In the past, when shopping for a TV the things you looked at were, screen size, picture quality, sound quality & connectivity. It was this way for many years. And now recently we have another factor to consider and that is the “smart tv”.Not everyone needs a smart TV. Let’s take a look at what this feature has to offer.
The benefits of smart TV are: the ability to access a large number of “channels” that offer TV programs, movies & music without having to connect to service provider for cable/satellite service or a TV antennaIn most cases, depending on Make and model; web browsing, gaming and access to compatible media content store on your PC.
Smart TVs also have the ability to receive TV programming in the traditional fashion via antenna or cable/satellite; some makes are actually taking steps to eliminate the traditional built-in tuners and antenna/cable connections in a number of sets going for the built-in streaming platform. Vizio is one of these makes that have a number of models with only abuilt-in streaming platform.
What is a “Smart TV” and how does it work? Simply put, a smart TV has an operating system/platform that allows the user to access, manage and view the internet and network-based media content without connecting to a computer or any additional equipment.
How this works is by providing the ability to connect to the same broadband router via Ethernet or a WiFi connection that you use to connect your PC to the internet. After you have connected your smart TV to the internet, the smart TV will display a menu that includes a list of available internet channels, which are provided in the form of apps (just like your smartphone). Such apps include YouTube, Netflix, PlayStation, etc.
Some apps are preloaded, while others can be downloaded and added to the TV’s app menu. Navigating and managing these apps can be different from TV to TV depending on the brand and model of smart TV you have.
A Few Platforms: Sony, LeECO – Android TVLG – WebOS Element – Amazon Fire TV Additional Smart TV Features SmartShare with LG and SmartView with Samsung provide additional capabilities such as Miracast and Screen Sharing which lets users view content from compatible Tablets and Smartphones, right on their TV screen. (Each brand can be different so check to see if your brand offers something along these lines). In some cases, as smart TV can do the reverse and send content from the TV to the compatible smartphone. So the user can continue to view that content from their smartphone or tablet and away from the TV. Here are some additional factors to take into consideration.
Yes, smart TV platforms provide access to a lot of free channels and services, most do require either a monthly subscription or pay-per-view fee. These can add up quickly and start costing you more than cable or satellite. The plus side of this, is that you will only be paying for the content you actually want, and not all the ones you don’t want.
For those that access iTunes to stream audio and video content, there is no TV that has this capability of streaming from iTunes. You still need to purchase an Apple TV box. And depending on the brand/model of smart TV you purchase, this determines what services and features you have to access like Netflix, Vudu, Hulu or Pandora – there may be a lot of additional and niche channels you may desire that may not be accessible on some smart TV platforms.
There is some hype about using a smart TV and privacy issues. Smart TVs and/or the content app providers, usually track your viewing habits in order to give you viewing suggestions. Like when logging on to Netflix, you will see a “Watched Recently” list. Convenient yes because it cuts down on time searching for movies or programs to watch, however, the smart TV may be doing more than tracking your viewing habits.
If your TV has a webcam or voice control there is a small possibility that someone can hack in and see or hear you. As well as any credit card purchases made using your TV may be track-able by third parties. So, just be very cautious with your credit card purchases like you would on a PC and if your webcam or voice control is on – don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t do or say in public.
Using a smart TV may result in privacy issues. Smart TVs and/or the content app providers usually track your viewing habits in order to provide you with viewing suggestions. For example, every time I log into Netflix, the menu shows me what I have watched recently, as well as updated suggestions for related movies or programs that I might like based on my “watched recently” list. You might think that this type of tracking is a good thing, because it cuts down spending time search for movies or programs to watch, but a smart TV may be doing more than just track your viewing habits.
If you’re smart TV has a webcam, or voice control, there is a possibility, although remote, that someone can hack in and see/hear you. Also, any credit card purchases you make using your TV may be track-able by third parties.
If you like your current TV and just want to add a few features there are devices out there that will allow you to add Smart features on your current TV at minimal cost.
Stereo or Home Theater Receivers
A Stereo or Home Theater Receiver not only plays music through a stereo or home theatre speaker setup at much higher quality than those built-in TV speakers (or a TV combined with a sound bar), it also provides access to several music streaming services.
Blu-ray Disc players
Almost all Blu-ray Disc players provide access to a number of internet streaming channels (depending on brand and model), plus play your physical media (Blu-ray disc, DVDs & CDs). Also, cuts down on cable clutter.
Another “cord cutting” option is the DVR. DVRs combine reception of over-the-air TV signals, video recording, and internet streaming in one box. However, this option is more expensive than the media streamer and Blu-ray Disc player options.
A media streamer is a small box that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and connects to your internet router via Ethernet/WiFi. There are different options available if you don’t have an HDMI port.
When you go shopping for a TV, be aware of variations in content access, additional subscription/pay-per-view costs, privacy issues, picture and sound quality, and connectivity. And remember, adding Smart features, doesn’t mean you need to purchase a new TV.
If you have decided that you need a new TV and the Smart TV option is the way to go, here are some excellent TV’s to consider: