What is a Smart TV
As I mentioned earlier, a Smart TV is a TV that can connect to Internet; the first Smart TVs could do it via a network cable but, for several years, all those in circulation have been equipped with a card Wi-Fi and can safely connect to wireless networks.
I know it may surprise you, but these devices are real computers with various applications and complete operating systems, such as Android TV (TV version of the famous operating system for smartphones and tablets). If you want, therefore, by purchasing a Smart TV, you can install apps such as Netflix and YouTube and enjoy all their contents, access the photos and videos that you have shared on your Wi-Fi network and, in some cases, even play or interface with your mobile.
How to choose a Smart TV
How do you say? Were you struck by the potential of Smart TVs and now you are even more curious to know their characteristics in detail? Well, then let me give you some information that may be useful for you to choose the most suitable Smart TV for you.
Size and resolution
Although there are many aspects of a Smart TV, the first things you will have to consider, in the face of a new purchase, are certainly the dimensions and resolution.
- Sizes - decide where you want to place your new Smart TV and consider its size based on the space you have available. The width of the screen of a Smart TV is measured in inch (a small number accompanied by two quotes; for example, 55 ″ reads fifty-five inches): the more they are, the bigger the screen will be. One inch corresponds to about two and a half centimeters; if you are already measuring the space at your disposal, consider that many meters to measure also report the dimensions in inches: you will find them with the words inch o inches. Almost all modern Smart TVs have a very small frame (ie a border that surrounds the screen) or some do not have it at all; however, if you're designing your space down to the millimeter, keep that in mind too.
- Resolution - now that you have chosen the size of your TV, let's move on to its resolution; this word indicates how many pixel it can hold the screen: in simple terms, the higher the resolution of the Smart TV the better the picture quality. Currently on the market you will find mainly three types of resolutions: HD Ready (1280 × 720 pixels, i.e. 1280 pixels vertically and 720 vertically), Full HD o FHD (1920×1080 pixel) e Ultra HD o UHD which are available in 4K (3840 × 2160 pixels) or 8K (7680 × 4320 pixels). In general, Smart TVs with Ultra HD resolution are the best, albeit a bit expensive. Keep in mind, however, that if you have very fast ADSL, a subscription for 4K streaming (be it Netflix, TIMVision or other) or a gaming device capable of playing 4K (such as PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X for example), opting for this type of Smart TV will be a pleasure for the eyes. I feel instead of advising you against the HD Ready resolution, which is abundantly outdated and costs only slightly lower than Full HD. The 8K, on the other hand, is still too advanced and expensive as a technology to justify the purchase of such a TV (unless you have very specific needs and a large budget.
Have you noticed terms like OLED, LCD o Quantum Dot in the description of the various Smart TVs and are you scared? Rest assured: they are simply the technologies that i are built with panels of the various televisions. Below I will briefly explain the characteristics of each of them.
- Plasma - is one of the first technologies used for "flat" screens. It heats up the TV a lot and consumes a lot of energy. I advise you not to orient yourself on this purchase: today there is better on the market at a great price.
- LCD e LED - are the two most used technologies. They are very similar and differ only in the type of backlight used: LCDs use fluorescent lamps, LED TVs are LCDs that replace LEDs for these small lamps. Precisely for this reason, LED screens are much thinner than LCDs and consume less energy.
- OLED - is the evolution of LED technology, these panels are optimized for energy saving: instead of "creating" the black color using the backlight, OLEDs can turn off the pixels. In this way you get even more blacks and the energy consumption will be lower.
- Quantum Dot - it is a technology used by some manufacturers, for example Samsung, for high-mid-range Smart TVs: it uses small crystals to define colors even better. When these crystals are illuminated, they are able to recreate more shades of color than traditional panels, approaching the flexibility of OLEDs.
- Curved display - you may have noticed that some Smart TVs have a literally "folded" panel. This type of display makes the Smart TV seem larger (taking advantage of some defects in human sight) and more engaging. But be careful: to fully enjoy a curved display you have to position yourself exactly in the center. Before opting for such a purchase, try it out in some electronics chain.
The first generation Smart TVs were only equipped with an input for the Ethernet cable; most televisions in circulation today, however, are equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. Pay close attention to this detail and choose the device that best suits your needs: if you don't want too many wires around the house, I suggest you check for this wireless connection. Otherwise, if you want even more performance from your network, you have a way to keep the wires tidy and you have the option to wire an ethernet cable or use a ready-made one, you can save a few euros by buying a Smart TV without Wi-Fi.
Just like computers and smartphones, there are several other features you might be looking for in a Smart TV. Below I will list the most important ones.
- Slot CI+ (Common Interface Plus) - is the entrance where you can insert the CAM, that is the device that allows you to read the smart card to access services such as Mediaset Premium. Be careful, as in some cheap Smart TVs this interface is missing.
