Smart TVs can be found in most homes across the country these days, but many people still don’t fully understand what a smart TV is and how it works. So, below, we’ve compiled all the information I have about smart TVs.

A smart TV is a television that connects to your home’s Internet to allow you to stream videos from various apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Disney Plus. You can also use a smart TV with a cable box, satellite dish, or TV antenna.

Smart TVs have tons of neat features that their owners are often unaware of, like free apps, sleep timers, and voice control. Keep reading to learn more about these features and how to use them.

Types of Smart TVs

There are many brands of smart TVs, with the top ones being:

Smart TVs come in all sizes. Some use their own smart TV platforms like Tizen by Samsung, while others use popular third-party interfaces such as Roku TV, Fire TV, or Android TV.

A smart TV comes with some apps already downloaded on it, plus hundreds of more apps that you can download for free. In this way, a smart TV is similar to a smartphone.

Also, like smartphones, smart TVs have a limited amount of storage space. Each app you download uses storage space. To keep your smart TV working at its best, only download apps that you will use. You can also clear the cache in the TV’s settings to optimize functioning.   

How Smart TVs Work

Smart TVs plug into a standard wall outlet, just like any other TV. The difference is that a smart TV requires an Internet connection to work.

Most people connect their smart TV to their Internet through their Wi-Fi network. Some smart TVs can also be hardwired to the Internet using an Ethernet cable.

When you are setting up a new smart TV, you will need to sign in to your Wi-Fi network by typing in your password before using the TV.

The quality of your smart TV’s Internet connection will affect the quality of your streaming videos. For the best video quality, place your Wi-Fi router as close to the TV as possible. If you have a dual-band Wi-Fi router, you can connect to the 5G network for faster Internet.

Smart TV Apps

You can access many streaming services through smart TV apps. Your TV will likely have popular services like Netflix and Hulu already downloaded on it. Other apps can be easily downloaded by searching for them using the smart TV’s search function.

The most popular video streaming apps are:

  1. Netflix
  2. YouTube        
  3. Amazon Prime Video 
  4. HBO
  5. Disney+          
  6. Hulu    

When using a new app for the first time, you often need to sign in to your account for that streaming service. Many apps provide a code for you to log in using your phone or computer. Others require you to type your account information directly into the TV using the remote.

Other apps, such as IMDB TV and Hoopla, are free and do not require any sign-in.

If you are running low on storage space or are not using an app anymore, you can delete it from your TV in the settings.

Smart TV Features

In addition to providing many different ways to watch your favorite shows and movies, smart TVs offer many features and settings such as:

  • Web browsing: Surf the web on your smart TV’s dedicated browser.
  • Music streaming: Most popular music streaming services, such as Spotify and Pandora, have smart TV apps. You can search for and play music directly from your TV.
  • Games: There are also gaming apps for gamers of all ages. Most are free, but many have optional in-app purchases.

Access music, web browser, and gaming apps just like you would find video apps on your smart TV. Parental controls and the sleep timer can be accessed in the TV’s settings as well.

Some smart TVs have built-in voice control. For example, with a Fire TV, you simply have to press the microphone button on the remote to talk to Alexa. Other smart TVs can be connected to an external voice assistant device such as a Google Home or Amazon Echo.

With voice control, you can:

  • Search for content
  • Play, pause, rewind and fast forward while watching content in an app that supports voice-control
  • Adjust the TV volume
  • Set a sleep timer

Some built-in smart TV voice controls can serve as fully functioning voice assistants to perform tasks such as giving the weather report or turning off your smart lights. You can even watch your video doorbell or security camera footage on your smart TV. Check out this article to learn how.

Can I Watch Cable on My Smart TV?

In recent years, there has been a trend to “cut the cord” with cable subscriptions and switch to solely using streaming services like Amazon Prime and Disney+. However, many people still prefer to use a cable box or satellite dish.

If you’re one of those people, don’t worry. You can use these devices with your smart TV. It’s easy to connect a cable box or satellite dish to your smart TV using an HDMI cable. You may need to use a receiver box for a satellite, depending on what kind of TV you have. Access your cable TV by going to the corresponding HDMI input source using the TV remote.

Many TV channels also have their own smart TV apps for streaming content. If you have a cable subscription, you can sign into these apps using your cable account information. This is a benefit of having both cable and a smart TV. Using smart TV apps, you can access more on-demand content than you can with just a cable box.

Watching Live TV

If you still want to cut the cord with your cable provider, you can substitute it with a live TV streaming service. You pay a set monthly fee and can stream numerous live TV channels.

Here are the top five most popular Live TV streaming services:

  1. YouTube TV
  2. Sling TV
  3. Fubo TV
  4. Hulu Plus Live TV
  5. Philo

Sling and Philo are significantly lower in cost, while YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and Hulu + Live TV offer more channels. 

Some smart TVs have a built-in antenna so that you can watch live local TV for free. If your smart TV doesn’t have a built-in antenna, you can still access free TV channels without a monthly subscription by adding an external antenna to your TV.

How to Upgrade to a Smart TV

If you have a “dumb TV” that you want to keep, you can turn it into a smart TV by adding an external device such as an Amazon Firestick or Google Chromecast.

These devices are easy to install. We have listed the general installation steps below, but each smart TV device will come with specific instructions.

  1. Plug the device’s power cable into a standard wall outlet.
  2. Plug the device into the TV’s USB port.
  3. Using the remote, navigate to the input source for the device.
  4. Complete the set-up process on the TV screen.

Using one of these external devices provides a full smart TV experience similar to purchasing a whole new television. However, if you prefer to upgrade to a newer TV, click here to shop for the best smart TVs on the market today.

Final Thoughts

The defining characteristic of a smart TV is that it connects to the Internet to access streaming services, and the best feature of smart TVs is its versatility. Not only can you download hundreds of apps, many of which are free, but you can also play games, stream music, watch live TV, and control your smart home devices. The possibilities are endless!