Smart TVs are popular these days but many people have only a vague idea of what they actually are. What makes a smart TV different from a “dumb” one?
People know them when they see them because of the label on the box, but the term “Smart TV” carries distinct meanings that many people don’t consider. There are a few clear differences between a standard television and a smart one.
The “smart” designation exists around lots of other technology, including the obvious example: smartphones. Terms like this and other tech buzzwords like “5G“, “4K“, and “HD” are now common in just about every household, but people rarely understand that these words are all specific to certain classifications. It’s easy for us to roll our eyes collectively when a magazine cover says it has the secret to giving us “HD abs” but the public’s lack of information about technologies that are now part of daily life represents a trend in modern society. Tech companies just aren’t doing a great job explaining their products to the public, and are instead relying on marketing firms to attach a word or two to the product while letting word of mouth do the rest.
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So, in that spirit, it’s worth examining what a smart TV is and what makes them a meaningful advancement in technology. The defining trait of a smart TV is that it connects to the internet and can use programs that would otherwise require a computer or some other device. Televisions with built-in apps for services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus are considered smart TVs. The distinction is the same as that of smartphones versus normal phones, and smart home devices versus… calendars (what else would those be compared to?). The functions of a smart TV that make it smart used to exist in set-top boxes like TiVo or a modern digital cable box. Now, companies have just figured out ways to get that technology into a flatscreen TV.
What Is a Smart TV In Terms of Physical Components
Since calling them “smart” means they connect to the internet, smart TVs typically have a built-in wireless adapter or support for an ethernet connection. That wireless adapter is what allows them to connect to Wi-Fi, and it’s usually the exact same technology you’d find in a laptop, phone, or game console.
Beyond that, smart TVs are basically low-end PCs. They have processors capable of running those apps. They have internal file storage. They have a display output in the form of the screen itself. The basic things that make a computer what it is are also powering our smart TVs. The genius of it is just in hiding that from the user and streamlining the user interfaces so people don’t feel like they’re booting up Windows every time they want to watch HBO Max.
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