What is a Smart TV? Everything You Need to Know

Here’s a list of Smart TVs that Run Android OS.  The most useful application for Android Smart TVs is that you can install Kodi on Android Smart TVs (video tutorial) easily – it’s a matter of finding Kodi in the Google Play Store on your Android Smart TV.  In contrast, to install Kodi on a non-Android Smart TV means adding an external device.  So if you have an Android Smart TV in the list below, install Kodi on it.  If your TV is not in the list below, just add an inexpensive Android TV box to your Smart TV to make it Kodi-smart.

What Do You Need To Know About Smart TVs?

Maybe the world of Smart TV is a little overwhelming for you. Fear not! Here’s some of the key information you need to know to get started.

What is a Smart TV?

A TV is smart if it can work with an internet connection. For this reason, smart TVs come equipped with an Ethernet port as well as Wi-Fi functionality. Some older models may need an additional adapter to connect with the Wi-Fi. These intelligent TVs incorporate an OS or platform that allows users to view and manage media content without the need for an additional streaming box (such as a Roku or Fire TV). But you can connect these devices with smart TVs to further enhance their functionality.

In most cases, Smart TVs use internet connectivity to stream digital content (movies and TV shows) from a variety of resources, apps, and services such as Netflix, HBO, Prime Video, and YouTube (among others). At times, you can access the free content available on services like Tubi and Crackle. Still, for the most part, a subscription is needed to access their library. Some modern Smart TVs also have internet browsers integrated into their user interface. However, these are frustrating to navigate and nowhere as refined as popular browsers like Chrome.

 

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Ethernet connection provides the most stable connection to a smart TV. But if your TV is in a different room of the house, Wi-Fi is more convenient to avoid the hassle of wire. Once you connect it to Wi-Fi, you are prompted to enter the login details provided by your ISP. Then, depending on the manufacturer, the smart TV will show a list of available channels in the form of apps (just like apps on your smartphone). You can download more apps if you need.

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The Benefit of Smart TV

The primary benefit of Smart TV is easy access to numerous channels that offer movies, TV series, music, etc., without connecting to an antenna or subscribing to a cable or satellite TV service. You can also browse the internet, play video games, and access compatible media content straight from your PC.

This way, Smart TVs actually declutter your living room. You no longer need a TV box, streaming device, BluRay player, DVD player, multiple HDMI cords, and remote controls. Simple download an app to do all of these tasks. You can even download a remote control app on your smartphone, connect it with your TV and use your phone as a remote.

Additional Smart TV Features

Compatibility with 4K UHD Streaming Video – While there isn’t much 4K content to watch, for now, having this feature will ensure your Smart TV is future-forward.

Universal Search – Searching online for what you want to watch can be time-consuming. That’s why a built-in search engine with the widest possible search capabilities comes in handy.

Transfer content between smart devices – Different companies call this feature different names such as “casting’, “second screen,” “Swipe & share,” or “flinging.” Whatever the name, if you can send content from your phone or tablet to the TV screen, it’s priceless.

Voice Control – While voice control on Smart TVs can be finicky, having the ability to control your TV without moving a muscle can be of additional help.

What Operating System Does My Smart TV Have?

  • LG uses webOS as its Smart TV operating system.
  • Samsung TVs use Tizen OS
  • Panasonic televisions use Firefox OS
  • Sony TVs generally run Android OS.  Sony Bravia TVs are our top pick of TVs that run Android.

How do smart TVs connect to the internet?

As discussed previously, Smart TVs connect to the internet either through the wired Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. Many modern smart TVs support the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Look out for the older models. Many of them still support the older 802.11n standard. A very few of them support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, but such smart TVs are still very rare these days.

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Here’s how you can connect Smart TV to your Wi-Fi:

  • On your TV remote, hit the Menu button.
  • Select Network Settings and then proceed to “Set up a wireless connection.”
  • Type a name and password with the help of your remote control.

If you are going the Ethernet route, this is how you can connect via cable.

  • Locate the Ethernet port on the back of your Smart TV
  • Connect the Ethernet cable from your router to the port
  • Hit the Menu button on your TV remote and go to Network Settings
  • Enable Wired internet
  • Type your name and password with the help of your remote control

In case your TV isn’t getting enough Wireless signals, you can use either a mesh router or a range extender to remedy the problem. This way, you can cover a large home with a single Wi-Fi connection.

