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Smart TVs: How do Smart TVs work?

Tamires Criscio
Tamires Criscio
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 11th February 2021

Are you looking to buy a Smart TV and are really confused about what is the best one for you? Latest Deals is here to help! This guide tells you what a Smart TV is and how to find the best Smart TV deals. Learn everything you need to know about Smart TVs and make a decision today.

What is a Smart TV? 

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Smart TVs are televisions that can connect to the internet and to other devices, such as your mobile phone. Today, most modern televisions are Smart TVs, but some of them can do more than others. The more a Smart TV can do, the more expensive it will be. Usually, you can find a Smart TV from £200. Add more features and a Smart TV could cost as much as £2,000.

The importance of the Smart TV System 

At first glance, it seems like all Smart TVs available today can do the same things, but they can be very different. They will all stream some free, paid video apps, but there is much more than that. When you are thinking about buying a Smart TV, the most important thing you need to take into account is which Smart TV System is built-in. This system is crucial to determine how connected your Smart TV can be to other devices and applications. Below we talk about some of the most well-known Smart TV Systems: 

Smart TV Systems 

  • Amazon Fire TV: this Smart TV has instant access to Amazon’s services, and it comes with an Alexa built-in. If you are an Amazon Prime Video subscriber, this can be a good option for you. 
  • Android TV: this Smart TV comes with Google Play Store and Google Assistant. You already have access to Chromecast and can stream apps from your phone, if it’s an Android as well. Most Smart TVs are Android TVs. 
  • Roku TV: This comes with both Alexa and Google Assistant. It also comes with other channels exclusive to Roku. 
  • Tizen: This is exclusive to Samsung Smart TVs with high-end technology. You can get Alexa and Google Assistant, but only if you have a separate device. This is because Tizen has its own voice assistant: Bixby. If you have other Samsung Smart appliances, you can control all of them with this system. This also allows you to control lights, locks and thermostats. 
  • WebOS: This is exclusive to LG Smart TVs with high-end technology. It also comes with its own voice assistant: ThinQ. You can get Alexa and Google Assistant also without the need of a separate device.

There are other Smart TV Systems available in the market, but these five are the biggest ones. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Just like your smartphone, laptop and tablet, your Smart TV will also have software updates, which is great for keeping up with new trends and features. If you want to make sure you get a TV that will last you longer, invest in one that is produced by a big manufacturer, which will have more interest in keeping its products updated. In addition, some crashes might occur with your Smart TV, just like with your smartphone, laptop or tablet.

How does a Smart TV connect to the internet?

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A Smart TV will connect to the internet just like a laptop would do. You can use either wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi. In another article, we explained why it’s better to use a wired connection to get a stronger signal and better quality. To use your Smart TV hassle-free, we recommend using a wired connection, this will allow you to stream better. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: A Smart TV can be hacked, so you will need to have the same level of security you have with any other device that connects to the internet. Also, a Smart TV can monitor you, the same as your smartphone, tablet or laptop does, collecting data about your online activities to use it to promote ads, for example.

What does a Smart TV do? 

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A Smart TV will be able to receive a cable signal, and you can get a TV package with some of the biggest providers in the UK, such as Sky and BT. Besides that, you can do lots of other things with a Smart TV, some of them are: 

  • Stream videos from paid apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Apple TV, Disney Plus, and others. 
  • Stream videos from free apps like YouTube, Pluto TV, Rakuten TV, Plex TV, and others.
  • Play video games. 
  • Listen to music, podcasts and audiobooks. 
  • Browse the internet.
  • Check social media channels. 
  • Control connected devices such as lights, thermostats and locks around the house.
  • Get connected to Alexa and Google Home for voice recognition control. In some cases, the TV comes with its own assistant. 

Does a Smart TV have a better picture or sound?

Not necessarily. You can find cheaper models with average picture and sound quality and more expensive ones. It will depend on how much money you want to spend. At the moment, most of the new TV devices sold in the world are Smart TVs. They come with different options regarding picture and sound quality.

Smart TV Picture Information

Ideally, the best picture you can get today is 4K, which is the best resolution widely available at the moment for home consumption.

Smart TV Sound Information

When it comes to sound, the best sound you should get is Dolby Atmos. This is the clearest sound widely available at the moment for general consumption. You can learn more about Dolby Atmos here.

How do I turn my TV into a Smart TV? 

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If you don’t want to spend money buying a new Smart TV, you can turn your older TV into one. For that, you need to buy a device called a TV stick. Basically, this is a small set that you plug into your TV via the HDMI port. 

The only thing you need to make sure you can turn your TV into a Smart TV is an HDMI entry on your old TV set. There are many models of TV sticks. Some of the best ones are Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Now TV Stick and Roku TV Stick. Apple also has a device to turn your TV into a Smart one, called Apple TV. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Now TV is one of the most difficult apps to find widely available on Smart TVs, this is because Now TV sells its own stick, where you can get access to the app. If you are willing to invest a bit more, you can find it on more expensive Smart TVs.

How does a Smart TV compare to TV Sticks (Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Now TV, Roku) and Apple TV? Is it better to buy a smart TV or get a TV Stick/Apple TV? 

TV Sticks are pretty similar to a Smart TV, and they can be cheaper. If you already have a modern TV that unfortunately is not “smart” yet, getting one of these devices can be a cheaper option costing less than £100, while a Smart TV will cost you at least £200.

 Keep in mind that Apple TV is more expensive, and it will cost you around £150, which might not be worth it. Some of them will require you to use your smartphone or tablet to control your TV, which can be a disadvantage. If you are buying a new TV, it will probably be a Smart TV. 

If I get a Smart TV, do I still need to get a Cable TV Package? 

