If not, you might be left wondering what a smart TV is and what it can do? You might also want to know if they’re really that much better than “regular” TVs and if they’re worth the extra money?
A smart TV is a television with internet capabilities. They typically connect via WiFi and allow you to view all kinds of content through apps, such as Netflix and YouTube. They still work perfectly with your cable provider but also give you greater access to more shows and services.
In this guide, I’ll cover everything from what a smart TV is and what it can do to which are the best and how you can set them up at home. Read on to learn all about the best smart TVs and the best way to use them!
1. What Is a Smart TV and How Do I Use It?
2. What Are the Pros of Smart TVs?
3. What Are the Cons of Smart TVs?
4. Alternatives to Smart TVs
5. How To Install My Smart TV
6. Guide to the Best Smart TVs
7. Smart tv guide for dummies: Final Thoughts
What Is a Smart TV and How Do I Use It?
Although you may have only recently heard of them, chances are that you have already interacted with at least one smart TV. People adore them, which is why they’re currently so well-liked.
You must first comprehend what a smart TV does before making a purchase. Here is a breakdown of the functions and operations of smart TVs.
What Does “Smart” Mean?
A regular television with built-in internet functionality is referred to as a “smart TV. A GUI, or graphical user interface, is a feature of smart TVs that gives the device software that makes interactive features possible.
You can click various apps and settings just like you would on a very basic computer, instead of having to scroll through a list of broadcast channels.
A smart TV is similar to a phone in that it works mostly through third-party apps, while phones and gaming consoles usually have GUIs.
Regular TVs can also use third-party apps, but they require a separate hardware item to do so. Smart TVs don’t even require an input to connect.
Essentially, all it means is that a smart TV can connect to the Internet and start playing videos right away.
This simplifies your TV setup by eliminating the need for cables, but it also connects to other devices in your home and can pick up on your preferences. People adore them because of how easily they can be customised.
How To Use a Smart TV for Dummies
Smart TVs can connect to the Internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi connections. Your TV will have a much more reliable connection if you use an Ethernet cable to connect it to your broadband router.
But a Wi-Fi connection should be adequate if you don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of an additional wire. If you leave your TV on all day, every day, the most reliable way to connect would be through Ethernet.
Depending on the brand you choose for your TV, you should be able to access a menu screen once you’re connected.
Each, however, ought to walk you through the setup, including how to use WiFi. Then, a huge selection of apps and internet TV channels will be available to you.
Each TV comes with preloaded apps and channels, but you can add more to your app library for free or for a fee.
To use the apps, such as Netflix, you typically need to sign up for a paid subscription, so make sure you’re signed up before downloading. You should sign up on a computer because it can be difficult to do so on the TV itself.
Smart TVs can connect to a conventional cable or satellite system in addition to doing all of the above.
Because there are so few wires surrounding your entertainment system, this makes them especially appealing for families. This results in a more attractive living room and less chance of younger children tripping over wires.
What Are the Pros of Smart TVs?
At the moment, almost anything can be made “smart,” including doorbells and coffee makers.
It’s simpler than ever to get some great features at lower prices as more and more products like this enter the market.
To help you decide if a smart TV is right for you, let’s go over some of its best features.
Ease of Use
Smart TVs are surprisingly simple to use and set up thanks to their layout, apps, and extremely user-friendly configuration.
You have numerous apps catered to your interests, so you don’t need to sift through hundreds of channels every time you want to watch something.
Even better, smart TVs sometimes offer recommendations based on your preferences. To keep your most-used apps at the top of the screen, many may also offer a “favourite” section that you can customise.
When it comes to the quality of the video and audio, smart TVs aren’t necessarily “nicer” TVs.
The majority of them do, however, feature 4K resolution and other cutting-edge image technology.
In other words, you can buy a regular TV that has a picture quality that is just as good as any smart TV, but smart TVs typically have a high standard of quality.
Hundreds of Apps
The main appeal of a smart TV is the vast array of apps that are available to users.
