Smart TV – is there nothing it can’t do?

Smart TVs hook up to the web so we can stream a movie from Netflix, catch up on last night’s EastEnders via iPlayer or chat to friends on Facebook

14 Dec 2012


They don't call smart TVs 'smart' for nothing. As happy running Skype as they're Sky, smart TVs are like that painfully smug kid at school who manages to combine the looks and dance moves of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever with academic and sporting prowess.


Also known as internet TVs, they hook up to the web so we can stream a movie from KNOWHOW Movies, catch up on last night's EastEnders via iPlayer or chat to friends on Facebook. Oh, and they also show regular real-time TV for when you want television as pure as nature - or the Radio Times - intended.

Just like the classmate who sailed through exams as gracefully as he spun around the dancefloor, there's seemingly nothing a smart TV can't do.

But instead of spouting jealous gossip behind the bike sheds about the audacious width of his flares we've taken to smart TV like a long-lost brother, falling hook, line and sinker for its ample charms. Ofcom revealed around 15% of Britons own a smart TV, but amid the head-rush of a spellbinding teenage crush, are you remembering to get the most from your smarter than smart set?

Home is where the heart is
No matter how natural that perfect friend's moves are out on the floor, they'll have began life incredibly shaky in front of their mirror at home. Hard work, practise and a good base are always behind smugness and skill - and it's the same with smart TV. Everything starts from the homepage. Think of it as your motherboard, your nerve centre, your Cape Canaveral. Like the dancefloor in Saturday Night Fever (sorry, again), this is where everything happens. From here you choose where you want to go or what you want to do. Heck, it even looks like the chequered floor at the 2001 Odyssey club with its desktop of colourful icons and apps, but it draws the line at platform boots and dodgy medallions.  

App all night
Even the most frustratingly good all-rounders have one killer move that trumps the lot. In Saturday Night Fever this might have been the hustle, but with smart TV it's definitely apps. Missed Match of the Day on Saturday night because you were out practising your moves? There's an app for it. Want to see if Dirty Dancing was as good as you remembered? There's an app for it. Smart TVs are redefining how we interact with our televisions and apps are a big part of this revolution, giving you control over what you watch and when.

Ofcom says nearly one in four Britons watch TV over the web via services like iPlayer and SkyGo and the iPlayer app for smart TV is among the most popular. Night owls can bust finger-clicking moves 'til there's no heel left on their platform boots safe in the knowledge their favourite shows will be waiting on Sunday morning.  But the iPlayer app for smart TV also deserves a Nobel Prize for peace in many homes. It eases tension in the ongoing remote control wars, with husbands up and down the country relinquishing control of the TV and keeping Relate happy. And for those weeks when the disco's closed or a TV truce has been reached between me and my better half, KNOWHOW Movies helps create a movie night without having to move from the sofa - unless popcorn is on the agenda.   

Get social
The telly has always been the hub of our living rooms. Before I was old enough to hit the town, Saturday night was spent transfixed by its hypnotic glow, but like those 1970s dance moves where everyone lines up together clapping and thrusting fingers skywards smart TV demands more than mere compliance - it wants you to interact and will be a right mardy bum if you don't. Much of this revolves around social networking apps. With Skype you can turn your living room into a meeting room by holding a conference call in your pyjamas, although that's probably not advised.

However, there's more fun to be had with a pre night-out Skype call - what are you going to wear, who do you want to see and more importantly who don't you want to see, with the best pre-bar TV a mere flick of a switch away. The Skype app is also great for gossiping about the achievements of the aforementioned Mr Perfect and his sickeningly slick dance moves or unacceptably hairy chest, while split screen technology means you can tweet or update Facebook while watching whatever show gets you in the mood for hitting the tiles.

So there we have it, if you've heard the term smart TV bandied about you now know the score. Smart TV may remind you of that annoying friend who seems to have it all, but that's a small price to pay for a full-blown living room revolution.