Smart TV – what do you want from the internet on your TV?

A smart TV displaying a wide range of apps

Most of the TVs we test are now internet enabled. According to a recent survey however, smart TV services aren’t being widely used. Is this a surprise? We take a closer look…

What is smart TV?

A smart TV is one that can be connected to the internet via wi-fi or an ethernet cable to access a range of internet services. These services usually come in the form of apps. BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and Facebook are some well-known ones, but what you get depends on which TV brand and model you choose. Increasingly smart TVs are coming with full web browsers too.

Using these extras doesn’t seem to have caught on, though. A very large YouGov poll conducted recently said that just over half of smart TV owners don’t know what ‘smart’ actually means. Also, only a third of survey respondents said they are planning to buy a smart TV to use its internet functionality.

Why hasn’t it taken off?

The survey results aren’t hugely surprising. We think there are a few reasons…

  • Accessing some forms of  internet content, for example Facebook, Twitter and a lot of other interactive content, is usually easier on a smaller device like a smartphone, tablet or laptop where it’s easier to type
  • Not all smart TVs have wi-fi capability built-in, meaning the extra expense of a wi-fi dongle, or an inconvenient ethernet cable trailing to your router, is necessary
  • Equipment such as a Blu-ray player or games console with smart functionality can be cheaper to buy than a smart TV
  • Although manufacturers are coming up with smart remotes, keyboards and other devices to make controlling your smart TV easier, touchscreens on tablets and smartphones are still easier to use

On the other hand, some internet content, such as video on deman,d lends itself well to a smart TV – watching on a big screen is a more immersive experience.

What would make you use a smart TV? – our poll.

Do you currently use smart TV services? What do you do with it? Tell us in the comments section below!

What one improvement would most encourage you to use a smart TV more?

Built-in wi-fi (38%, 691 Votes)

Better ease of use (eg better remote control) (26%, 471 Votes)

Better web browser (19%, 353 Votes)

More/better video apps (8%, 155 Votes)

Other (8%, 144 Votes)

More/better games (1%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,837

Loading ... Loading ...

More on this…

Categories: The latest TV reviews, TV Services

Tagged as: ,

16 replies

  1. Too limited at present on what you can do. A Laptop or similar is the most flexible option right now when linked to a TV via HDMI cable. My “wish list” is for a PVR, which also allows Internet streaming based on my choice (not some very limited option) and plays all my MP3 and 4 files. I am Hoping Humax finally get to release a new Freesat PVR soon which has most of these features.

  2. If they ever get around to launching, YouView has the potential to fundamentally change the IP-connected TV world: http://www.youview.com/. It promises to have a well-designed EPG and a unified User Experience which makes allowances for the lower TV resolutions, situations of use and restricted input devices.

    People are likely to upgrade their FreeView/FreeSat STBs to a YouView STB and over time this could lead to market domination.

    And it’ll be subscription free.

    So I’ve got my fingers-crossed! ;)

  3. My smart Sony TV keeps losing its wi-fi connection and the advice from the Sony help centre is ‘restore to factory settings’ which is a pain and only lasts for a while and happens again. I can see the TV on my wi-fi network but there is no connection to the internet. I think the restore process is just like a reboot but takes twice as long. Also using the remote as a keyboard is time consuming and laborious.

    1. Sounds like interference with your WiFi signal. I had the same problem with my Samsung Smart TV. In the end I made sure that my router was set to use the same WiFi channel each time I switched it on, rather than automatically choosing what it thought was the best one. If you have a NetGear router (like mine) the user guide help is quite useful and informative on this front.

      The alternative to WiFi if you have an ethernet socket on your telly is to use a “network over power” adapter. This uses the normal mains wiring in your house to transmit the data between the adapters. You just plug one in next your router and the other next to your telly. They cost less than many manufacturers “dongles” and can give a more stable connection.

  4. Use it often (at least once or twice a week) with BBC iplayer or Lovefilm via a HomePlug network (ie. electric mains) connection to my router. Works well, occasional interruption but restarts are easy. Much better viewing on large TV screen than small laptop!

    I believe the TV to router connection causes more problems than any other item – any small interruption to wifi becomes very obvious when streamimg.

  5. I use BBC iPlayer a lot but most other terrestrial channels require you to download Flashplayer and my Samsung SMART TV comes up with the caption to say that it will not accept downloads.

    I get round this problem by plugging my Netbook into the TV but this only gives me the picture and I have to rely on the sound from my netbook. Not ideal but any port in a storm when you have missed the penultimate episode of Homeland.

  6. My Sony Blu-Ray palyer gives me the wifi router access, so the TV becomes effectively a smart TV….however I only use the BBC i-player function regularly as it is easy to use by one or two simple clicks on the remote. The Lovefilm option (and Youtube) is hopeless as it takes forever to use the remote keyboard to type words in, and then the film choice available on Lovefilm is poor, much worse than available via the normal postal service (which we still use in preference).

  7. I bought a Panasonic 42″ smart tv and found out the dongle to connect to my wi fi router costs £80 from Panasonic. I got one for £25 from Amazon. It wasn’t a branded dongle but works just as well. I now have the 32″ (wee brother) for the bedroom and use the dongle to watch iPlayer programs and very little else to be honest. The living room tv is just a tv now as we use the pc for internet

  8. I love my Panasonic Smart TV using it’s features especially the BBC iPlayer, You Tube and Facebook daily.
    I also use it to access my photos and listen to my music collection.
    My only regret is that it does not have Spotify on it.

  9. Interesting comments…

    @brin hughes – Sony has an app (I believe on Android as well as Apple), it might help with typing. I caught a brief glimpse of it the other day.

    @john mccolgan – Good for you! Were you lucky or did you do some research? We’ve done some experimenting and have found that, generally, unbranded dongles don’t work.

  10. I’m waiting for the Cotton Candy to come out (http://store.cstick.com/) which I’ll be plugging into an HDMI port on my current TV, and I’ll have a “smarter than smart” TV. At present I have a laptop hidden behind the TV doing the same job, but using a lot more power.

  11. I was told recently that my tv has the smart capability. I have no idea what this really means. I’m happy with the programmes available on my digital tv so I can’t see myself using the smart function. I am wary of watching too much tv so I doubt I would use it much. Plus I already have a computer for Internet.

  12. I don’t think it’s taken off because there’s no real market for it. You can really easily turn your normal HD TV into a smart one by using a Google TV dongle. The boxes you can get are so much more expensive and the dongle works great.

    I bought mine from http://visopix.com/shop/google-tv-dongle-android/ and I haven’t had a problem with it yet. It’s just like surfing the internet on a laptop without fussing around with cables. Because it’s android, you can download loads of free apps, like Netflix and Youtube and videos play at the same quality as they would on my laptop.

    It’s really simple to use – even my kids can use it without too much trouble. No need for a ridiculously expensive TV when you can get something for less than half the price which works just as well.

Create account

You can leave a reply without having a WordPress account, but if you do register you can upload an avatar. A WordPress account is not connected to your Which? login and cannot be used to login to which.co.uk or any other Which? services.

Sign up

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>