They’re all right there in the app library, so there’s no need to connect numerous devices or go through a number of hoops to access them.
There are many different apps available, including social media, gaming, and video streaming.
Can Replace Set-Top Boxes and Cable
Even though a smart TV won’t be able to access every cable channel, you can set up a different method to access most broadcast channels without connecting to any other devices.
If you have a username and an account, you can stream live TV through apps like the Xfinity app. But if you want local channels, you’ll probably still need to buy a TV antenna or a cable box.
Can Work With Cable
You may still benefit greatly from a smart TV even if you’re not ready to give up your cable box.
A smart TV can be plugged into a cable box right away, and it will work the same way as a regular TV, but with more features.
Most of the time, all you have to do to connect to cable networks is change the HDMI channels on your TV.
Some Have Web Browsers
Not every smart TV has this function, and as more businesses develop apps just for smart TVs, it becomes less necessary to offer a web browser as one of the apps customers may access.
A wireless keyboard that connects to the TV is needed if you want to use the web browser feature, although doing so is cumbersome.
However, a few models come with browsing features if this is something you’ve always desired your TV could do.
Voice Assistant Compatible
Voice assistants are built into many smart TVs, so you can use them to control your TV without a remote.
You can use your voice to search for music on Spotify, Netflix, and a wide range of other applications since they work with all of them. This saves time while searching online or in case you lose the remote.
What Are the Cons of Smart TVs?
Smart TVs provide a lot of advantages, but they also come with some additional concerns.
Since smart TVs are really just little computers, there is an increased danger of privacy invasion and system instability.
Users seldom experience them, but you should be aware of them so that you can safeguard yourself.
Like any other web-connected device, smart TVs are susceptible to crashes, and customers periodically complain about their widely used applications crashing a lot.
Most of the time, all your TV needs is a software update, but it may still be inconvenient.
A smart TV is probably not for you if you shy away from using Google due to worries about the security of your data and online usage.
You’ll probably want to go with a standard TV antenna or cable box even though some versions include privacy settings that you may toggle.
Can Be Hacked
Because smart TVs are linked to your Internet connection, the signal may be hacked and used to extract user information.
Even though there isn’t much chance of hacking a smart TV, some people may decide not to buy one because they usually have cameras and microphones.
Nevertheless, the majority of smart TVs have virus defences installed to prevent this.
They’re Useless Without the Apps
Using applications to access your content is the whole idea of a smart TV.
You might not be utilising your smart TV to its best potential if you don’t have Netflix, Apple TV, or Hulu subscriptions. If this is the case, a conventional TV that is higher quality but less expensive would be a better choice.
Alternatives to Smart TVs
Perhaps you don’t yet require a new TV, or you simply cannot afford to switch to a brand-new one. You can still update your old TV so that it works like a “smart” TV, which is good news!
A streaming player—an external device with an app store, similar to a smart TV—can do this. For a small one-time cost, Amazon offers a number of streaming players on the market.
Let’s look at a few of the popular options:
One of the most well-liked streaming devices available is the Roku, which is quite simple to operate.
It includes a user-friendly interface and a remote control that offers shortcut buttons for its most popular apps. Even though the Roku Express costs less than $30, there are other Roku products available that offer 4K streaming or long-distance connections.
Amazon Fire TV
The Amazon Fire TV streaming stick is a wonderful alternative.
If you have an Amazon Echo device or any other Alexa technology, you can use this straightforward attachment to combine it with your television.
On Amazon, this Fire TV Stick 4K costs less than $50 and has the same streaming features as Roku. It is even available with a complimentary one-year membership to Food Network Kitchen.
Google Chrome cast
If you have a Google Nest or other smart Google products in your house, the Google Chromecast could be a suitable choice for you. It operates as simply as the other streaming sticks on the list. For less than $30, you can purchase the third-generation Google Chromecast on Amazon.
As it comes with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, in addition to having applications for streaming, AppleTV is often more costly than other gadgets on our list.
The most recent AppleTV model, the Apple TV 4K, is available on Amazon for less than $200 and has the ability to connect through Bluetooth to other items you own that are part of the Apple ecosystem.
