What is smart TV? Best smart TVs for 2018

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How Do Smart TVs Work?
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How Are Smart TVs Related to the Internet?

Smart TV: what you need to know

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Get involved in our latest campaigns and find out how to take action. Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy. A smart TV is an internet-connected television that offers a range of online features, such as on-demand content from apps like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, access to streaming services like Netflix, and the ability to connect to other wireless devices like smartphones.

These internet-connected smart features help you get more out of your television. Most new TVs are now smart, with a wide range of models to choose from, including Best Buy smart TVs available at affordable prices. The definition of a smart TV is getting broader. High-end TVs now support voice control. It's not technically new, but the latest models from LG, Samsung and Sony now let you search for content on your TV rather than type or flick through channels.

This new feature means voice control is more useful than ever. Some TVs even double as smart hubs, giving you control over smart bulbs, thermostats and other devices without the need for an extra hub. In this guide, we'll explain what you get with smart TV, show you some of the best new models and tell you more about the smart features on each brands TVs.

We'll also show you how to stay secure and protect your privacy while using a smart TV. Just want to see great smart TVs? We've got hundreds of expertly-tested models to suit all needs and budgets in our TV reviews. Looking for information on a specific brand's smart system or if you're curious what data smart TVs capture about you use the links below to jump to a specific section of this page.

Some excellent new smart features combine with incredibly detailed images to make a brilliant Best Buy TV. We don't often recommend TVs like this one, but our experts were hugely impressed with the stunning detail and colours, and the exceptional sound.

It's a deserving Best Buy. We had high hopes for this TV and it didn't disappoint, with a Best Buy-worthy performance in our test lab. Wonderful picture quality, whether you're watching SD, HD or 4K content, is complimented by the excellent smart system that makes it easy to find all the content you want from streaming and catch-up apps. This inch model is another good value choice, with a sharp picture and pleasant sound backed up by an easy to use smart TV platform.

This set is one of the better small TVs, with its easy to use, customisable smart system, and Freeview Play, which is a simple way to use catch-up TV services from the electronic programme guide. The vast majority of modern televisions now have 'smart' capability, with only a handful of small TVs releasing without access to smart features.

You don't need to connect a smart TV to the internet to just watch regular television, but if you do go online there are various benefits, including:. Samsung's Tizen smart TV platform has evolved since its launch in into one of the best around. That said, while the other major TV brands have incorporated services such as Freeview Play and YouView handy smart electronic programme guides with catch-up TV built-in Samsung hasn't gone with the crowd.

We've found Samsung's smart-TV platform to be easy to use, although getting around is a bit more of a challenge on TVs with just the standard remote. More expensive Samsung TVs come with a voice-control remote - this has been dubbed the 'One Remote' for the latest models. While it lacks a motion-sensitive on-screen pointer that we see from other manufacturers, the One Remote can control compatible devices that are attached to the TV, such as sound bars and Blu-ray players, making it a sort of universal remote.

This smart home tech gives you control of smart devices, such as light bulbs and thermostats from your TV. The advanced features Bixby brings, includes searching for movies and TV shows starring specific actors, checking the weather and answering questions. Find your new Samsung set with our Samsung TV reviews. It features a 'launcher' bar at the bottom of the screen that allows you to quickly jump into things like the TV guide, apps or the web browser.

You can customise the launcher with your favourite services by dragging and dropping them into the order you want. This software combines catch-up TV features with the electronic programme guide, so you can see what shows are coming up and what you might've missed from one menu.

Just like Samsung, LG offers two types of remote control - a standard version and one known as the 'Magic' remote, with a moveable cursor on screen for clicking on apps and icons. It's great for smart-TV functions, but it's only included free on the pricier TVs, otherwise you'll have to buy it separately. The vast majority of LG's support the Magic remote. With the right devices, you could get alerts on your TV when the washing machine had finished its cycle, or when the timer was done on your oven.

Voice commands will be more advanced on the TVs, too. You'll be able to search for content with specific actors and directors and the TVs will be better at recommending content based on these searches.

Only the Magic remote has the built-in microphone for voice control. Browse our latest LG TV reviews. It's not as easy to use as Samsung and LG, but it's a clean, simple interface - the sort you'd expect from Google.

Sony has kept things traditional in terms of remote controls. The remote that comes with Sony's higher end TVs has voice text input system but otherwise it looks much like a traditional remote.

There's no motion-controlled cursor that could make navigating the smart TV platform easier. The remotes are simple, but some have a built-in microphone that lets you control certain aspects of the TV with your voice. You can ask the TV to go to specific channels and search for specific movies and shows, to see if they're are airing on any channels or streaming apps you have installed.

Find your perfect Sony set in our Sony TV reviews. Panasonic's smart-TV service is powered by Firefox, the popular web browser. Its big focus is customisation, with a homescreen you can personalise with your favourite and most-used apps. Freeview Play is a standard feature on its smart TVs. From our recent tests, we've found Panasonic's smart-TV service is OK to use, although there's definitely room for improvement.

