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Your Guide to Smart TVs

What is a smart TV? Tech Talker walks you through the realm of smart TVs and why you should consider buying one.

By
Eric Escobar,
May 15, 2013
Episode #077

 

Tech Talker Listener Michael posted a question on the Tech Talker Facebook page about smart TVs that I thought would make for a great podcast. In fact, there’s so much to say about this topic that I’m going to split this episode into two parts. This week I will discuss smart TVs and next week I will walk you through how to make your dumb TV into a smart TV.

Sponsor: This episode is sponsored by Shutterstock.com. With over 20 million high-quality stock photos, illustrations, vectors and video clips, Shutterstock helps you take your creative projects to the next level. For 30% off your new account, go to Shutterstock.com and use offer code techtalker5

What Is a Smart TV?

So what exactly is a smart TV? Well the term “smart” in front of any form of technology generally means that the device is linked to the internet. Think about your smartphone that can access your email, the, web, GPS, and other functionalities that require internet connectivity. That is exactly what a smart TV is, a TV that is connected to your home’s internet whether it be wireless or wired.

You’re probably wondering, “Well that’s great and all, Tech Talker, but what good is my TV being hooked up to the internet?”

Well as TVs have evolved over the years, they have generally become lighter and slimmer. I talked about this in my episode on the difference between plasma and LCD TVs. The next wave in TV technology is this addition of the internet. Basically a dumb TV is nothing more than a screen that receives an input from another device such as a DVD player, satellite dish, DVR, cable, you get the picture.

The addition of the internet gives you a ton of features that you might recognize from your smartphone or tablet. I won’t go in to any specific brands, but most smart TVs will have a dashboard with apps. These apps can be used to do a number of things that you previously could only do on a computer or a tablet.

See also: How Does Your Smartphone Communicate?

How to Use a Smart TV

For example, if you had a Netflix account or Pandora, you could use these apps on your TV. This means you can easily stream a movie from Netflix without having to rent one. Or if you were having a party, you could be using your televisions speaker system to play music with Pandora.

Here are a few more apps I’m sure you’re familiar with that will actually be installed on most smart TVs by default: Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN, and others.

And there is a much wider selection of these apps that you’d be able to find if you dig into the manufacturer’s website. Not to play favorites, but I am pretty impressed with Samsung’s smart TVs because of how well they work alongside Samsung’s tablet, the Galaxy Tab. I’m sure as these smart TVs evolve, we will see them integrating mobile devices even more seamlessly.

Aside from some killer apps, what else might make a smart TV appealing? Well for one, some smart TVs will allow you to play 3D movies. At this point, 3D movies are pretty polarizing – come people love them, some hate them. However, they are certainly gaining popularity, and if they’re your cup of tea, a smart TV might be a necessity.

Next, some smart TVs will come with a double-sided remote. One side looks like a normal remote and the other side has a full keyboard and touch-pad. This makes browsing the internet and apps a breeze. I’ve also seen many smart TVs that can even use voice commands and hand gestures to control what’s happening onscreen!

Another feature I’d like to point out is the intelligence of some smart TVs available today. The smartest ones will actually learn your habits, what you like to watch, and when you most frequently watch TV. From there, they will analyze your data and make suggestions to you based upon your interests. This is an interesting concept, which if you have trouble finding something to watch, could really help you out!

The last feature (and probably my favorite) is the ability for a Smart TV to play other content on your home’s network. Once configured, most smart TVs will allow you to play content from your mobile device or computer directly on the TV screen. Trust me when I say that it is much easier to show a room full of people that hilarious cat video on a 55-inch screen compared to your 5-inch smartphone!

Have I sold you on the idea of a smart TV yet? But before you go out and buy the latest and greatest smart TV model, check out next week’s Tech Talker where I’ll talk about media centers. It’s been a long-time hobby of mine to take old computers and transform them into a media center that can blow a killer smart TV out of the water!

With that, here are your 4 Quick and Dirty Tips on smart TVs:

  1. Smart TVs connect to the internet and have access to additional content.

  2. Many of these TVs will have a wide selection of apps, just like your computer or mobile device.

  3. After analyzing your viewing habits, a smart TV might be able to give you suggestions for other content you might like.

  4. Smart TVs will let you play video from other devices connected to your home’s network.

Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!

Watching TV image from Shutterstock

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