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TVs: Smart TVs

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Originally called ‘Connected TVs’, big companies like Samsung and LG branded this innovation in entertainment tech as ‘Smart TVs’ for a better marketing appeal. They are TVs which can connect to the Internet to access streaming media services and that can run entertainment apps, such as on-demand video-rental services, Internet music stations or web browsers. However, LG and Samsung are not the only companies making them now. Today most major TV makers have their own smart TV models. Big names include LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TCL, and Toshiba. Even Apple and Google have their own smart TV sets if that appeals to you.

So what are these so called ‘Smart’ TVs?

LG Smart TV
LG Smart TV

Smart TVs can be viewed from two different perspectives.

The first one is that they are basically just TVs that have Internet access using which they browse and play content using apps like Netflix. Smart TVs use either a direct, wired Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a home network for Internet access.

The other way to look at Smart TVs is that they are just computer systems, with a huge screen and lacking most of the other hardware components like a keyboard or a mouse. They are, however, bundled with most of the network and signal hardware that come with normal TVs.

Are all the Smart TVs the same?

Smart TV App
Smart TV App

First of all, Smart TVs don’t have a standard operating system or interface. Thus every TV comes with different software and a different graphical presentation. Different manufacturers also offer a different assortment of online services and apps. For most of the part though, all smart TVs support popular services, such as Netflix and Pandora.

The arrangement of apps also varies. While some smart TVs use an iOS-esque scrolling screens of icons to display options; others use tabbed windows or scroll bars similar to Android’s ICS implementation. Some also use a 3D-style carousel of screens to sort and arrange all the available services- more like Windows Metro UI.

Cons

Smart TVs require computer chips to juggle video processing, up-scaling, multiple screens and an Internet connection. They also use memory to buffer streaming video and music, and need additional processing power to deal with graphics. Just as phones have become more like high-end computers, so too have smart TVs. Thus, just like computers and smartphones crash and hang while usage sometimes, so do Smart TVs.

Apple TV
Apple TV

Now as they are basically computers too, they can also be affected by viruses, although attacks are purely theoretical and have not ‘yet’ happened in reality. Most Smart TVs use a modified version of Linux as their base OS, which is highly popular and hence, easy to hack as well. Many ‘Ethical Hackers’ have showed that hacks are possible and can be implemented towards Smart TVs, and warned users not to perform confidential tasks such as online banking etc on them unless completely unavoidable.

Another downside of Smart TVs is that they are a bit expensive. There are various set top boxes offered at cheap rates by big manufacturers like Google and Apple that can be connected to normal HDTVs to do exactly what Smart TVs do.

Well, that was our take on the smart TVs. And while there are both ups and downs when it comes to this tech, you would surely enjoy it once you get your hands on it.

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