It feels a little clunky when compared to likes of Samsung and LG, but generally it's fairly intuitive. Panasonic's range will be compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. As long as you have a Google Home or Amazon Alexa you'll be able to control features on your TV, such as changing channels, adjusting volume and selecting inputs.

It's a handy feature, especially if you're prone to losing the remote. Browse expertly-tested models in our Panasonic TV reviews. Need help getting other devices connected to your TV. Use our free tool to see exactly which devices to wire in to which connection and further advice on hooking up everything from a sound bar to a smartphone.

Smart-TV makers - including those listed above - are able to track and monitor the way you use your television like never before, including what you watch, what buttons you press on the remote and the websites you visit on your TV's browser.

This can have benefits, such as more personalised recommendations of things to watch, but there are also potential downsides. In theory, the TV brands can gather vast quantities of data on you and, in some cases, use that information to make money through posting targeted adverts on your smart-TV service. You can decline them and still watch TV. In many cases, however, that results in you losing access to some smart functionality of the TV.

We're calling on the TV manufacturers to be more upfront about what they're tracking, and why, plus give you clearer options to opt out if you want to. Here's a brand-by-brand breakdown of how to turn any tracking off, and what you lose if you do:. Shockingly, we were able to pull the actual audio out of the raw data drawn from the Samsung models.

This means if you haven't secured your wi-fi and if someone's eavesdropping on your network, they could hear what you say to your TV. Samsung said that it deployed a software update on 11 March that it claims encrypts the voice search data. This extended to all Samsung smart TVs at the end of March. As long as the TV has the latest software update this vulnerability should no longer be an issue, but we'll be checking this for ourselves. If you own a Samsung smart TV and want to disable voice recognition — meaning the TV no longer stands in readiness for you to say 'hi TV' and activate the voice features - head to the Settings menu and select Smart Features.

Then go to Voice Recognition and switch it off. Panasonic told us that its TVs do not "constantly monitor conversations", but it advises users not to "include any personal information in the voice commands". It said that it plans to launch a software update that will encrypt the voice data. Voice search is only activated on Panasonic TVs if you hold down the microphone button on the remote control.

Some TVs have an 'info bar' feature that listens out for your voice and activates various features on the TV. This can be turned off in the smart-TV settings menu. When connecting any device to the internet, including a television, it is vitally important to protect yourself from the more negative aspects of the online world, including hackers and malicious threats. Here's some steps to make your TV more secure while going online. Best Buy sound bars Upgrade your TV's sound with one of these fantastic, easy-to-install sound systems.

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Join the conversation on health Talk about the burning issues that matter to you at Which? Given the popularity of smartphones, such as the iPhone, it's entirely possible that the concept of a "connected device" could easily translate to a television.

But what is a smart TV and what does it do? Like a smartphone, a smart TV offers a number of "internet connected services" that normal televisions can't offer. It has the equivalent of a computer built into it, giving you a greater number of services.

IPTV is a specific type of internet video standard, but is now also used as shorthand for any video streamed via the internet to your TV. It can take the form of short clips or continuous "live" channels.

While these features aren't new, and have been a part of some televisions and set-top boxes since , the term "smart TV" has given them a name. While smart TVs have plenty of whizz-bang features, there is one that promises to revolutionise how we use our televisions. If you currently download a lot of video or music from the net, then the right smart TV can access that content directly without you having to copy it onto a disk or USB stick! All of the smart TVs currently accept an Ethernet cable at the back of the TV, while most also support wireless connection.

To connect to the internet, you will need to set up a home network , and the process is very similar to connecting a laptop. Our preferred method is a wired connection, however, and while you will need to hide the cable away, it will provide a much more stable link. Smart devices have been with us for a long time. According to Wikipedia, the first smartphone was released in The IBM Simon was a touchscreen phone before its time with applications that we now take for granted, such as email, a calendar, an address book and games.

Aside from lacking productivity functions, such as email and word processing, a smart TV is a lot like a computer. It enables you to browse the web, watch YouTube and catch up on social networking. Some of the TVs such as Samsung currently support Flash as well, which means a better web browsing experience. However, as the category is new, there are inevitably features that will come and go.

For example, how many people will use Facebook -- which to many is a private activity -- on a TV in front of their family when they can easily use a laptop in front of the TV?

To us, the most exciting capability of smart TV is the ability to watch video on demand. On most TVs you'll also find dozens of specialty channels offering surfing, football, music and almost anything else you can imagine. If you just want to sit down in front of the TV and relax without having to choose something else every three minutes, then services like Bigpond TV currently on Samsung and LG offer "regular" channels of music and sport.

We look at some of the sports content currently offered here. Panasonic is making a big deal of its forthcoming games titles, which will include titles by Gameloft, in addition to a number of exercise games that utilise an optional monitor wrist band. Skype is another new application, which, with the addition of a webcam, lets you talk to your friends and family on your TV.

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