manufacturer regularly releases updates for their smart television software. These updates add new features, refine old ones, and fix bugs and security problems, much like other operating systems. These updates can add new features like Dolby Vision support, or simply refine the internal firmware of the TV (often downloaded automatically at night).
It also depends on other factors. Older models and smaller TV brands may take longer to update than larger companies like LG, Samsung, and Sony. TCL’s partnership with Roku has been a success, but other value-priced brands may take longer to update or add new apps. Software updates are routinely performed by most major manufacturers.
Don’t be afraid of being left behind. If one company offers a popular service such as Netflix, all other manufacturers will follow their lead. It is not uncommon for delays to be resolved by the company.
6. Can a smart TV fall or hang like a computer?
Yes, that’s the simple answer. Smart TVs are now able to perform many of the same functions as smartphones and computers, which means there is an increased risk of them crashing or hanging. Smart TVs are becoming computers just as smartphones have become computers. Our TVs are expected to be able to access content from the internet, run advanced apps and have voice interaction. Smart TV problems can be a surprise because we don’t think of them as more than basic displays.
Although crashes and slow performance were a problem in the past, they are now much less common. However, there are still problems, especially with low-end smart TVs, which may not have the most up-to-date hardware or software. If the screen becomes stuck or freezes, turn the TV on and off until the problem is resolved.
7. Smart TVs offer other benefits than apps.
Smart TVs offer many other benefits. Newer sets include popular voice assistants. Voice search allows you to search live TV and streaming services. It also adds a search for celebrity gossip and weather information. Voice integration allows you to access other services right from your couch. This makes it easy to order pizza or call an Uber. You can also pair the TV with the smart speakers of choice if the TV’s voice assistant is not for you.
These features allow you to control smart home devices such as connected lights, thermostats, and more. You can also view feeds from your Nest camera, and Ring phone, and control your robot vacuum. You can expect the same enhancements to your smart TVs as voice assistants, via firmware and software updates.
These TVs have a higher processor speed than regular sets and can be connected to the internet. This allows manufacturers to add features such as casual games. Although the games are not as complex or compelling as those on a PlayStation, or Xbox, they can still be fun.
You can also mirror and share photos and videos from your connected smartphone to many sets. To provide a more personalized experience with sharing media, most manufacturers use proprietary apps. Others rely on third-party solutions such as Google Chromecast. Either way, sharing videos and photos has never been easier.
Smart TVs are now featuring much better built-in sound systems. LG and Sony have made significant advances in this area and offer Dolby Atmos sound on a variety of models. They hope that the smart TV can also serve as a home stereo system for streaming music and listening to online radio stations.
8. Can I use my smart television with Amazon Alexa and Google Home?
The smart speaker is the most popular smart speaker in home technology. It has a microphone and hardware that can run a voice-enabled personal assistant. The Amazon Echo was the first to make a big splash in this area, along with other Alexa enabled devices. However, Google Assistant has made significant strides in the Google Nest Mini as well as the Google Nest Audio. The Apple HomePod places Siri in a similar form factor.
These devices are compatible with almost all smart TVs. This is a great news. Software updates continue to improve compatibility. All major TV manufacturers are compatible with smart speakers. You will need to use an additional device such as a smart speaker, mobile device or smart assistant, but this will allow you to control your TV and other smart devices using simple speech.
These voice assistants are now available on many smart TVs. Hisense and Sony both offer Android TVs with Google Assistant. Amazon Alexa now comes with Amazon Fire Edition TVs, and Sony announced compatibility to the new Amazon Alexa app on Android TV. Smart TVs made by Samsung and LG now include both Google Assistant as well as Amazon Alexa.
You can activate voice interaction by pressing a button on these models. Some new models, such as the Sony Bravia OLED TV have far-field microphones. They allow you to speak directly to the TV, but you can also turn it off if you wish.