The big screen TV is the center piece of the home entertainment center. But with convenient access to TV shows and movies on smartphones and tablets, the TV is losing its ground as the main source of news and entertainment in the home. Several TV manufacturers have added internet access as a new feature, and it is quickly gaining ground over other advances such as ultra high definition screen resolution and 3D technology. Here are five new hardware and software improvements to look for in an internet-connected smart TV.
The latest smart TVs have Wi-Fi built-in, which lets the viewer access the internet via a wireless network. The setup process is straightforward for most TVs if the wireless network is already setup. Just follow the on-screen prompts to connect the TV to the wireless router. Another feature in newer smart TVs is Wi-Fi Direct. This allows the TV to connect to other wireless devices directly, without going through the wireless access point.
TV OS and Web Browser
Another feature included in many smart TVs is
an operating system and web browser. Google TV is an Android operating system that features the chrome web browser. With it, you can surf and search the internet, access any website, watch and program TV, and view content from peripheral devices. Other TV manufacturers such as Samsung use a Linux operating system, and the software developer Opera offers a version of its web browser for smart TVs.
Video, Social Networking, and Messaging Apps
An app package is usually included with most smart TVs. Vizio Internet Apps, Samsung Apps, and LG's App Store provide easy access to some of the most popular internet applications including Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, and Skype. Just download the apps on the screen, and open them just like you would on a computer. Watch movies, message friends, and update your online profile right on the TV. Select smart TVs offer automatic updates for the apps.
Accessing the internet on the TV is easy with Google TV. It utilizes a qwerty remote that lets you change television channels and type web addresses. Easily click, scroll, and use gestures to navigate on the screen. It also features voice commands, which lets you speak into the remote to change the channel and adjust the volume. LG's Magic Remote and Samsung's Smart Touch Remote have similar functionality. A few smart TV's recognize your hand and voice, so you won't even need to pick up the remote to control the TV. You can even use your smartphone as a remote by installing an app.
Sharing and Cloud Technology
Most smart TVs offer options for sharing content between devices. The LG Cloud is available for LG smart TVs. It lets you store videos, music, and photos on an online server that is accessible from the TV. Samsung's Allshare lets you access content stored on a computer or other device via a home network. You can also view content on wireless devices directly with two types of connections: wireless display technology, or WIDI, and near field communications, or NFC. With WIDI, you can stream high definition video and digital audio from a smartphone or tablet to the TV screen. With NFC, simply tap the device against the TV to establish a link and send content.