Which companies make smart TVs?

With the trend for Smart TVs settling in, every major TV manufacturer has hopped on the bandwagon. You can get an economical set from TCL and Hisense, boasting a pre-built Roku. High-end models from Sony, Samsung, and LG even more functionalities such as motion control, voice control, and smart home appliance integration for expensive tastes.

Currently, Samsung’s Tizen and LG’s webOS range of smart TVs are considered the best smart Platforms. They are fast, feature a user-friendly interface, and come jam-packed with the latest apps. Still, there’s plenty of room to give other makers a shot.

Other off-brand smart TV manufacturers include Hisense, Toshiba, Panasonic, Sharp, Visio, and Philips. Most of these companies parade their smart appliances as the latest and most advanced in the world. Watch out for their budget options that mention smart TV capability. These smart platforms will leave you stuck with limited apps, a glitchy user interface, and sub-par performance.

Why Do LG, Samsung, and Panasonic TVs Not Use Android OS?

With Apple having such as huge following, most Smart TV manufacturers are apprehensive to potentially “alienate” half of their audience (known as iOS users) by adding their line of TVs to the list of TVs that run Android OS.  So, they go with a “third party”, “non-denominational” OS that ends up being less than good.  Sony, Sharp, and Philips have the right idea by putting the strong, scalable Android operating system in their Smart TVs in 2016, 2017, and the years following.

Sony Android TV Details

  • Sony Smart TVs boast an impressive 16GB of minimum storage space.  This is pretty nifty as far as 2019 storage space numbers go.
  • Control your Sony SmartTV using your smartphone with the SideView app for Android devices
  • Stream video & photos to your Sony Android TV using Google Cast for Android, or AirBuddy for iOS

Smart TV Gaming

For casual gaming, keep an eye out on devices emerging from companies like Razer and Logitech.  Their wireless controllers and Smart TV-friendly input devices are sure to bring gaming to your Smart TV without the need for an expensive Playstation VR or Xbox console.

Best Sony Android TVs

  • Budget-minded TV lovers will want to check out the Sony KD-65X8505C 65-inch Smart TV that has 4K UHD capabilitiesThe Sony KD-65XD9305 is a 65-inch SmartTV everyone seems to love
  • Sony’s KD-55XD9305 55 inch Smart TV screen has 4K HDR video rendering features
  • KD-65S8505C  is the 65″ curved-screen 4K TV you’ve always dreamed of
  • For an inexpensive Sony Android TV, check out the Sony KD-49X8307C

What services do smart TVs offer, and how do they differ from one another?

Regardless of the brand, modern Smart TVs provide a variety of streaming video content choices. There are several premium video streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Prime Video. You have to subscribe to one of their packages to avail of their service, which can be expensive for some people.

Fortunately, there is another alternative for people on a budget. An increasing number of ad-supported streaming services such as Pluto TV, Crackle, and Tubi are also available. These are free services, but you have to sit through intermittent commercials throughout the stream. On the plus side, you are not paying anything to stream your favorite content.

One of the benefits of smart TV stream music as well. You have services like Pandora and Spotify offering radio transmission on most smart TV platforms. Download their app and start using their services. Then there’s social media compatibility. You can access all the major social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This feature comes in handy for checking quick notifications. However, don’t expect a similar user experience as a smartphone.

Perhaps the biggest trend these days is the inclusion of voice assistants. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Google (Yeah! It’s called Google) are some interactive tools providing the same functionality as a smart speaker. These are used with either a simple microphone built into the remote control or a microphone pre-built into the TV that listens to your commands, searches the internet, and displays content accordingly.

Smart TVs have also become a hub, providing compatibility and connectivity across multiple household devices. From smart doorbells and smart cameras to smart thermostats, you can find a plethora of compatible devices in the market. Smart TVs offer a unified dashboard so that you can control a variety of home appliances from the comfort of your sofa.

