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Smart TVs explained

Smart TVs explained

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Last updated: 06 January 2022

Traditional television is slowly being phased out, while streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and TV catch-up are becoming the more common way that people watch their shows.

One way people get their fix is through smart TVs, but what exactly is a smart TV? We’ve put together a quick guide with everything you need to know.

What is a smart TV?

A smart TV is essentially your normal television set that has access to the internet via a broadband connection and has a variety of inbuilt apps. This means you can access a variety of streaming services like catch up TV, as well as YouTube and other websites. 

Some companies have gone one step further and developed TVs that have voice recognition services for switching channels or turning on and off. 

These days it’s actually very difficult to find a TV that isn’t smart; even the simplest of models will generally have access to iPlayer, meaning you can access BBC radio and TV content on demand.

Even if you have an old TV without any smart functionality, there are things you can do to essentially turn your TV into a smart TV

What companies make smart TVs?

Pretty much all of them, as soon as the technology became available in 2008 thanks to Samsung, it’s not surprising that all the big players got involved. Smart TVs are now available from all major manufactures, namely, Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic.

Which smart TV is the best?

Different options will have different perks, features and apps. We’ve broken down the four main manufactures to show what they can do for you


Sony uses the YouView smart EPG. This means you get the full spectrum of catch up applications, including iPlayer, ITV hub, more4 as well as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. The smart platform is powered by Android and developed by Google. It's simple but not quite as user-friendly some other models. One advantage is with some of the higher end models the remote comes with voice text input system.


Panasonic Smart TVs use a Firefox browser. Panasonic are big on customization, and you can play around with the home screen to contain your favourite apps. As of last yearm they incorporated Freeview play into all of their TVs meaning you can access any of your favourite catch up services as well as being to watch played in the last 7 days on Freeview.


Samsung boasts all of your catch-up services as well as Netflix and amazon but do not offer catch-up on all Freeview channels like some other TVs. What they do boast is one of the easiest to use interfaces, as with Sony some of the higher end TVs come with voice control remote.


LG TVs went through a change in 2014 and launched a service powered by webOS technology. This improved the slightly cluttered feel of their interface and introduced some useful features such as a launch bar at the bottom where you can load your favourite applications. LG also offer a magic remote with a moveable cursor onscreen which make it far easier to navigate the interface.

What is good about smart TVs?

  • A host of catch up and streaming services
  • Generally better sound and picture quality
  • Multiple accounts for different online services can be synched and accessed through your smart TV

What is bad about smart TVs?

  • More expensive
  • Require internet to run, so if you live in area without access to fibre optic broadband you may find traditional TV better
  • Applications can crash just like they would with a phone or a laptop

If you are looking for a better broadband connection to watch apps on your smart TV, with television content bundled in, then use our price comparison service to compare broadband and TV deals.


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Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.