Making sense of TVs: “Should I get a Smart TV?”

viera-wt60TVs are often a large part of the home tech experience. There are a lot of options for TVs (size, LED vs. plasma, smart features, inputs, etc.), and therefore, usually a lot of questions about these options. We’re looking at common TV options and some tips on what to look for. Last time we looked at: “Do I need Ultra HD?”, this week: “Should I get a Smart TV?”

Smart TVs are all the rage these days, or at least they’re advertised as such.  Smart TVs are TVs with built in functions or apps that use the Internet.  In the old days, like five years ago, the only built in TV function was that it could tune in channels.  These days most of us use cable boxes, DVD/Blu-ray players or streaming devices.  As TV viewing habits and content sources are changing, TVs now have other built in functions like Netflix, YouTube, Facebook and more.

Should it effect your buying decision when looking at a new TV?  The answer is maybe.  If you use a TV with a cable set top box, DVD player or something like an Apple TV, then the TVs smart features won’t budge your decision one way or another.  It doesn’t hurt to have the smart features, but put your money first towards TV picture quality and size.

On the other hand, if you want to use Netflix without connecting a streaming device, then a TV with built-in Netflix would be handy. Below is a partial list of available apps to give you a sense of what’s available in Canada (our neighbours to the south have even more options).

  • Sports: MLB.TV, NHL GameCentre, MLSSamsung Smart TV
  • Special Interest: BollywoodHungama, NFB, Crunchyroll, Times of India, c|net
  • News: The Weather Network, WSJ Live, Huff Post Live,
  • Social: Skype, Twitter, YouTube
  • Convenience: smart phone streaming, Internet browsers, voice control

You can also look at TV manufactures smart functions such as Samsung’s smart TV offerings. Perhaps you can see yourself using something like Skype, checking the weather or streaming to your TV from your smartphone, so a smart TV might make sense to you.

If these types of smart features appeal to you, ensure that your short list of TVs also include apps that are important to you.  Remember that when you get it home though, you’ll need to have a stable Wi-Fi or wired network to fully enjoy the smart features as most require an Internet connection.  Happy viewing!