- HDR - several high-end televisions support this type of technology. It allows you to display more shades of shadows and lights on the screen than TVs that do not have them.
- Inputs - before buying a new Smart TV, think carefully about the type of devices you want to connect to it and make sure you have enough inputs. For example, to connect a Blu-Ray player and a TV Box at the same time you need at least 2 inputs HDMI. Also consider the presence of USB ports, which you can use to connect discs and USB sticks. Finally, if you want to equip your TV with a top of the range home theater or other types of audio systems, make sure that there is a 'optical audio output.
- Energy consumption - TVs often stay on for a long time, so having an energy-saving one helps keep your electricity bill low. The consumption of TVs currently on the market ranges from class A +++ (the best) alla class D (the worst).
- DLNA, Miracast, Google Cast e AirPlay - if you have read my guide on how to connect the mobile phone to the TV, you know that to connect the phone to the TV wirelessly and transmit content, the Smart TV must support at least one of the protocols Miracast, DLNA, G o AirPlay. The latter two protocols are integrated only in the most modern Smart TVs, especially in the high-end ones. If not, you can still pair a Chromecast or Apple TV respectively to make these two protocols available on your Smart TV.
Operating systems for Smart TV
As I told you in the introductory chapter, you can treat a Smart TV as if it were a computer. On new generation televisions there is a operating system ready to perform the necessary tasks.
Not all Smart TVs have the same operating system: it depends on the choices of the manufacturer and the price range of the TV itself. To have a wide availability of apps and functions, you need to choose a complete and, possibly, widely used operating system. Below you will find a list of the most interesting ones currently available in the market.
- Android TV - does the name sound familiar to you? It's exactly how you think: Google has customized Android to work on TVs too! Android TV is an operating system very similar to the one found on smartphones and tablets. Despite this, this system has been simplified and made more "comfortable" to be used with the remote control. On Android TV you can install the Android app and updates via Google Play, the system is prepared for the use of voice commands and provides the ability to control the TV via Android smartphone or tablet. Furthermore, Android TV fully supports the protocol G: this means that the TV has the same features and the same potential as the Chromecast (if you've never heard of it, I suggest you read my guide on how Chromecast works). Compared to the others, Android TV is certainly the most complete, flexible and customizable television platform. You can find Android TVs on many top-of-the-line TVs (especially Sony's).
- Samsung Smart Hub - you will find this operating system on some Samsung Smart TVs. This platform is quite complete, supports many apps, is updated often and is fully compatible with both Samsung smartphones and Samsung products oriented to the home video market (for example Blu-Ray players), as well as with smartphones and tablets. of all major brands.
- Tizen - this operating system has a very long and complicated history: it is based on Linux and was meant for smartphones, but things did not go exactly the right way. After being developed by several companies, Tizen has passed into the hands of Samsung and is now present on part of its TV sets (but also on some Samsung smartwatches and on the Z4 smartphone). Tizen is a complete platform that offers a very rich app store and the ability to take advantage of the Miracast protocol.
- LG webOS - after Android TV and Samsung systems, WebOS is one of the most complete systems for LG Smart TVs. It has a large app store at its disposal (which includes names like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video, Infinity and others), it is very practical to use via the remote control and above all it is extremely fast.
- Other operating systems - some TVs come with a proprietary operating system that can run apps and set up your TV better.
How to use a Smart TV
So far I've given you some useful information, but now it's time to get your hands on the remote control and figure out how to perform some simple operations (connecting to the Internet, installing apps and accessing files on the network) on one Smart TV. For this part I will use a television with a proprietary operating system LG controlled with its remote, but rest assured: the mechanisms are also similar on Smart TVs from other brands with other operating systems. I assure you you will have no problem repeating the procedures on a different operating system.
Smart TV WiFi: how it works
Connecting the Smart TV to the Internet is really simple. First, press the button Settings remote control (on LG TVs it has the shape of a gear). Then, using the arrows, bring yourself to the item All settings and presses the button OK remote control.
Now choose the item relating to the network connection (eg. Network) from the panel and select the option Wifi connection. At this point, press the button Activate, to start scanning for nearby available networks. What you need to do is simply select your home network and enter the password to access it.
After a few seconds, you will finally be connected to the Internet and you will be able to access all the smart content supported by your TV, including apps and multimedia files hosted by computers, NAS and other devices connected to the local network.
Smart TV: how it works without WiFi
If your Smart TV does not have Wi-Fi functionality or you simply do not have a wireless network available to connect to, know that you can use your TV anyway. I remind you, however, that all Smart features, such as installing apps or their operation, web browsing and all those tools that require an active Internet connection will not work.
