What Does A Smart Television Do?

Streaming apps on a smart TV

For many years, a smart TV was a luxury choice for tech obsessives. They were for people who wanted their humble television to be capable of so much even though they rarely used it for more than catching up on the latest BBC drama or rugby match.

Now, smart TV’s are the standard. Most new televisions a ‘smart’, though many people still don’t realise what they’re capable of. And they are capable of a lot. They can change the way you use your television, and simplify your viewing experience. 

With the difference that all features of a smart TV can make, it’s important to know just what you’re getting when you buy one. 

This guide will explain exactly what to expect when you buy a smart TV. We’ll explore the extra features and the benefits they may bring. We’ll also answer some of the most commonly asked questions about smart televisions so that you can understand just why they’ve become so popular.

What is a Smart Television?

Simply put, a smart TV is a television that can connect to and process information from the internet. This is why it is occasionally called a ‘connected TV’.

Unlike ‘traditional’ TV’s which could only broadcast content taken from a dedicated wired aerial connection, a smart TV can take information from the internet and process it through a series of apps and programmes that are inbuilt or downloaded to the TV.

These days, the majority of televisions on the market are smart TV’s, with only a few traditional (or ‘dumb’) TV’s available.

LG Smart TV displaying streaming apps

What Are The Benefits Of Smart TV?

If you enjoy having a connected, feature-filled home then there are plenty of benefits to having a Smart TV.

  • Effortless Streaming

If you like to watch TV and films using subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and NowTV, a smart TV makes this process a doddle.

No more worrying about wires or hooking your TV up to other devices. With a smart TV, you can download apps straight onto the TV itself to watch your favourite shows through.

All the major streaming services have apps available, not just paid ones. BBC iPlayer*, ITV Player and even YouTube all provide apps you can use to watch shows.

A man casting a video from his phone to his smart TV
  • Quick Casting

As well as being able to access apps, smart TV’s can stream wireless signals from phones, computers and other devices.

This gives you another way to access media including music, pictures and videos. It is quick and easy to set up and once again removes the need for a nest of cables cluttering the back of your TV.

  • Bigger Range of Purchasing Choices

So many televisions are smart-enabled now that it’s actually easier tobuy a smart TV than a ‘dumb’ one. This means you no longer have to pay significantly higher prices for smart TV’s either.

Look for a smart TV in most stores and you’ll find a wide selection of feature-packed sets. If you’re looking for pin-sharp quality, an extremely large screen, or added connection ports, you’ll find it easier to get a smart TV to meet your needs than a ‘dumb’ one.

  • Better Sound Quality

As manufacturers usually pitch smart TV’s towards higher quality, they often achieve better audio quality than a regular TV. They offer crisper sound and some may even strive to provide a form of surround sound.

Of course, if you want a truly immersive audio experience to match the incredible quality of a 4K or 8K television, a soundbar will give you pitch-perfect and crystal clear surround sound.

A boy and a man watching football together on their smart TV
A person using a remote control on a smart TV
  • Easier to Use

If you’re the kind of person who is forever losing your remote, a smart TV will cut the hours you spend scrabbling down the back of the sofa.

Most smart TV’s now can connect to assistant devices and apps like Alexa or Google Home. They will even connect with apps on your phone.

These will allow you to use voice control on your TV, changing the channel, the volume or even switch it off with just a couple of words. 

With a smart TV, you are free to hide your remote at the back of a cupboard, as you know the confounded thing would rather live there anyway.

  • Create a Smart Home

Fill your home with smart appliances, and you can take this improved usability to the next level.

Many smart TV’s are able to function as a home hub. If you connect your devices to the TV correctly, you can use the voice control on your TV to use all kinds of appliances, even your washing machine, thermostat or lights.

What are the disadvantages of a smart TV?

Investing in a smart TV might feel like a no brainer decision, however, there are some disadvantages you should consider.

  • Security and Privacy

Anything that connects to the internet will carry a potential disadvantage that it’s impossible to avoid completely. That is an increased security and privacy risk.

The reduced online functionality of a TV does in turn limit the risk it poses here, but you should be careful which websites or apps you download and share your details with. 

If you are very concerned about these implications, you can also use your smart TV without connecting to the internet at all. 

  • Processing Power

While a smart TV brings together many different available apps, it is limited in its processing capabilities. 

This is necessary to keep your TV sleek and streamlined while still providing that all-important incredible viewing experience.

This can mean some of their other features can be prone to glitches. These will usually be small and infrequent enough that they won’t impact your day to day use of the TV. 

Like most technological issues, almost all of them can be solved by simply switching the TV off and on again.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smart TV’s

The case for buying a smart TV is a pretty persuasive one. It can turn your television from a humble screen into the hub of your home, able to control appliances, access endless viewing options and more. However, there are some other questions that a lot of people ask before they’re ready to make the change. 

What is the difference between a smart TV and a regular tv?

As we discussed above, the main difference between a smart TV and a regular TV is the way they received a signal. 

A regular TV can only process the signal that comes through an aerial. You can hook it up to a variety of devices including a Blu-ray player, games console or set-top box and it will broadcast their signals, but it is the devices that are processing the information. The TV just shares the result of the signal.

With the help of relevant apps, a smart TV has the power to process this information on its own.

Does A Smart TV Need An Aerial?

At its heart, any TV is basically a display screen. It needs to receive the instructions of what to display from somewhere. For many people that will be through an aerial, although a smart TV with Freeview built-in will offer access to a lot more channels than a traditional TV aerial set-up.

However, you can also choose to access a signal elsewhere. That could be from a SkyBox, a Virgin Media package or even just via the streaming apps available on the TV itself. You don’t have to hook a smart TV up to an aerial unless you want to.

Will A Smart TV Work Without An Internet Connection?

As wonderful as all these additional features are, a lot of people only want their TV for one thing: viewing programmes, films and games. 

If this is the case, then your smart TV will work perfectly well without an internet connection. Hook it up to an aerial and you will still be able to watch live programming.

You can also connect the TV to a device that has an internet connection, such as a Blu-ray player or games console using an HDMI connection. This way you can still stream programmes from Netflix, Prime and YouTube videos without connecting the television specifically to the internet.

Do Smart TVs Need Wifi?

If you do decide to make use of the connective features of your TV, you don’t necessarily need to do so via Wifi. 

Most smart TV’s will have an ethernet port to help you create a wired connection to the internet. If you use your TV for a lot of high-resolution streaming, using an ethernet cable can provide a stronger and more stable connection. This means less time spent buffering or reconnecting.

Which Smart TV is best?

By now you hopefully realise the benefits that having a smart TV can bring to any home. 

Of course, different makes and models of television will have different strengths, weaknesses and additional features. This makes it hard to pick an all-encompassing ‘best smart TV’.

If you already favour a brand across the rest of the appliances in your home, it can be a great idea to get a smart TV that matches. It will open up a world of compatibility potential.

Alternatively, decide which features you prioritise, whether it’s the incredible visuals of an LG OLED TV or the rapid refresh rate of ‘Game Mode’ available on a Samsung TV

Then you will be able to find the perfect smart TV for you.

*A TV License is still required to watch BBC iPlayer