Home Automation Tech: Connected TV

Connected TVs are an increasingly popular home automation item. You’ve probably heard about Apple’s foray into the connected television with Apple TV, a set-top box, and other tech giants are also beginning to offer different connected TV options. If you’ve got questions about the latest in television and home automation, we’ve got answers. Here are a few frequently asked questions about connected televisions: What is a connected TV? Connected TVs, also called smart TVs, are televisions with integrated internet and web 2.0 features. Basically, they’re the convergence of computer, television, and set-top boxes. Any TV that can connect to the internet to access streaming services, entertainment apps, internet music stations, and web browsers can be considered a connected TV. How do connected TVs access the Internet? Depending on the set, connected TVs access internet through either an Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi. While most of today’s models come with built-in Wi-Fi, it’s important to confirm which kind you’re looking into before you buy. It’s also important to check your Wi-Fi coverage before buying a connected TV—depending on the placement of your router and the television within your home, the TV may have trouble connecting and streaming. Most TV Wi-Fi receivers aren’t as sensitive as the receivers in set-top boxes like Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV. How do connected TVs compare to set-top boxes? You don’t have to have a connected TV to use a set-top box, which can be hooked up to an HDTV to stream services. Right now, a Roku set-top box has the most options of any set-top box or connected TV on the market, with more than 1000 channels and apps. If you want smart TV services without buying an new TV, Roku’s a popular choice. What’s the difference between brands of connected TVs? Because there’s no standard OS or interface, almost every TV manufacturer uses different software, graphics presentation, online services and apps. Nearly all manufacturers have popular services like Netflix and Pandora, but not all apps and services are available on every model of connected TV. Finding a connected TV with the services you want and a graphics presentation that works for you is a huge part of incorporating connected TVs into your home. Who’s manufacturing connected TVs? Most major TV manufacturers offer some kind of connected TV, and we’re definitely moving towards a day when every new TV set is built with some level of smart technology. Some of the biggest names currently making connected TVs include: Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio. It’s important to remember that, because they use computer chips to juggle video processing, internet connection, multiple screens, and more, connected TVs can crash or freeze just like computers. Often, simply turning off and restarting a connected TV will resolve these issues. Connected TVs offer a host of great benefits, from casual games and online connections to basic voice recognition and video calling services like Skype. What sort of smart TV services do you use?