What is connected TV?

An Internet-enabled TV is a TV designed to connect to the Internet and display content from online sources. You can use Internet TV to watch YouTube videos, check the weather, stream Netflix shows, rent movies on Amazon Prime, or perform any other task available on the Internet.

In most cases, Internet-equipped TVs (often called smart TVs) offer the same functionality as hardware streaming devices like Roku or Apple TV, as well as the usual TV channels available through an antenna or cable/satellite subscription.

You'll need a high-speed internet connection and unlimited or ample data from your internet provider to take advantage of all the features of a connected TV.

Smart TVs are produced by several manufacturers including LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

These devices differ from TVs that double as computer monitors—although many TVs can do that as well—because no computer or external device is required to display web content. However, it's worth noting that viewable Internet content varies by manufacturer. All major TV manufacturers make smart TVs with beautiful displays, so choosing the right set for you can be difficult.

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What is a smart TV?

When you buy an Internet TV, make sure you know what features it has. If you are an audiophile, streaming music apps may be important to you. If you're a gamer, you'll want to check your video game compatibility. The set of features used by each manufacturer varies from model to model. Popular free and paid features offered by Internet TV include:

  • Apps that work like mobile apps
  • Amazon Video on Demand
  • Youtube
  • Spotify
  • Netflix
  • gourd
  • live streaming
  • sporty
  • video games
  • X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and other social networking applications
  • News and print publishing channels
  • Music services (Napster, Pandora, Slacker)
  • photography services
  • weather

Amazon has released a feature comparison chart to help you make your smart TV buying decision. These may change, but this is a good starting point.

To use Internet-enabled features on your TV, you must connect your TV to the Internet. In most cases this can be done wirelessly (a wireless router is required), but some TVs require a wired Ethernet connection. Once your TV is connected to a wireless router via cable or directly to a modem, it uses your high-speed broadband Internet connection to stream Internet content.

There's no extra charge for basic internet functionality on your TV, but some services, like Netflix and Amazon Video, require a subscription fee if you want to use them. If you find yourself streaming a lot of content, you may need to upgrade your internet data limit with your internet provider.