Smart TV has brought a revolution to what we have looked towards Televisions so far. They are quite in demand and have heavily affected the traditional TV’s market. This post will discuss what is Smart TV, how it works, its types, advantages, disadvantages and various factors to be considered while buying a Smart TV.
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What Does a Smart TV Do Which a Regular TV or Phone Does Not
Let’s Understand this with some practical example. There are times when we want the Television to air what we want to watch. Since the program queue is not decided by us, we can feel somewhat disappointed, not wanting to watch what is being aired. One can argue that the present day, with wish wide usage of dish antenna, you can order and schedule the movies you want to watch. Or better, you can catch the same online and anytime, at your convenience.
Let’s consider the 1st option – You have a DTH connection and you ordered a movie to be aired at a time suitable to you. You made the payment. On the ‘D’ day, some urgency came and you are required to travel out of town. You miss the show you had planned and paid for. Many will agree that this does indeed happen. Many other situations can arise that can lead to your best laid plans go awry.
To avail 2nd option i.e. accessing your movie through phone, you need to look at the very small screen of your mobile or a somewhat larger screen of your laptop (though, not as large as your TV screen). Research has indicated that spending long hours at a stretch in front of such screens affect eyesight and body posture negatively. Furthermore, such viewing time has less probability of being enjoyed with others.
Fig. 1 – Access Videos on Demand Anytime with Smart TV
This is where the importance and necessity of Smart TV comes. Now, imagine a situation where you have a Television that is connected to the internet and allows you access to programs of your choice, at a time when you want to. That is the basic SMART TV or Connected TV or Hybrid TV.
What is Smart TV
A Smart TV is a television set that has connects to the internet and allows the users to use services like video streaming, web browsing / surfing or even gaming.
Smart TV allows access to traditional electronic media (regular television channels) along with online interactive media and ‘Over The Top’ (OTT) content. It also allows home networking solutions such that all devices and be interconnected and be operated with a single click.
Some of the more popular apps that you, the user can have access to, via a Smart TV, include Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon.
Fig. 2 – Online Apps for Video Streaming in Smart TV
How Does Smart TV Work
The focus of traditional TV software was to put pictures on the screen by tuning the tuner and decoding the broadcast signals. Smart TV has an added ability of being able to load / access extra content that comes from the internet.
In Layman’s terms, if you have a TV, a set-top box and an internet connection, you can integrate all three in a way that allows you to access internet based content on your television set.
Practically, the Smart TV is like a computer except you cannot write. Many Smart TV has Ethernet connection and/ or allows access via Wi-Fi also. Smart TV platforms have a Software Development Kit (SDK) or a Native Development Kit (NDK) which allows 3rd party developers to create applications for it, irrespective of the hardware manufacturer. These applications can then be installed and uninstalled by the users to access online content bypassing traditional media platforms.
Smart TVs can access and deliver content (like photos or movies or music) from other connected devices through technology like that of LAN. Smart TV also provides access to internet-based services like Video-on-Demand (VOD), Electronic Advertising, Gaming, Social Networking and multimedia applications to name a few.
Types of Smart TV
Smart TVs can be categorized by:
- Display Technology
- Software Platform
On the basis of Resolution, a Smart TV may be categorized into 4K Ultra HD, Full HD and HD.
The 4K Ultra HD technology has 2160 px resolution which is 4 times better resolution than that of the Full HD TVs. Therefore, the 4K Ultra HD offers more clarity with detailed images.
Fig. 3 – Different Types of Resolutions in Smart TV
This level of resolution provides the liberty to sit close to the TV and enjoy the fully immersive experience, as opposed to regular televisions. This technology can upscale the existing HD content thereby making the images sharper.
Full HD is 1080 px resolution. This resolution is high enough to allow an excellent viewing experience. It is possible watch Blu Ray movies on Full HD televisions, without any deterioration of picture quality.
On the basis of Display Technology, Smart TVs may be categorized into LCD, LED and OLED Smart TVs.
