Smarter moves for your Smart TV
Smart TVs represent some of the finest kit you can get your hands on today. But lots of people don´t get the best out of them. Here are some top tips for harnessing the full power of a Smart telly.
Let's open with a rather shocking stat: Smart TVs are mainly used to watch TV... and that's pretty much it.
A study by market research firm NPG Group last year found more than 40% of households with Smart TVs don't actually connect their device to the internet - meaning people simply aren't getting all the benefits of a modern-day telly.
A few years ago this would have been understandable. The first Smart TVs could be a little complicated and users were often befuddled by the sheer number of apps, interfaces, hubs and features that were available.
And of course, there were plenty of other platforms - tablets, smartphones, PCs - that did the job just as well.
Today, though, Smart TVs really are the business and manufacturers' offerings have got much better.
So if you have a Smart TV and are looking to get a little more out of it, here's a handy guide that will help you really harness your device.
OK - I've heard of a smart phone, but what's a Smart TV?
Same thing really, just a little bit bigger! Just like a smart phone, a Smart TV is internet-connected. It delivers services that you simply can't get on a standard television.
Think of the device as like a TV with a computer built into it. You can browse the web, stream films and music, explore cool apps, head on to Facebook, share videos and photos, Skype your pals and much, much more. All in all, a Smart TV is a pretty whizz-bang package.
Some Smart TVs coming with built-in Wi Fi, all will have an ethernet port (so you can connect your Smart with your broadband modem or router), and some are 'Wi Fi ready' (more of which later).
Connecting a Smart TV to the interweb
There are three main ways to get a Smart TV hooked up to the web. Let's go through them.
All Smart TVs on the market today should have an ethernet cable at the back of the device. This means you can simply connect your Smart TV with your current broadband modem or router. Remember though that if you want to do this, your TV will need to be close to the box.
Some Smart TVs come with built-in Wi Fi, so you can connect your TV wirelessly. You might need to buy a wireless adaptor if your Smart TV doesn't have one.
Setting up a wireless network can take longer, but many of today's Smart TVs are pretty sophisticated and will come with a built-in programme that will determine your connection and get you set up pretty quickly.
Generally, Smart TVs with built-in wi fi are the best option as they mean fewer cables about the place.
'Wi Fi ready'
This usually means that you need to buy a separate Wi Fi dongle, costing around £50, for the wireless connection to work. You can take a look at our Smart TV buying guide for more information.
Got your Smart TV internet-ready? Good stuff. Let's get cracking and explore. Once your TV is connected to the web, there's a whole world of stuff you can do.
Watch, chat, surf: Access on-demand TV services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Player to enjoy all your favourite shows. Watch music videos on YouTube and enjoy films through services such as Knowhow Movies.
Keep in touch with your friends and family through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
You might be wondering why you shouldn't just do this from your tablet or PC, but remember that on most Smart TVs you can do many things at once - so Skype a friend overseas, watch The Apprentice and post on Twitter all at the same time. Smart eh?
What do I need to consider when buying a Smart TV?
Smart TVs are great, but anyone thinking of buying one needs to consider a number of things before they decide to purchase.
The main one is the internet connection. You'll need to connect your TV to a broadband network, whether it's via a wireless connection, an ethernet cable or a dongle. We reckon the wireless option is best - a reliable connection, no connecting a cable to your modem or router and no wires to trip over!
What's more, make sure the Smart TV you choose is easy to use and navigate. Play around with the interface to make sure it's right for you.
Looking forwards, Smart TVs are set to dominate the digital entertainment market. As they get more and more sophisticated, manufacturers will be able to offer ever-more innovative features. If you're looking to house all your entertainment and communication needs all in one place, then the Smart TV could well be for you.
For more help choosing the right telly, check out our interactive buyer's guide.