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WHAT IS AN INTERNET
Answer: An Internet-enabled TV is
a set that is factory designed to connect directly to the Web and display content such as YouTube videos, weather reports and streaming movies or television shows.
sets differ from televisions that double as computer monitors -- although many can do that as well -- because no computer
or outside equipment is required to display the Web-based content. It is important to note, however, that viewable Internet
content varies by manufacturer.
For instance, Panasonic’s Internet-enabled TVs can stream material from YouTube and Amazon Video On Demand, plus material from Picasa Web Albums, Bloomberg News and a weather channel. Samsung’s
Internet-enabled TVs can do some of the same, plus display material from eBay and Twitter.
Internet-enabled sets have a variety of Web content available as well, and they include access to Netflix's vast library of films and TV shows.
Different manufacturers also have different names for
their Internet-enabled products. With Panasonic it’s Viera Cast, with Samsung it's Internet@TP and with LG it’s NetCast.
Because the offerings vary by manufacturer, it behooves you to check exactly what’s available in terms of online content
before making a purchase. Only that way will you be able to minimize the chance of buyer’s remorse.
To use the Internet-enabled functions
on any set, you must connect the television to the Internet.
In some cases, this can be done wirelessly, but most televisions require a wired Ethernet
connection. There is no charge for basic Internet functionality, but some services, like Netflix movie streaming and Amazon
Video On Demand, have content charges.
There are a multitude of terms
and phrases used to describe internet enabled TV’s.
There are many buzz words floating around at the moment which is hardly surprising
considering this is a relatively new and exiting technology. Phrases such as “Internet Ready”, “Web Enabled”
and “Smart TV’s” are becoming more and more common place, so what do these phrases mean?
Well essentially they all describe the same technologies
and features which are either methods of accessing web content or sharing media files across your local network.
So what are you going to be doing with
your internet enabled TV?
type of internet enabled TV you may wish to purchase depends greatly on exactly what you intend to do with it. Unless
you are fortunate enough to be able to afford a top of the range smart TV that is capable of all the latest internet TV wizardry
you will have to be very specific when identifying which roles your internet enabled TV will be expected to fulfil.
It is pointless buying a TV capable
of using twitter if you have no intention of tweeting or a TV with WIFI capability if it is sat in Ethernet cable distance
of your router, modem or computer. The simple fact of the matter is unless you are willing to pay top dollar you will need
to be specific in your needs and identify your internet TV’s required features before you embark on the search for your
perfect web enabled TV.
enabled TV’s currently have two methods of connecting to the internet or your local area network (In laymen’s
terms your router or modem) either wirelessly or via an Ethernet cable.
As a general rule an internet enabled TV with inbuilt WIFI will almost certainly
always have an accompanying Ethernet connection, just as a web enabled TV with an Ethernet port and no inbuilt WIFI will more
than likely have either a PCIMIA or USB add on card available from their manufacturer at an added cost which will add wireless
cards are often quite expensive and may require a firmware upgrade to function correctly, this extra cost and the technical
know how required to carry out the firmware upgrade should be taken into consideration at the time of the internet enabled
is also worth mentioning that some internet enabled TV’s are compatible with certain ordinary WIFI dongles intended
for use with PC’s and laptops available at a far reduced cost, so before you purchase that proprietary WIFI dongle make
a quick Google search it could bring you savings of up to 80% on the manufacturers often inflated hardware prices.
As is often the case each method has
its pros and cons.
No Wires cluttering up the place
Your internet enabled TV can be located
in any room or on any floor regardless of your router or modems location
Slower transfer speeds than a wired connection
Reduced frame rates when streaming HD content
Possible jumpy picture when viewing
web content such as Youtube or Hulu
Faster transfer speeds than wireless
in quality when viewing HD content
Stable pictures when viewing streamed content
Wires trailing to your brand new minimalist internet enabled TV
Your TV must be located relatively close
to your router or modem
Internet TV media streaming applications and
some technologies which are becoming standard on all almost all modern internet enabled TV’s.
DLNA (Digital living Network Alliance)
DLNA network example
DLNA is basically a set of rules which allows devices on your local network to
talk to each other. The communication which DLNA provides allows images, audio and videos to be shared between DLNA certified
devices throughout your home. The majority of internet enabled TV’s now come with DLNA as standard. To watch or listen
to music or movies on your smart TV you will need a DNLA certified streaming device such as a NAS (Network Attached Storage)
device or even a DLNA certified laptop which are becoming more common.
If however you are not prepared to purchase compatible hardware which can be expensive
you can use a free media server (find via web search) to stream content directly from your laptop or PC straight to your internet enabled TV.
UPnP (Universal plug and play)
UPnp is similar to DLNA in the respect it allows the sharing
of media files throughout your network.UPnp protocols allow compatible devices to locate and communicate with each other over
a network. Most internet enabled TV’s are UPnP compatible.
Manufacturers proprietary applications and technologies
Each internet enabled TV manufacturer has their own set of
applications & technologies which are often a take on their rivals own proprietary software. Each method generally always
achieves the same goal or purpose but is merely labelled or packaged in a different guise.