The TiVo is a simple device to interface with your cable box and offers its own streaming stick.
The Tivo Stream 4K Stick also comes with a voice-controlled remote and can be used with Google Assistant.
Compared to smart TVs, streaming sticks are far more affordable, don’t have any ongoing costs like cable boxes, and are nearly always interoperable with other smart home gadgets. You may easily upgrade an existing, completely functional TV to include smart TV features.
Furthermore, if you own a game system like a PlayStation 4, there’s a potential that you can add streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Even streaming sports apps like MLB and ESPN+ may be connected.
You may watch TV completely disconnected thanks to gaming consoles.
In comparison to other consoles, smart TVs offer one significant advantage: fewer cords are required for connection. Only a connection to broadcast television is missing from a smart TV’s standard equipment list. However, software like Steam allows you to play video games.
How To Install My Smart TV
Now that you are aware of the functions and operation of smart TVs, it is time to set up your own.
Thankfully, this is fairly easy. It may be even easier to set up than the standard TV and cable pairing, depending on how many devices you want to connect to your TV.
Choose a Place To Put It
The TV should ideally be positioned such that it is just above eye level when you are relaxed and facing the wall opposite your bed or couch.
Try it out by settling into your preferred TV-watching position and focusing your attention on various areas of your wall. The best method for determining where to place your TV is to engage in what may seem like a foolish exercise.
Mount the TV to the Wall
You must have a wall mount for this step. While some smart TVs could come with a mount, it’s always a good idea to verify the box’s contents again before leaving the shop or completing an online purchase.
There are plenty on Amazon, but you may also get one in your local hardware shop most of the time.
You have the following three options when wanting to buy a wall mount:
A permanent TV mount is one that is immobile and secures the TV in place.
A TV mount that revolves and allows you to tilt your TV.
You may slant the TV downward with a tilting mount.
Some will work better for you than others, depending on how your TV will be positioned. But whichever you choose, make sure it’s something reliable with good reviews. When your brand-new, pricey smart TV slides off the wall, you’ll kick yourself for choosing something inexpensive!
The Complete Motion TV Wall Mount from Mounting Dream is among the finest wall mounts since it is compatible with the majority of 26–55″ TVs and features a swivel design for a full range of motion.
Even your TV may be removed from the wall almost 17 “without being at risk. On Amazon, you can get it for less than $30.
Take your time with the steps below to mount your TV on the wall, which is important to make sure it is safe:
To begin with, confirm that the TV is mounted on a wall that can support its weight.
In addition, confirm that there is space for your cable box, gaming consoles, etc.
To support your TV, locate two studs in the wall using a stud finder.
Pencil these locations on the map.
Make marks with your mount in any additional locations where you’ll be screwing into the wall.
After comparing your markings to the wall mount, fasten it to the wall.
The rear of your TV should be attached to the mounting plate.
Place the TV on the wall by securing the mounting plate to the mount.
Verify that the TV is safely fastened before releasing it.
Set the TV Up
Take a look at your TV’s handbook and follow the directions to get your TV running. The method for setting up your smart TV will often differ depending on the manufacturer.
Please remember the following as you follow these instructions:
Use an Ethernet cable or WiFi to access the Internet.
If you can, try setting up software updates to download automatically.
Select the appearance of your home screen.
It’s crucial to have automatic software updates installed because they’ll keep your TV free of errors and bugs. Turn on automatic software updates in the TV’s settings if your smart TV doesn’t already have this feature enabled.
Choose Your Apps
You ought to be able to connect to a variety of smart TV apps at this point. Some well-known streaming services may have them pre-downloaded if you already have an account with them.
Popular apps include:
Amazon Prime Video
Even if you don’t find the app you’re looking for right away, it’s usually free or cheap to download.
Just do a search, download the app, and sign in. Keep a record of each user’s name and password in a safe place.
Connect External Devices
Once your TV is operational, go ahead and connect any cable boxes, gaming systems, and other video and audio sources to the TV.