In either case the screen of the Smart TV is LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). LED or Light Emitting Diodes, on the other hand, is the light source and is considered a great choice for all kinds of lighting conditions.
Fig. 4 – LED and OLED Display Technology
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diodes and it offers an extremely high degree of color accuracy. OLED technology allows a wider viewing angle and blur-free pictures as each of the millions of pixels is individually illuminated. This technology can be used to design extremely thin TV screens.
Software Platforms of Smart TV
Software Platforms are also considered as key factor for categorizing Smart TVs. While there are certain aspects that are common, each manufacturer prefers to use their own software platform. The most common platforms are :
- LG Web OS: This OS is well known for its speed. This software platform is compatible with Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, and other similar content hubs. It is not easy to customize but it quite popular.
- Samsung Tizen: This OS is quite like the Web OS in appearance but can be customized more easily. Navigation through Tizen is also easier. The roots of the OS lie in smartphones, the Tizen OS is compatible with wider variety of content hubs including i-Player and ITV Player.
- Firefox OS: Firefox OS is available only on Panasonic TVs. Firefox OS, better known for colorful pop-up icons, is one of the easiest OS to customize. It is compatible with a large variety of apps like Netflix and YouTube among others.
- Android OS: A large proportion of people in the world are comfortable with Android because of the use of this technology in smartphones. This OS is very easy to customize and navigate and is compatible with apps like Netflix and YouTube. Android OS is also most suited for gaming. One of the most well known brands, Sony, uses this OS on its TVs.
Advantages of Smart TV
The advantages of Smart TV include:
- Access to a large amount of Content : Be it pre-saved or live streaming, availability of video-content is the key success of Smart TV. This therefore allows you to watch even the latest movies that got released over the weekend; as well as movies released during our parent’s time.
- Watch what you want, when you want : On-demand video-content, that can be watched at a time suitable to you is one of the key advantages and usage of Smart TV.
- Customized Search, with or without Voice Search Capability : With the help of the Global listings, you, the viewer can search programs and schedule their timings as per own suitability. Alexa, a recent development, allows voice search which lets you skip the search menu to identify the content you are looking for.
- Universal Mobile Control : The remote of the Smart TV is designed to control all connected devices.
- Games : Smart TV permits the access of a large variety of games that are compatible to the software platform on which the TV is based.
Disadvantages of Smart TV
The disadvantages of Smart TV include:
- Security : As with any connected device there are concerns about the security as your viewing habits and practices are accessible to anybody searching for that information. Concerns about theft of personal data also looms large. Some other major concerns are related to the recording via camera and mic of happenings in the house. Coupled with facial recognition, Smart TV is likely to cause certain amount of worry among many.
- Cost : Smart TVs are also heavy on the pocket as most manufacturers operates on a value proposition currently.
- Slow Response with Heavy Load : Sometimes, the smart TV has slow response like that of Smart phones due to excessive load.
- Dependency on Internet : As updates for software and programs are being frequently generated, the smart TV needs regular updation for correct functioning.
Factors to Consider While Buying a Smart TV
With the advent of newer technology, Smart TVs are here to stay. If you walk into electronics store today, you are likely to come across more Smart TV options than regular TV. With growing demand, the price is likely to drop thereby increasing the usage significantly.
Fig. 5 – Wide Range of Options Available in Smart TV
So, what are the factors that you should consider while buying a Smart TV? Assuming that no premeditated brand distinction is made, purchase decision is affected by:
- Size – The screen size should be 40 inches or above to ensure proper viewing experience with a Smart TV.
- Resolution or Picture Clarity – 4K Ultra HD coupled with OLED display provides the best picture quality.
- Software Platform – While choosing the software platform, make sure that the platform is compatible with your other devices, especially your Smart Phone. It should also support the widest range of features possible. Further, You should also check about what inbuilt apps it is providing and provision to add your favorite apps from store is available or not.