Of course, not all Smart TVs are equal. Each manufacturer uses a different operating system. That’s why the app library, feature support, and compatibility may differ. Some manufacturers rely on proprietary software support like Vizio’s SmartCast, Samsung’s Tizen, and LG’s WebOS. You can also utilize other third-party software such as Roku and Fire TV. These are a popular combination with Smart TVs because of their economic nature.

Each of these Operating System has a very distinct user interface. Some will have a scrolling ribbon of icons at the bottom of the screen. Others have a full-screen menu that showcases all the options scattered throughout the screen. Still, others will have all the features bundled in a corner. Navigating the interface also varies depending on the brand, as each manufacturer has its own distinctive remote design.

All things considered, different smart TVs offer different user experience. What works for you may not work for others. Therefore, when you purchase a smart TV, it’s a good idea to spend some time flipping through the smart features. This will ensure you know what you are buying and are comfortable with the model.

How does a smart TV compare to set-top boxes such as Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV?

Well, you don’t really need a Smart TV to stream the latest Netflix Shows, YouTube Videos, or Prime Video offerings. A good streaming device can stream all of these services to an older HDTV as long as it has HDMI support. Roku, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Xbox all have multiple streaming devices offering this capability. But, it’s worth mentioning that these devices are very limited in scope. They do not provide the same level of user experience and functionality as a modern Smart TV. In fact, all of these media streamers mentioned earlier have a very similar user interface and even offer the same apps.

Streaming devices are also very platform-centric. This means their content selection is limited to what their producers allow. For example, Amazon’s Fire lineup of devices is mostly limited to Amazon’s library of original and acquired programming. Until recently, there was no YouTube or HBO MAX on FireStick. Similarly, Apple TV doesn’t natively support Chromecast. That makes you realize that the big three – Google, Amazon, and Apple – don’t really play well together. However, one of the benefits of Smart TV is that it’s platform-neutral. I supports as many streaming services simultaneously as possible. For instance, LG’s Smart TVs include YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Vudu, and Hulu, among others.

Keep in mind, older Smart TVs will not support all of these streaming apps. Again, this is an area where you have to use a set-top box to access these services. Streaming devices are also more cost-effective and portable. You can get a top-notch streamer in less than 50 bucks. Smart TVs are obviously more expensive. That said, we recommend using both – a streaming stick as well as a Smart TV – to enhance your streaming experience. TV set-top boxes are a more convenient solution for people on a budget who can live with limited features and content.

Smart TVs That Run Android OS

  • Sony Bravia Smart TVs Smart TVs run Android OS, such as the XBR Z9D series, XBR X930D / X940D series, XBR X850D series, XBR X800D series, XBR X750D / X700D series, XBR X830C series, W850C series, X810C series, XBR X850C series, XBR X910C series / X900C series.  For a list of the individual best Sony Android TVs (models & prices), scroll down to the bottom of this page.  Or check out the official Android website’s list of Sony Bravia Android TVs here.
  • Sharp Smart TVs run Android operating system
  • Philips Smart TVs is smart enough to put Android OS in their TVs
Bravia has several Smart TV models in our list of Smart TVs that run Android OS

Sony Bravia Smart TVs Run Android OS (perfect for Kodi)!

Smart TVs Do Not Run Android

  • LG Smart TVs
  • Samsung Smart TVs
  • Vizio Smart TVs
  • Panasonic Smart TVs

Here’s an easy visual breakdown:

TVs That Run Android OS TVs That Do Not Run Android OS
Sony Bravia Smart TVs LG Smart TVs
Sharp Smart TVs Samsung Smart TVs
Philips Smart TVs Vizio Smart TVs
Hisense Smart TVs Panasonic Smart TVs

Wrap Up

The bottom line is, Smart TVs are an excellent option for streaming entertainment from online sources.  All the brands and models offer some level of smart functionality to enhance your viewing options. Nevertheless, you should be aware of the differences in features, available content, additional pay-per-view costs, and privacy concerns (if any).  Last but not least, balance the attractiveness of a Smart TV with other crucial factors such as display quality, audio quality, and connectivity options. It will save you from trouble in the long run. That’s all for now. We hope now you know the benefits of Smart TV.

Did we miss something in our list of TVs that run Android?  Let us know in the comments below or on our YouTube Channel!