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Smart TV: the facts

By Anika Hillery | 10:12 am 07/10/2011

What do I need to connect a smart TV?

A home network, which means a broadband connection, ISP provider and a modem router. All Smart TVs will connect via wired Ethernet cable to the router, but many allow a wireless connection, either via built-in WiFi or a dongle that inserts into a USB port on the TV chassis. If you can live with a length of trailing blue cable from your router to the TV, a wired connection is your best shot at enjoying stutter-free video.

If my TV goes out onto the net, what’s the deal with viruses and malware?

For a long time, Apple computers flew beneath the radar of hackers who were better rewarded by developing malicious code for the 98 percent of computers that ran Windows. With the growing popularity of Macs, users have only recently become a target for spam, viruses and other net nasties, and it is likely to be the same with Smart TVs in the future.

Currently, though, there is simply too small an install base and too many propriety operating systems for hackers to warrant chasing a return from. This means that having a TV connected to your network – and even surfing the web – on a Smart TV puts you at virtual zero risk from nefarious meddlers.

But what if I’ve just bought a TV?

Some Smart TV features can be found in web-enabled PVR set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and home theatre systems. Connect one of these to your home network and existing television and chances are you’ll enjoy IPTV, apps and more without the far greater expense of buying a Smart TV.

Be aware, though, that because manufacturers want you to buy their big ticket items, all the features of their Smart TVs won’t necessarily be available in these lesser-cost AV components. So be sure to check the fine print to make sure you’re getting the smart functionality you want.

What are the drawbacks of Smart TV?

The biggest impediment to your enjoyment of Smart TV is the limited content available via IPTV and apps stores. The creation of compelling apps by third-party developers is being stymied by the proprietary approach major TV brands have taken to their app stores, and much of the great IPTV content available to overseas consumers is off-limits here because local TV broadcasters have bought the rights to transmit them.

Poor broadband speeds can also be a problem, with video especially prone to stuttering and break-ups while streaming over a WiFi network. In addition, the large size of IPTV video files can be a problem for people on low data plans. Rent a couple of movies from an online video store or stream internet radio for a few days and it’s easy to exceed your monthly quota and incur extra charges – or have your service throttled back.

A good solution here is to choose an ISP that offers unmetered downloads for IPTV services. BigPond, for instance, doesn’t charge for data used while accessing its movie and TV services. These are presently found on LG and Samsung Smart TVs.

Is Smart TV worth it?

Definitely. A Smart TV is the current state of the art in consumer display technology, but online-networky-IPTV-appiness is not the only story. Premium Smart TVs exhibit luxe industrial design and are home to image making credentials – 200Hz processing, Edge-LED backlighting, precision dimming for superior contrast, 3D and more – that will satisfy for years to come.

Moreover, apps and IPTV services will explode, and today’s Smart TV will be able to take advantage of the potentially limitless content this promises.

 

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