It is difficult to find a TV set these days that does not come with a ‘smart’ label. This label marks the next step in the evolution of televisual technology. TV sets have come a long way since the heavy-bodied CRT models of the 90s. Nowadays, the displays are slim, sleek, and loaded with multi-functional capabilities. If you are looking to buy a large-screen, HDTV set for your home, but have no idea how to distinguish between a smart and a non-smart television, then this guide will help you sort everything out and hand you the technical expertise you need to make a wise purchase. Ready? Read on.

What makes a Television ‘Smart’?

In a nutshell, the internet. Any TV set, which has the right gear to process internet signals and send requests to the web, is a ‘smart’ TV. The latest varieties of television come with built-in Wi-Fi that allows you to connect your smartphones, laptops, or tablets to the TV over your in-home wireless network. There is also an Ethernet port at the back, which enables you to run a wire from the cable modem to the TV, especially if you want to stream an interference-free 4K Ultra-HD content or play an online game without ping.

Moreover, you can use your smart TV the traditional way and add a cable box to it. For instance, Cox cable offers you the all-new Contour Stream Player, which brings the subscribed channel lineup and premium content from HBO Max, SHOWTIME®, Cinemax®, and STARZ® to your smart TV while giving you access to online streaming services at the same time.

So, what makes a TV smart? The internet capability.

Does a Smart TV have an Operating System like a PC?

Almost all the devices with advanced software functioning have an operating system at their core. Whether it is your mobile, tablet, or a baby monitor that sends you audio/video over the cloud. Similarly, smart TVs also have unique operating systems, which support web browsers, control peripherals, and manage application software in the dashboard.

Samsung has Tizen that is popular for its speed and auto-detection of nearby devices. Sony has Android TV that integrates Google Assistant and Google cast seamlessly. LG has WebOS that has a great motion control support and the easiest-to-understand interface. Some manufacturers don’t have their own in-house operating software, so they use third party OS like Amazon Fire TV (Toshiba products) or Roku TV (TCL products) for extending the smart features of their TV sets.

Keep this difference in mind when you compare the available smart TV models.

How do the Built-In Applications Work?

Smart TVs are quite like your smartphone, in the sense that they have built-in applications, and even allow you to download new apps from the play store or the browser, depending on the make and the kind of OS you have. Most of them, however, have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and other apps, using which you can stream the latest episodes of your favorite shows in HD quality.

If you don’t have a video subscription, then you can download free streaming apps like Crackle, Pluto TV, or Tubi TV and select them from your remote control to play at will. A great benefit of having a Roku OS is that it automatically includes several highly entertaining channel apps, which you can watch at your disposal. In addition to videos, apps like Weather, News, Sports, Pandora, and iHeart Radio also seem to make their way on a smart TV platform.

What Other High-End Features does a Smart TV Have?

Besides the apps, you can also expect to find the following features in your new smart TV set:

Voice Search – Some smart televisions have microphone technology built right into them while others support voice-activated remote controls, allowing you to search by speaking your commands aloud, e.g. “Mute”, for easier, hands-free navigation.

AI Assistance – The latest smart TVs have built-in AI assistants, such as Alexa or Google Assistant, which offer personalized recommendations and maintain a huge database. This makes searching media library, pulling up information from the web, or changing the channel as simple as pie.

Smart Home Integration – Most of the high-end smart home devices of today come with their signature applications for remote access. You can download these apps on your smart TV, after checking device compatibility and control your smart home devices from the screen.

Time to Buy…

Now that you have an idea about what to expect from a smart TV set, it is time to check out the popular smart TVs in the market, which have shown the most commendable performance. These include Samsung Q90R QLED TV, Sony A9G Master Series OLED, LG C9 OLED Series, TCL 6-Series QLED (R625), Vizio M658-G1 and Sony Bravia X950H Series, etc. Once you correlate your unique requirements with the particular TV specs offered, you will be able to make the best purchase of 2020 so far.