All of your external devices should be plugged in as soon as possible so that you are aware of any potential issues later on.
If you’re not sure how to connect these things, the cable connections are usually the same as they are for a regular TV:
Using an HDMI cable, join a cable box.
Xbox and PlayStation game consoles can be connected via HDMI as well.
DVD and Blu-ray players are usually connected with component cables and optical or coaxial audio cables.
An IEC cable or a coaxial RF cable is used to connect TV antennas.
If you’ve ever owned a TV, you probably already have the majority of these cables.
Check to see if a brand-new device you want to connect has an HDMI connection.
As they transmit both audio and visual data, these connections are the most basic to use. Most TVs have more than one HDMI port, so you don’t have to stick to just one external device.
TV antennas may seem ridiculous to you, but they’re a fantastic alternative for smart TV owners who don’t want to pay a monthly cable fee but still want access to local TV channels.
Many antennas cost less than $20 and give you free access to dozens of channels. If you like to watch local news or sports, you might want to get a TV antenna.
Choose Your Settings
Check the image again after you’ve finished setting up your TV.
Check out all the video streaming, music streaming, cable inputs, and gaming console plug-ins and apps. Try using each unique item you’ll be using frequently.
Try adjusting the picture settings, brightness, and aspect ratio if anything doesn’t look right.
Maintain a piece of paper or notebook where you can record any adjustments you make to your settings.
In case something seems “off,” you can go back and redo your previous steps.
Hopefully, your smart TV is now set up and ready to use. At least during the first few weeks of use, keep that piece of paper handy by the TV.
Guide to the Best Smart TVs
If you’ve decided that a smart TV is a good choice for you, there are many models with different features. You can probably stick with your preferred brand because most well-known companies today offer a smart TV option. Determine the features you want on your new TV by conducting a quick Google search, then pick a model that meets your requirements.
The top new smart TVs from reputable manufacturers are listed below. Since each of these TVs has 4K capabilities, high-quality images will be present on all of them by default.
This 55-inch smart TV has 8.3 million pixels, which is four times the number of pixels in a standard HD screen.
As you watch sports or play video games, the Local Dimming feature adjusts the brightness of the TV to match your activity.
It has built-in support for Apple HomeKit, Apple AirPlay 2, and Amazon Alexa.
The TCL smart TV has four HDMI ports, which is more than the industry standard of three, and is available in 50″, 55″, 65″, and 75″ sizes. There is no need for an external stick because it comes with built-in Roku technology, but it also supports Amazon Alexa devices.
In order to enhance the TV’s performance specifically for video games, the Vizio V-Series TV has an Auto Game Mode. It also offers “low latency gaming,” which refers to the fact that it was created specifically to handle large amounts of data.
Low latency is a good choice for gamers because games, which often use large data packets, work better with it.
Both Apple AirPlay and Chromecast are built into this smart TV, allowing you to connect to both Apple and Google products.
For gamers who want to avoid sluggish frame rates and frozen screens, this TV also has a Game Mode that provides a more responsive experience. Additionally, MotionFlow, a feature, reduces blur even in fast-moving scenes.
To truly experience the smart home, connect this TV to Google Assistant and other Android products.
This TV, like all the others on the list, is incredibly easy to set up and put together and has 4K capabilities.
It has an Amazon Fire built-in and is compatible with Alexa devices. According to reviews, this TV is of a very high calibre and represents a great deal of value.
In reality, a lot of these products are very similar. Despite the fact that this can be confusing, it increases consumer choice and guarantees that no matter what brand you prefer to buy, there will be a smart TV option for you.
Smart tv guide for dummies: Final Thoughts
Without using any external devices, you can stream content and connect to the Internet using a smart TV. Whatever brand you favour, there’s a good chance they produce a smart TV you’ll adore.
With a Roku, Amazon Fire, or other streaming stick, a smart TV setup isn’t all that different from a standard TV setup. One of these services is the best option if you don’t want to commit to a smart TV just yet. Smart TVs will spread and drop in price as technology develops.