There’s a rising trend to tweet and post on Facebook about the current episode of whatever reality TV hit is tearing up the airwaves, as the show goes to air.
Until now, this has meant either having a notebook PC open on the coffee table, or using a smartphone or tablet.
Smart TVs of course have all the big social media apps, but more than that they support picture-in-picture control. So you can watch the big game, or the latest episode of Competitive Cooking and Renovation Show, and keep an eye on a Twitter feed or Facebook chat on the side, with the chat or trending Twitter topic that goes nationwide, or even global.
Worried about input? Smart TVs also support USB keyboards, and some support Bluetooth wireless keyboard connections too. There are even TVs where the remote has a keyboard on the back, for the ultimate in streamlined access.
6. It eliminates all those boxes…
For the last decade, the number of so-called set-top boxes attached to our TV has grown and grown.
First there was Pay TV, then an HD digital receiver, then a personal video recorder, then a games console, then something that lets you connect your tablet, phone or camera to the TV, then a Bluetooth dongle.
A smart TV eliminates almost all of these boxes: it has multiple built-in HD TV receivers, it can record TV to a thumbdrive or attached HDD, it communicates with compatible phones and tablets via WiFi or Bluetooth.
And most of all, apps onboard mean you can receive on-demand pay TV services on some smart TVs for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated box and its associated installation cost.
In fact the only thing a smart TV doesn’t have rolled into it is a hardcore gaming console like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. But there are game apps, for a bit of casual fun.
5. It can be upgraded as new features are released
Increasing numbers of smart TVs are being sold with expansion ports in the back.
The idea is that once the manufacturer invents a new interface, new app features, or other enhancements independent of the actual LCD display, then you can plug in a special module to upgrade. The module contains a new CPU and can also include new memory and other components, which bypass the CPU on the TV’s original motherboard.
This gives the TV a longer lifespan in your home, as you can bet advances in features and processing power will happen a lot faster than advances in display technology.
Upgrade modules give you peace of mind that the TV won’t be made obsolete in 18 months like that $5000 1080p plasma you bought a year ago…
4. It’s the ultimate videophone
You might think of Skype or other videocall services on a TV as being kind of a fun gimmick, but it turns out this is one of the best ways to communicate long-distance.
Virtually free, it’s easy to get connected (just a few clicks of the remote) and you’ll be surprised how relaxed and natural chatting in a lounge room environment can be. No awkward chin-shots from an upward-pointing webcam on a notebook screen, no collapsing tablet stands, no job-interview-like desk-to-desk study call.
Just you on the couch, chilling and chatting naturally with someone else on a couch.
Of course if they’re using a smartphone or a tablet their head can look pretty giant on your 55 inch TV, but hey – at least you look good.