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Nowadays it’s very common to see more and more people trying to cut costs and cancelling their TV Cable Package. The “internet TV” is mostly free and growing. Today, if you buy a Smart TV, you don’t necessarily need to get a Cable TV Package. You will be able to watch all the content with free and paid streaming apps without any difficulty. The only problem is that if you want to watch Live TV, you still have to pay for a TV licence in the UK. Most TV providers in the UK also give you the freedom to buy monthly passes, mainly for sports channels. Check out some options from Sky and BT. 

Does a Smart TV need a Cable TV Box? 

No, a Smart TV does not need a Cable TV Box. You only need a good and strong broadband connection with at least a download speed of 60 to 70 Mbps. A Smart TV will come with an aerial entry to allow you to connect to an aerial cable, but you don’t need to.

 You will have most of the channels available via streaming applications. As long as you can access the app, you will be able to stream the content. Some applications can have limited content, and you may not find all the channels you want. 

Can I use my smart TV with Amazon Alexa or Google Home?

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Today one of the biggest trends in technology is smart speakers. The two biggest ones are Alexa and Google Home, which comes with Google Assistant. With them, you can control many things only by using your voice. If your Smart TV comes with either Alexa or Google Assistant built-in (sometimes both), you will only be able to control your TV using your voice and all the applications it comes with. Some of the examples are : 

“Play the latest episode of How to get away with murder on Netflix.”

“Play the second season of Outlander on Amazon Prime Video.” 

“Play Game of Thrones on Now TV.” 

“Open browser.” 

“Switch over to HDMI.”

“Mute the volume.”

“Put the volume up.” 

“Put the volume down.” 

“Turn off after this episode.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on the Smart TV System of your choice, you may or may not have smart speakers. If you have them, you might need a separate device. If you want to be able to use these features, check them out before buying your new Smart TV. 

Smart TV: what you'll need before buying one 

Before you buy a Smart TV, you need to know that you need a good internet connection. We have an article explaining how to choose the best broadband deal for you, which will tell you what is a good internet connection to use your Smart TV without any problems with buffering. 

We recommend getting a plan with at least 60 to 70 Mbps as download speed. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do keep in mind that just because you are paying for a Smart TV and maybe opting out of having or getting a Cable TV package, you still need to pay for most of the streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and others. This can add to your monthly TV expenses.
Having a Smart TV that gives you access to “internet TV” is not all about free content. Check out more information about Paid Streaming Apps and Free Streaming Apps to see how much you could potentially be spending per month and what you can watch for free.

Which Smart TV to buy? Step by step process on how to buy a Smart TV that will be perfect for you! 

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STEP #1 Define your budget 

The first step is to define how much money you are willing to spend on a new Smart TV. You will need a minimum of £200 and the maximum amount you can spend is almost limitless. If you know how much you can afford, you can limit your options and get closer to the perfect Smart TV for you! 

STEP #2 Define what you want 

Then you need to define what you want on your Smart TV. We recommend listing all the streaming apps you are planning to access and if you want it with Alexa or Google Assistant. Also, you need to define what picture and sound quality you are looking for.

 Don’t forget to think about the size, the biggest ones are not always the best option, as you need to have a certain distance from your sofa or bed to be able to enjoy it fully. Last but not least, you need to think about the brand you want. If you have a preferred brand, this can also make things much easier. 

STEP #3 Compare online 

The next step is to compare online, now you know what you want, you will need to search for it online. You can use some of the criteria mentioned above, but always start within your budget, as you don’t want to feel tempted to spend more money than you can afford. 

STEP #4 Read reviews before buying 

If you have a few Smart TVs that you like, make sure you read all the reviews you can. The more reviews you read, the more certain you will be about your investment and what to expect. 

STEP#5 Wait for a sale 

If the price is good and within your budget, you can go ahead and purchase your new Smart TV. If not, wait for a sale. If you are not in a hurry, you can even wait for Black Friday or Boxing Day, the best days to buy more expensive electronics. 

Smart TV: 5 tips to buy the perfect Smart TV for you

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Now that you know the Step by Step process, we have 5 more tips to give you! 

TIP #1 Content availability 

The more apps you get access to, the better. Some Smart TVs come with restricted apps, and you won’t be able to watch Now TV, for example, without an extra TV Stick. Make sure you check which apps are available and if there is an app store. 

TIP #2 Usability 

The user interface needs to be simple. Your Smart TV should be super easy to navigate, so make sure you check how other users are feeling about it by reading reviews.

TIP #3 Content recommendations

Your Smart TV can give you recommendations as the more you use it, the more it learns about your tastes and preferences. Get a Smart TV that has a system that is constantly learning about you and what you like. 

TIP #4 Voice commands 

The era of remote controls is finally coming to an end. What previously revolutionised watching television, is now outdated. If you want to be part of what is coming and how people are going to live in the future, get a TV with either Alexa or Google Assistant. 

TIP #5 Connectivity 

You also want a Smart TV that will be able to connect to other devices and gadgets. If you already have a high-tech house, your TV can be the control centre.

Summary: To buy or not to buy a Smart TV? 

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If you are still not sure if you should buy or not a Smart TV, we have two quick tips: 

  • If you are buying a new TV, get a Smart TV. 
  • If you already have a modern TV, but that doesn’t have access to most of the streaming apps you want, get a TV Stick. 

FAQ 

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What do you think of this?
kmulligan
kmulligan15 days ago

Being quite clueless on smart tvs, I must say that I've learnt more by reading this article than any other advice I've been given by friends, etc.. Thank you.

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tamirescriscio
tamirescriscio
LD Team
8 days ago

kmulligan thank you so much for this kind comment. I am more than happy to help. Let me know if you have any questions and if you are buying or bought a smart TV lately. 🙂

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