For this reason, a Smart TV without an Internet connection will allow you to access TV channels, as the signal is received by the antenna, and to perform some local functions, such as playing files on a USB stick.
Instead of the wireless link, you can still use that Ethernet, using a LAN cable. In general, you do not need to carry out any particular configuration on the Smart TV, other than simply connect one end of the LAN cable in the appropriate input port behind the panel, while the other in the modem / router port.
If the latter is close to the Smart TV, you can make a direct connection. If it is in another room, however, you can consider using gods Powerline, devices that allow you to extend the Internet connection from one room to another, using the domestic electrical system. Some of these devices even allow you to bring the Wi-Fi signal to areas of the house where that of the modem / router does not reach.
Smart TV: how to use the internet
When your Smart TV is connected to the Internet, it can perform several functions. For example, if you have installed uses (which I'll tell you about in the next chapter) that allow you to see multimedia content, such as YouTube, Netflix o Prime Video, you simply have to start them from the screen Home of the TV, which usually hosts all the installed applications and the default features of the Smart TV.
You can also use the Smart TV for browse the web, using the pre-installed app for browsing the Internet - all you have to do is select the icon Browser from the screen Home, wait for the start screen to load and use the bar at the top to search the web or type the URL of the site you want to visit.
An active internet connection is also important to keep your Smart TV and apps up to date. In fact, when you launch an app, you will be notified of a new update, if available. By pressing the appropriate button that appears on the screen, you will be directed to its card on the digital store, through which you can update it.
Updates to the TV's operating system are also notified to you whenever they are available, as long as the Smart TV is always connected to the Internet. In this case, by pressing on the appropriate notification that will be shown on the TV screen, you will be able to access the appropriate section to perform the system update which, in most cases, require a restart of the TV.
Install the apps
As pointed out in previous chapters, application support is one of the most important features of Smart TVs. The applications are those that give access to services such as Netflix, Infinity etc., allow you to communicate on social networks and allow you to access information of various kinds (eg weather forecasts or the latest news).
To access the menu with the apps installed on the TV, just press the button Home (usually marked with a house icon) or the button Smart TV (which may have various “icons”, depending on the model). To install new apps, on the main screen of the Smart TV, you need to reach the icon (or tab) relating to the virtual store. Eg, LG Content Store is the official store of LG Smart TVs with WebOS.
To download an app, such as Netflix or YouTube, all you have to do is select the icon of the one you want to install, in order to open its detailed tab. Alternatively, you can use the appropriate search engine to type the name of the app and check if it is present in the store. Next, you just have to press the button Install, to start the automatic app download and installation procedure.
At this point, to start the newly installed application, from the screen Home of the Smart TV, select the icon of the app in question and that's it! Not sure which apps you can download for your Smart TV? You will find many ideas in my article dedicated to Smart TV apps.
Smart TV: how it works without an antenna
If you have problems receiving the television signal via antenna, you can still watch your favorite TV channels with your Smart TV. How? By using theIPTV. If you are new to this technology, know that it consists in watching television using the TCP / IP protocol.
In other words, the content of the television channels is broadcast on the Internet and, through a special client installed on the Smart TV, can be viewed in real time. If you want to learn more about the IPTV topic, which you can also use on other electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets and computers, I suggest you read my guide dedicated to the subject.
If, on the other hand, you want to get more details on the use of IPTV on Smart TVs, all you have to do is install a special app. I told you about it in detail in my guide on how to install IPTV on Smart TV.
Access files on the network
To access files over the network, a server DLNA. Don't you know what it is? I advise you to carefully read my article on how to connect smartphone to TV: I explained it to you in detail. Have you configured your server? Optimal. Now to see the files on the network from your TV, all you have to do is press the button several times Sources on the remote control, until the icon is selected Network.
Wait a few seconds and you will see the list of files shared on your network appear, which you can play or view directly from your TV.
On other types of Smart TVs, you can achieve the same result by turning on the main menu of the device (key Home) and calling up the menu related to multimedia files.
Which Smart TV to buy
Now that you understand what Smart TVs are and how they work, it's time to think about buying one. If you still feel undecided and need some advice, you can take a look at my guide on the best TVs to buy: here you will find, as well as many other information that can help you in your choice, also a selection of good quality Smart TVs.
Turn your TV into Smart TV
Are you telling me that you don't feel like spending a lot of money on this purchase but would like to transform a "simple" TV (which costs less and which you may already own) into a "smart" one? No problem: you can use a chromecast, Apple TV, an adapter Miracast or even one TV Box. These are all devices that certainly cost less than a new Smart TV!
Don't you know them and don't know which one to buy? No problem: follow my guide on how to turn TV into Smart TV and you will certainly find the solution that best suits you, complete with a step-by-step guide on how to install and configure it.Smart TV: how it works