Smart TVs (also called connected TVs) are able to access a wide variety of content and services from the Internet. A smart TV can easily increase the amount of media you use without greatly increasing your costs. Like smart phones, many of the apps for smart TVs are free or they require subscription fees you may already be paying (such as Netflix). All the major TV manufacturers now offer smart TVs and not only on their premium models.
Here we highlight 9 reasons your next TV should be a smart TV.
With the cost of traditional console-based video games averaging $50 each, gaming can be a very expensive hobby. App games on smart TVs however are often free or cheap (usually around $5).
While DVD players, via their ability to play CDs, have always done double duty as music players, now with services like Pandora and Slacker built into so many connected TVs, your TV can be your main music source without ever having to search for a disc. More people are probably familiar with Pandora, the service that lets you create your own music channels based on bands or songs you like, but Slacker is similar, though in addition it includes a number of pre-determined stations similar to satellite radio and is found on Sony TVs.
Movies and TV
For most consumers, access to streaming movies and TV programs is the primary reason for a smart TV. After all, it’s a television, and that’s what they’re for. More than that, smart TVs, with applications like Netflix, Amazon, and CinemaNow offer the best options for movie night since the decline of disc rental stores like Blockbuster. In many towns, the only place to rent disc movies are those Redbox vending machines found at grocery stores, but they have a limited selection, and you still have to drive back the next day to return the disc. Online movie services are much more convenient and very price competitive.
Chances are that the new smart TV you’re considering buying is also a 3D TV. While there are many 3D Blu-ray releases available, plus 3D video-on-demand from most TV service providers, that may not be enough to satisfy a 3D craving. Vudu, available on some TVs also streams 3D titles. New Samsung TVs feature a new Explor3 3D VOD option.
Wii fit isn’t the only tech device to help you get off the couch and into your skinny jeans. Several connected TVs include fitness, health and exercise apps. Panasonic VIERA-Connect TVs include a number of wellness features apps from Withings, BodyMedia and ICON. The BodyMedia FIT app connects with a wireless armband monitor to track data during your workout.
While many of the apps you’ll find on smart TVs will be familiar to you (Netflix, Pandora, Facebook), the variety of options on some TVs is almost overwhelming. News, games, wellness, art, sports … You now have more media choices via your smart TV than through your cable service provider.
Most connected TVs feature weather apps that allow you to input your city or zip code for up-to-date weather information. That’s a lot quicker than waiting for the evening news to bring you the forecast.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may be time wasters in the office, but at home they’re a major factor in how we connect to friends and family. Social media on a big screen TV becomes even more social, especially when you want to share posted photos or videos with other people in the house. It’s easier to gather around a big TV than to crowd a small smart phone.
TVs from Sony, Samsung and Panasonic all allow Skype video calls via a broadband connection. All you need is a USB webcam and a Skype account, and you’re ready to go. Video calls are great for staying in touch with family, allowing children to show off to grandparents and connecting to friends in distant counties.