What is a Smart TV?

By Mike Atherton 29 Nov 2017
Smart TV

Smart TVs let you do lots of things that you can't do on a standard TV. You can access the internet, play games, stream movies & TV, and download all kinds of apps - so if you're considering ditching the old TV in favour of a smart TV, or if you're just wondering what you can do with your TV, here's everything you need to know.


What is a 'Smart' TV?


To put it simply, a smart TV is any TV that connects to the internet to access online services like video streaming, social networking, or just browsing the web.

These days, you can pick up a smart TV from as little as £150, and they can be connected to other smart kit throughout your home too, like your smartphone or tablet - great for sharing family photos, or watching YouTube videos on the big screen. 

Your TV will need to be within range of a Wi-Fi network to be able to get access to the 'smart' features, but if you don't have Wi-Fi, most smart TVs have an ethernet port in the back so you can plug it directly into your broadband router.

Once your TV is connected, you'll have access to a whole range of online services.


What is a smart tv

Online features and apps


The features and apps available on your smart TV will vary depending on the make and model. Most will give you access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Some also feature instant messaging apps like Skype, and with the addition of a webcam, some higher-end TVs will even let you make full-screen video calls.

But the most popular smart TV feature is without doubt the ability to access 'video on demand' services. These range from free services like YouTube and Vimeo - handy for watching music videos, movie trailers, or cute cat videos, to subscription-based services like Netflix and Amzon Video, offering a vast online library of movies and TV shows to stream whenever you want.

Most smart TVs come with some of the more popular apps pre-installed, like BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport, Channel 4's All 4, and Spotify - giving you instant access to some great online content, whether it's TV, movies, sport, or music.


Alternatives to Smart TVs


If you'd like to get access to all the great content that a smart TV offers, but you'd rather not splash out on a new one, don't worry - there are a few clever little devices that plug into your TV, giving you access to movies and TV on-demand, using apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, and many more.

Streaming sticks


There are a few options available, but the most popular streaming devices are Amazon's Fire TV stick, and Google's Chromecast. Both of these work a little differently but they'll essentially turn your standard TV into a smart TV.

Set top boxes


These are a little more conventional, and like streaming sticks, there are lots of different ones available that also offer smart functions, like Now TV, Apple TV, or one of the many Humax boxes. Most set top boxes also come with lots of storage - so you can record, pause, and rewind live TV.

Home cinema systems


A home cinema system is a great way to upgrade all of your TV and audio kit in one go. As well as adding a great cinema experience, many of these systems also have smart functions built-in to let you stream movies and watch catch up TV.

There are lots of other ways you can get smart features on your TV, and our guide to streaming on a non-smart TV will take you through them in more detail.

Hopefully that's made the world of smart TVs a little clearer. If you need help with anything else you can get in touch with one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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