Televisions have come a long way since their inception – from black and white to colour and from standard def to HD, they have truly evolved. And now, many of today’s TVs let you connect to the Internet so you can stream content, surf the web, and even make video calls. Welcome to the world of Smart TVs.
What is Smart TV?
The term “Smart TV” describes the ability of your television to connect to the internet using a wired or wireless connection to your home’s network. Not only will your Smart TV deliver your standard TV programs, but once you’re connected to your online world, you’ll be able to watch online movies and videos from Netflix or YouTube, access Facebook and Twitter, view your online photo albums, make Skype calls, play games, get real-time weather and news updates, and so much more.
The Smart TV Advantage
As you may have already gathered, a Smart TV keeps you connected to your digital world without having to leave your living room or entertainment area. No longer will your big screen be wasted display real estate. Consider it an extension of your computer, with its ability to perform functions that were once in the domain of laptops and other mobile devices. Check out some of the nifty tasks you can do with a
- Connect to your home network and share content from your mobile devices, like a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
- Multitask – watch videos, chat on Skype, compose emails, shop online, browse social media sites and run entertainment apps like on-demand video-rental services, internet music stations and web browsers.
- View online entertainment on the big screen by streaming a wide range of movies, videos and music from popular online services, such as Netflix and CinemaNow.
- Surf the internet using the Smart TV’s web browser.
- Use as a gaming device to play live web-based game.
- Control your Smart TV with your voice, hand motions, a mobile device or keyboard.
- Get content recommendations based on your viewing history.
- Customize the home screen with your favourite apps and programming, such as through widgets or screens you can actually wave through across the screen.
- Store movies and data on the TV itself or through a cloud server for extra storage.
One way to “smarten up” your existing TV is through media streaming devices. If you just want access to free and fee-based channels like Netflix, as well as apps, a Smart Blu-ray player, media streamer, gaming console or Apple TV can do the job.
Connecting your Smart TV
When you’re shopping for a Smart TV, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting the right one for your home. Some things to consider include:
- Ethernet port – choosing a Smart TV with an Ethernet port requires that you run a cable from your home’s router to the TV. A wired connection is generally more reliable and less likely to drop the signal when compared to a wireless connection.
- Built-in WiFi – if you have a wireless router that you use to access the internet in your home, then choosing a Smart TV with WiFi will make it a cinch to connect to your network without running a mess of cables to and from the router.
- Broadband internet connection – for streaming high-quality audio and video, a high-speed internet, commonly known as broadband internet, is ideal since it can deliver internet speeds of at least 200 kilobits per second (Kbps). This will allow you to do more things online, like downloading online entertainment, listening to digital radio and streaming smoother video without the buffering.
Whichever way you choose to get connected is completely up to you. Some people prefer the stability of a wired Ethernet connection, while others prefer the ease of getting connected via WiFi.
And Smart TVs aren’t just smart, some – but not all – are also loaded with some of best features you could ask for in a television including:
- Full HD resolution
- High 120Hz and higher refresh rates
- 3D video support
- Connectivity options including HDMI, PC, USB, and more
Once you’re connected to your home network, you’ll be greeted with a screen like this:
Keep in mind that how the screen looks and what’s on it will depend on the brand of Smart TV you choose. Samsung’s Smart Hub, Sony’s Entertainment Network, LG’s Smart TV Dashboard, or Sharp’s SmartCentral will all appear a little bit different, but one thing will remain the same: each one will be full of apps that will get you connected to movies, news, games, TV shows, Facebook, Picasa, Netflix, Skype, and more.
Smart TV apps are web-based programs that are similar to the apps you see on your smartphone or tablet. They’re designed specifically for your television and allow you to access web content. Most manufacturers even feature a link to their brand-specific app store where you can browse even more apps for your TV.
There are apps for everyone in the family too. Watch sporting events or the hottest movies on Netflix. View video clips on YouTube or catch the newest releases on CinemaNow. And for the kids, there are games, Facebook, Twitter, and more that will keep everyone entertained for hours.
The Complete Smart TV Experience
Your Smart TV will truly become the centrepiece of your living room. It gives you the power to get connected in so many ways, as well as enjoy an enhanced home theatre experience with a variety of accessories:
HDMI and PC Cables
One of the best things about a Smart TV is that many feature enough ports so you can get connected to other devices. HDMI ports let you connect to HD sources such as a Blu-ray player or home theatre system, while a PC port lets you plug into your computer or laptop and use the large screen as a computer monitor.
Want to chat with friends and family on the big screen? No problem. A Skype TV web camera and Skype app on your Smart TV are all you need to get connected. Most models feature a wide-angle lens so you can fit more family members on the screen, as well as built-in mics that will pick up your voices loud and clear.
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
A wireless keyboard and mouse might seem like an odd addition to your setup, but having these items next to your remote control will make it easier to navigate all your content and type messages with the same simplicity as you would on your computer. Just be sure your Smart TV has an available USB port for the transceiver.
If you’ve chosen a 3D compatible Smart TV, you’ll need to have a pair of 3D glasses in order to enjoy 3D content. It’ll take your entertainment experience into another dimension – literally.
For the ultimate viewing experience, add a Blu-ray player to your setup and you’ll be able to take full advantage of your Smart TV’s high-end specs. You’ll enjoy gorgeous videos and realistic HD sound from all your Blu-ray movies.
Home Theatre Systems
Great visuals are only half the equation. For the best entertainment experience, you’ll want to include a home theatre system so as you’re indulging in gorgeous eye candy, you’ll be surrounded by crisp, room-shaking sounds too.
Stands and Mounts
A TV stand or mount will help keep your Smart TV and all your other home theatre components neat and organized in your living room.
LG Smart TV Upgrader
If you don’t have a Smart TV, you can build one with LG’s Smart TV Upgrader. It works with any HDTV with an HDMI input, and is a cinch to use. Simply plug it in, get connected, and you’ll instantly have access to LG’s wide world of smart entertainment.
Take the Next Step
If you’re looking to do more with your television than simply watch TV, then a Smart TV could be just what you need. You’ll have the power to connect to your entire online world and access the latest movies, TV shows, news, weather, social network updates, and apps all from the comfort of your couch. Check out Best Buy’s wide selection online or in-store.