What does a smart TV do that a regular TV doesn’t?

March 16, 2024
  Reading time 13 minutes

A smart TV, at its core, is a blend of a traditional television set with integrated internet and interactive Web 2.0 features, making it a potent device for not only content consumption but also for gaming, social networking, and even home automation. Non-smart TVs might seem anachronistic as they lack these capabilities. From their inception, smart TVs were designed to address a growing demand for multifunctionality within a single device. In today’s tech-driven society, a significant number of households now boast a smart TV as a central figure in the living room ensemble.

The unchanged silhouette of the average television conceals the strides made from regular TVs to smart TVs. Pondering over their appearance misleads one to underestimate the leaps taken in both functionality and user experience. While non-smart TVs were once the apex of technology, they now play second fiddle to the versatile and robust nature of smart TVs, which could also participate in the broader ecosystem of home devices.

User browsing internet on Smart TV, a feature absent in regular television sets

Core Features Differentiating Smart TVs from Regular TVs

Integrated Internet Connectivity

  1. One of the pivotal features that set smart TVs apart from non-smart tvs is the ability to connect to the internet. Whether it’s through Ethernet or Wi-Fi, having direct access to the internet means streaming devices such as Roku or Chromecast might not be a necessity. Smart TVs open doors to services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+, offering a wide array of streaming content at the touch of a button or a voice command.
  2. The will need for live TV diminishes greatly when a plethora of streaming services are just a click away. Streaming content tailored to individual tastes is typically a subscription away, negating the need for traditional channel surfing. Additionally, certain smart TVs comes with built-in web browsers, enabling viewers to surf the internet directly from their couch.

Built-in Applications and Services

Unlike a regular tv, the smart counterpart boasts an array of pre-installed apps. From social media to music streaming, the variety and convenience are palpable. You might want to watch a cooking tutorial on YouTube or access your workout app, and a smart TV allows for that versatility seamlessly.

For viewers seeking more than the default offerings, the option to download new features in the form of apps is usually available. Whether it’s a niche media service or a popular game, personalization is just a few clicks away. However, app availability might vary between different platforms and manufacturers. This ecosystem of apps and services ensures that the home screen of a smart TV is a dynamic and customizable gateway to entertainment and more.

Smart Functionality and Interactivity

Superior Content Access and Management

Smart TVs elevate the content viewing experience by harnessing the power of advanced algorithms which suggest streaming content based on your viewing habits. A well-known feature is the personalized user profiles that curate content lists that cater specifically to the user’s tastes. The more you watch, the smarter it gets, proffering recommendations that often hit the mark.

This nuanced interactivity extends beyond mere content suggestion. A smart TV can serve as a central command center for other smart home devices. Imagine commanding your TV to dim the lights or adjust the thermostat as part of a unified smart home system. The seamless integration underscores the “”smarter”” aspect of smart televisions.

Multi-Device Synchronization and Sharing

The flexibility to sync and share content across multiple devices easily is yet another feather in the cap for smart TVs. Screen mirroring from smartphones or tablets means that the photos you took today can be the centerpiece of your living room in seconds. Moreover, casting technologies like Google Cast and Apple AirPlay have made sharing content from other devices to the big screen a breezy affair.

Integration doesn’t stop with personal devices; it includes smart home devices like security cameras, video doorbells, and even appliances. Viewing your front door camera feed on your smart TV screen as soon as the bell rings is a convenience that a non-smart TV simply does not offer. This multi-device synergy highlights the adaptability and mutual compatibility that have become hallmarks of smart TVs.

Smart TV interface with voice control commands, unlike standard TV capabilities

The Impact of Smart Features on User Experience

FeatureRegular TVSmart TV
Internet AccessNoYes
App AvailabilityNoneExtensive
Device IntegrationLimitedExtensive
Content RecommendationsNonePersonalized
Voice ControlNot StandardCommonly Included
Streaming Services AccessRequires Additional DevicesBuilt-In

Enhanced Viewing Experience

A smart TV is not only about the content it can access but also about the quality of the viewing experience it delivers. Modern smart TVs often support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 4K resolution, which translate to sharper images and more vivid colors. The experience is further amplified by sound technologies like Dolby Atmos, which provide a more immersive sound experience.

The convenience of on-demand content means that viewers are no longer constrained by traditional broadcasting schedules. They will need not plan their evenings around their favorite show’s airtime; instead, binge-watching the entire season on their schedule is the new norm. This makes the smart TV a centrepiece for entertainment, overshadowing the capabilities of non-smart tvs.

