Like televisions that have 4K Ultra HD resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR), smart TVs are the most popular in stores these days. And they are not only popular: as of today, they are practically the status quo. As an example, each model on our list of the best TVs you can buy is a smart TV. Even those on the list of the best TVs for less than $ 500 are also all "smart." Well, but are you really aware of all the benefits of a smart TV at home?
You may wonder before what makes one TV smarter than another, or what TVs are the smartest. We are here to answer these questions, and make sure you are well informed for your next purchase. Doing this task can make the difference between spending hundreds of dollars on a temporary solution, or choosing a TV that lasts for ten years, or more. Remember only one thing: however smart They sell it to you, you should always be smarter than your TV.
What makes a TV smart?
The main feature that separates smart TVs and not-so-smart TVs is the Internet connection. Almost all smart TVs come equipped with an Ethernet port and built-in Wi-Fi support, so they must be able to connect from anywhere in your home. Generally speaking, Wi-Fi should be fast enough for most purposes, but if you plan to play games in real time or 4K content, you may want to wire it to your network.
The Internet connection is mainly used to stream television programs and movies from a variety of applications and services, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO and YouTube (among others). Occasionally, there will be free material available (as in Crackle or Pluto TV), but for the most part, you should subscribe to these services to access their content. Many smart TVs also have built-in web browsers, although these are often difficult to handle and somewhat frustrating to navigate. Some even have cameras, for use with video conferencing applications such as Skype.
All about the Apps
A television is not very smart if its capabilities cannot be updated on time and always be up-to-date, so a smart TV platform with its own app store a lot of own and third-party apps to choose from is something to consider. At this time, Roku OS and Android TV lead the package with most applications. Roku, which refers to its applications as "channels," has thousands to choose from. Most of these are focused on content, with many subcategories such as sports, religion, philosophy, cars and more. Actually, there is something for everyone. Android TV also has them, but in smaller quantities, tending more to games and utilities. Samsung's Tizen and LG WebOS platforms also have a choice.
A single Rome; Many roads
Although all smart TVs are designed with the same goal in mind, not all work the same way. Each manufacturer uses a different operating system, with its own characteristics and peculiarities (although some systems, such as Roku TV, are already integrated into televisions of various manufacturers). Below, we show you a quick breakdown of the most frequent systems available.
|Samsung||Tizen||Tizen is extremely fast and automatically detect the devices you connect to the TV, labeling the inputs accordingly. In addition, you can control some devices connected to the TV remote control.|
|WebOS is extremely simple and fun to use, and supports motion controls with the included remote control.|
|Sony||Android TV||Sony smart TVs are compatible with Google Cast, with which you can project the content of your phone (or tablet) on your TV.|
|TCL||Roku OS||Roku OS is amazing. It presents a simple and clear navigation and the best search. In addition, it offers voice search.|
|Toshiba||Amazon Fire TV||In addition to the inclusion of the Amazon Video application, you will have access to Alexa, the Amazon assistant that will help you navigate your TV and control your smart home devices.|
Search by voice
For the most part, smart TV interfaces are designed to be simple and easy to use by anyone without training or tutorials. Even so, sometimes you simply don't want to hunt or peck, and that's where the voice search comes in.
A fairly common feature on the remotes of the newest smart TVs, voice search makes browsing a simple and one-click task, no matter what you're looking for. That said, certain platforms (such as Roku) offer more robust search tools than others, and remote control microphones do not always understand your voice or accent, so patience is important here.
But, the big question is what kind of commands can you handle? Here are some examples:
“Play the last episode of Lucifer on Netflix. ”“ Open Amazon Prime Video. ”“ Switch to HDMI 3. ”“ Mute the volume. ”“ Turn off the TV after this episode of The paper house".
Some high-end models come with integrated Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, which offer access to a much larger knowledge database. With one of them, you can not only tell the TV what to do, but also search the Internet for answers to the questions and find contextual information in your connected accounts, such as calendar events.
If your TV does not come with a voice remote control in the box, you can also access the voice search through a smart phone application or by connecting an Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Even more than a few years ago, today you will have a hard time finding a TV without – at least – some basic smart functions and streaming applications. This will be even more evident if you are looking to buy a TV of more than 40 inches of any brand. It is likely that a 24-inch TV from some unknown manufacturer does not have any intelligence (if you can find one), but, at this point in the game, most of the others will be (more or less) smarts
That said, not all smart TVs are the same. Maybe the TV you like doesn't have the best operating system, or maybe you don't have the money to buy a new smart screen. If so, decoders and transmission units are excellent alternatives, and offer virtually all the functions of a smart TV at a very affordable price. Roku products (such as Streaming Stick +) do an excellent job of turning “dumb” televisions into smart ones, just like Google Chromecasts and Amazon Fire devices.
If you wish to obtain more information about these devices streaming, consult our comparative guide.
* Article updated on February 21, 2020 by Mara Teresa Lopes.