What is a Smart TV?
Smart technology means you can connect your TV to the internet to unlock all kinds of great online services. We’ve put together everything you need to know about smart TVs to help you choose the right one.
Many new TVs have smart capabilities, but it’s worth noting that you don’t need to be connected to the internet just to watch television.
What you’ll need to Get Connected
Before you purchase your smart TV, make sure you have everything you need to take advantage of what’s on offer.
It’s recommended you have the following:
- An internet connection: Most smart televisions are Wi-Fi enabled, making it easy to wirelessly connect to your router straight out of the box. Some require a Wi-Fi dongle, which you may need to buy separately. Another possibility is connecting your TV to the router via an Ethernet cable, but it will need to be close to your router or you’ll need to buy a long cable.
- Fast broadband speed: If you want to stream TV shows and films, a fast internet connection means you’ll have smooth, uninterrupted playback. An unlimited broadband package is a must – this will prevent you from being charged extra for exceeding your data limit.
- A TV licence: This is needed if you want to stream live TV on services such as iPlayer or ITV Player, or watch regular programming via an aerial. You don’t need a TV licence if you only watch on-demand or catch up TV over the internet, as long as you aren’t watching it live.
What Apps Are On Offer?
There is much more to a smart TV than being able to browse the web. There are a multitude of apps available for your every need.
Catch up on your favourite TV shows through video-on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer and All 4. If you have a subscription to a streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, you can watch films and TV shows whenever you like.
Want to catch up with friends in the UK or abroad? Do you like browsing through social media? Apps such as Skype, Facebook and Twitter make keeping in touch with loved ones easy.
If you have gamers or children in your family, you can download games to play on your TV.
There really is an app to suit everyone in your family, whether you want to catch up with the news and weather or listen to your favourite tunes on Spotify.
There is much more to a smart TV than being able to browse the web.
How Do I Make My Current TV Smart?
If you don’t have the money to buy a new smart TV, there are many affordable options for accessing internet services on your current television.
- Set top boxes: Access video on-demand, catch-up TV and other selected internet apps for free by using devices such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. If you’re a film or entertainment buff, it’s worth considering paying for streaming services like Now TV, for an inexpensive monthly fee.
- Streaming sticks: You can also buy thumb sized devices from brands such as Google Chromecast and Roku. Plug these into your TV’s HDMI port to access online content instantly.
- YouView: This combines Freeview digital TV with catch-up TV services from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5 – all visible from a clever programme guide that lets you go back in time. The YouView set-top box can be purchased from a retailer, or as part of a contract with BT, Talk Talk or Plusnet.
- Computer: You can also connect your PC to your TV, via a VGA or HDMI cable. The easiest way to do this is to see what ports are available on your TV and computer. Once you have the correct cable, you can view content from your computer on your TV.
- Games consoles: The major games consoles like Xbox One and Playstation 4 offer access to various streaming and video-on-demand applications.
- Smart Blu-ray players: Some Blu-ray players are equipped with smart capabilities, which is ideal if you want to watch online content alongside HD movies.
There are many affordable options for accessing internet services on your current television.
Benefits of Smart TV
- There are a variety of apps available on smart TVs, which either come pre-loaded, or are available to download from an app store specific to the TV brand.
- Many smart TV models have built-in web browsers, which mean you can view web pages, images and videos on your TV screen.
- Some brands offer additional services to make them stand out from the competition, such as personalised recommendations of things to watch based on your pre-set preferences.
- Many smart TV models are available at affordable prices of around £200.
Drawbacks of Smart TV
- Web browsing can be difficult when using a remote control to navigate.
- You may pay more for your TV than a comparable model without smart features. If you don’t intend to access online content, this could be a waste.
- Unlimited broadband is required to take full advantage of catch up TV apps, on demand services and Skype.
Many smart TV models are available at affordable prices of around £200.