The Convenience of On-demand Content

The ability to access content when and where you want is one of the defining traits of smart TVs. Where once appointment viewing was the norm, smart TVs have fostered an era of unprecedented content accessibility. Not only does it make it possible to catch up with missed episodes, but it can also render external hardware like DVD players or streaming sticks obsolete – another edge smart TVs have over their non-smart counterparts.

Moreover, the integration with live TV services through apps like Sling TV or FuboTV means that even the traditional live experience doesn’t necessitate a cable subscription any longer. This aspect very well could be the death knell for the cable-based viewing that dominated the latter half of the 20th century, as smart TVs become the all-in-one solution for media consumption.

Navigating the Potential Drawbacks of Smart TVs

While smart TVs offer a panoply of features and conveniences, they are not without their potential pitfalls. The issue of privacy and security, for instance, looms large. Smart TVs, much like other smart home devices, collect data on viewing preferences and usage patterns. This has raised concerns about how securely this data is stored and who has access to it. Manufacturers assure customers of stringent privacy measures, but users are advised to review the privacy policies and take advantage of features such as the ability to opt out of data collection.

Just like any other sophisticated piece of technology, smart TVs can experience technical glitches. Users might encounter issues ranging from connectivity problems to app crashes. It’s important for consumers to consider the ease of troubleshooting their device and the availability of customer support. Regular software updates are essential in smoothing out these glitches and in introducing new features that keep the TV up-to-date with the latest technologies and content offerings.

Before diving into the world of smart TVs, potential buyers should weigh the pros and cons. Costs can be higher when compared to regular TVs, and with technology advancing rapidly, what is considered cutting-edge today might be outdated tomorrow. To mitigate this, researching and selecting a TV with an eye towards future-proofing—such as checking for regular updates and support for the latest apps—is advisable.

  1. The Issue of Privacy and Security
    • Beyond the utility, it’s pivotal to scrutinize how your data is handled.
    • Ensuring that security features are up to scratch can safeguard against unauthorized access.
    • Updating your smart TV firmware consistently can further secure your device against threats.
  2. Overcoming Smart TV Technical Glitches
    • Identifying resources for support can preempt frustration with technical troubles.
    • Knowing common issues and how to resolve them can enhance the user experience.
    • Staying informed about your smart TV’s capabilities and updates will need ongoing attention.
  3. Considerations for Smart TV Buyers
    • Evaluating what features you might need against those you might want can guide purchase decisions.
    • Considering the interoperability with other devices in your home ecosystem can influence which smart TV to choose.
    • Keep in mind that the long-term investment in a smart TV also involves potential updates or even repairs down the line.
Comparing Smart TV with apps and games to regular TV with basic functions

Conclusion: Is a Smart TV Right for You?

Smart TVs mark a significant advancement in the evolution of home entertainment. With their multifaceted capabilities, they cater not only to traditional TV lovers but also to tech-savvy users who desire a more comprehensive and interconnected experience. Whether it’s the high-quality streaming content, the interactivity, or the smart home integrations, smart TVs offer a contemporary twist to the home viewing experience.

However, they do come with challenges, such as potential privacy concerns and the need for consistent updates. Yet, the pros often overshadow the cons, especially for those who cherish being on the cutting edge of home tech. The convenience, variety, and customization options available make smart TVs an increasingly popular choice despite the higher cost. Therefore, it’s essential to weigh your particular needs, your budget, and your enthusiasm for new technologies when deciding if a smart TV is the linchpin for your home theater system.


1. What is a smart TV and how does it differ from a regular TV?

A smart TV is a television that is connected to the internet and comes with built-in applications and streaming services, offering more interactive web functionality. In contrast, a regular TV, often referred to as a non-smart TV, typically does not have internet connectivity or support apps and relies on traditional broadcasting or external devices for content.

2. Do I need an internet connection for a smart TV?

Yes, an internet connection is essential for a smart TV to utilize its smart features like accessing streaming services, using apps, and updating software. While you can use a smart TV without an internet connection, it will function like a regular TV in that case.

3. Can I install new apps on my smart TV?

Most smart TVs allow you to download and install new apps from their respective app store. However, the availability of apps may vary depending on the TV manufacturer and the operating system of the smart TV.

4. How do I ensure my smart TV stays updated with new features?

To keep your smart TV updated, ensure it’s connected to the internet so it can automatically download and install firmware updates. You can also manually check for updates in the TV’s settings menu.

5. Are there privacy risks with using a smart TV?

As with most internet-connected devices, there is a level of privacy risk associated with using smart TVs because they can collect data on your viewing habits and preferences. It’s important to secure your Wi-Fi network, understand the TV’s privacy policy, and utilize privacy settings whenever possible to minimize risks.