Your Buying Guide to Smart TVs

May 28, 2013 hulu, internet, lg, 2 Comments
Samsung Smart TVs


Many TV manufacturers, including LG, Phillips and Samsung, are now manufacturing Smart TVs that have a host of specialty features. So if you are thinking about shopping for a new TV and haven’t done so in a few years, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of variety in the marketplace. Not only do consumers have to choose between what type of television they want (LCD, LED or plasma), but now have to choose between a number of custom features.

But what makes a TV “smart”? And are these sets worth the extra cost for consumers?

What are Smart TVs?

Broadly speaking, smart TVs are television sets that can wirelessly connect to the Internet and has features designed to take advantage of this connectivity.

Features vary from set to set, but often include web browsers, instant access to TV-related web content, applications for social networking, and one-touch access to video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Though the exact features may vary from set to set, Smart TVs can access content from the Internet and are designed to work in an online environment.

Who Makes Smart TVs?

The only manufacturer that makes TVs that are specifically branded as “Smart” is Samsung. However, Philips, Vizio, Sony and LG have models that are widely branded as “Internet TVs,” which is a term that can be used interchangeably with “Smart TVs.” All of them have televisions that fit different pricing schemes, and have sizes that range from 32 inches all the way up to 70 inches.

Do I Need a Smart TV?

The most obvious advantage to having a Smart TV is easy access to Internet features that you do not already have access to. Many people already access streaming services through Blu-Ray players and video game consoles, and for those that only access online content on their TVs occasionally, Smart TVs may not be the best investments. However, if you hate booting up external devices and want an “all-in-one” device that is specifically designed to work natively with online services, Smart TVs are a great choice.

How Can I decide What Smart TV is Best for Me?

When you are shopping for Smart TVs, you have to look closely at the features. If you love video streaming, make sure the TVs you are considering have easy access to streaming applications.

The VIZIO E470i-A0 Smart HDTV, available currently on Amazon, features a “Smart Remote” that has one-touch access to popular streaming services Netflix, Vudu, YouTube and Hulu. The interface is very simple and easy to use, and users can easily switch between live TV and different streaming services using the remote.

When deciding what smart TV is right for you, you need to ask yourself what Internet features you would use most often. Every brand has its own focus, and its important to find the one with the easiest access to the features you enjoy the most. When you are shopping, don’t be afraid to ask a sales associate if you can demo some of the features associated with the set you are interested in.

For instance, if you are more of a social networking fan, you may want to consider the Samsung UN50EH5300 HDTV, also available on Amazon.

Ease of use may be the deciding factor between two sets, and you need to make sure that you are comfortable using the remote and navigating through the menus on whichever smart TV you ultimately decide to purchase.This set features an easy photo uploader tool that allows you to simply connect your camera, phone, or storage device and easily upload your photos to a central hub, as well as all of your social networks, simply from one interface. Samsung’s “allshare” photo tool also lets you create slideshows to show on your TV.

How Much Can I Expect to Pay?

Like with all television sets, much of the cost of smart TVs is reliant on the size you choose. Smaller smart TVs in the 32-inch can be as inexpensive as $700, but high-end large sets can cost upwards of $3,000. Just like with regular TV sets, you have to consider all the features of smart TVs if you are on a budget.

Smart TVs generally run a few hundred dollars higher than regular non-smart sets, so if you are on a budget, you may not be able to get as large of a set than you would if you were looking at TVs that are not designed to work with online TVs. However, if you don’t mind sacrificing some potential screen size for features, smart TVs are definitely a viable option, no matter what price range you are looking in.


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Amanda Kondolojy is a full time freelancer with a passion for technology. When she's not eyeballing the latest gadget or looking up the newest Apple iDevice rumors, she loves trading pins and spending time with her family.

2 Comments

  • Diana

    Great article! Just a few questions… Are TV apps (like Amazon Instant Video) available across all brands? Or, do certain TV manufacturers have exclusive rights to certain apps? Also, as far as the interfaces, which manufacturer is the simplest to use? Any pros and cons across brands?

    Thanks!
    Diana

  • Amanda Kondolojy

    Hi Diana! Most big-name brands (like Amazon, Hulu, etc.) are available across all brands. As far as simplicity is concerned, I like Panasonic, LG and Samsung, but your mileage may vary. Don’t be afraid to try them out in-store, and see what works best for you!

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