There are a great number of applications and technologies
currently in use by the most popular internet enabled TV manufacturers, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and LG. These applications
allow tasks traditionally only carried out on a laptop or PC to be undertaken in the comfort of you living room on your internet
websites such as twitter, google, youtube, hulu and even ebay are made possible via your internet enabled TV’s remote
control. Recently a number of internet enabled TV’s have been released which are able to be controlled directly via
the touch screen of Apple and android smart phones, some internet enabled TV’s are even offered with an inbuilt inbuilt
shazam type application used to identify songs playing in the soundtrack.
There’s a lot of buzz about TVs
that are Internet enabled or Internet ready, and for good reason. Televisions have always been home entertainment devices,
and the Internet has increasingly become part of the American entertainment experience. Because of this, the marriage between
flat screen and computer screen seems natural, but there are several things to consider before buying an Internet-enabled
Internet enabled TVs aren’t meant to replace
your desktop or laptop computer. They're not even meant for hardcore Web surfing. What they are meant to do is bring some
of the Web’s most-desired sites and most-innovative features into your living room.
Depending on the manufacturer, an Internet-enabled television
may allow you to stream videos from YouTube,
update your Twitter status, check the
weather or stream high-definition movies from Netflix. In other words, Web-based TV functions are mostly related to news and entertainment.
Know Which Features You Want
If you’ve decided on an Internet-enabled television,
the next step is figuring out what you want it to do. Many companies are manufacturing these TVs, and they have differing
Panasonic’s Viera Cast televisions allow you to stream videos from YouTube, view photo albums from Picasa and stream movies from Amazon Video on Demand. LG’s Internet-enabled TVs also stream YouTube videos,
but they do not have Amazon Video On Demand. They do, however, stream content from Netflix, which Panasonic sets cannot.
Because different TVs do different things,
it’s important to choose one that suits your needs.
Consider Other Devices
Internet-enabled TVs are great because they pack a lot of features into a single
unit, but chances are your home theater setup will also include a Blu-ray player or other home entertainment device. Increasingly, add-on units are coming with Internet
functionality. For instance, a number of today’s Blu-ray players are capable of streaming high-definition movies, displaying
content from YouTube and playing music from Pandora. If this takes care of your needs, you may be better off letting your outside components do the heavy lifting.
Don’t Forget Connectivity
When buying an Internet-enabled TV,
remember that you have to connect it to the Internet to access Web-based content, and many sets require hard wiring with an
Ethernet cable. Others connect wirelessly but require the purchase of an accessory (at additional cost). Because of this,
you should know in advance how you plan to connect to the Internet.
There are always solutions, but they can get costly. For instance, if you buy a
television that requires a wired connection but don’t have an Ethernet jack nearby, you can use a powerline adaptor. This works well but the adapters generally cost $100 or
A Glossary of Smart TV Terms
you wonder what HDCP or a dozen other terms mean, here's a quick guide.
A popular file-sharing protocol that people often use to distribute copyrighted video. The BitTorrent
protocol itself isn't illegal, but using it to download TV shows and movies that were released under
the usual copyright protections generally is.
A common set of analog ports (red, green, and blue) for high-def video. Technically, a component-video connection can deliver
video up to 1080p resolution ("Full HD").
The ubiquitous red-white-yellow ports are for composite video. However, because composite video (an analog format) cannot
deliver high-def video, avoid using composite-video ports whenever possible.
A newer display connector employed primarily for connecting laptop and desktop PCs to computer displays. But don't expect
to use it to connect your PC to your TV--at least not at this point.
Digital Living Network Alliance. DLNA is a standard that enables your HDTV, PC, and other gadgets to talk to one another and
share media over a network. For example, an Xbox 360 hooked up to your HDTV can stream video located on your desktop PC in
your home office.
DVI: The current standard for most desktop
PC displays. Some TVs have a DVI port, which can be useful. The DVI video signal is identical to the HDMI signal, so if your
PC supports only DVI video-out, a cheap adapter can connect your PC's DVI port to your HDTV's HDMI port.
HDCP: High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection--a form of digital video copy-protection technology
developed by Intel. If you use DVI, HDMI, or another digital video format to deliver video on your TV, you can play back HDCP-encrypted
video at full resolution without a problem. If you use an analog signal (VGA, composite, component), you may have to watch
your video at a lower resolution.
HDMI: High-Definition Multimedia
Interface is currently the preferred standard for connecting devices to a TV--PCs, smartphones, game consoles, digital cameras
and camcorders, and more. An HDMI cable carries both audio and video from a device to a TV, so it takes up less space.
Media center: Any application that makes it easier to navigate the music, photos,
podcasts, and videos in your local media library. Most media-center apps are designed to make home theater PCs more user-friendly
so that you can navigate your various media using a remote control rather than a keyboard and mouse. The apps can also run
on other devices, including set-top boxes and game consoles.
Mobile High-Definition Link--a new connection standard that allows smartphones to connect to HDTVs. If widely adopted, MHL
can let your smartphone charge while it is connected to your HDTV--and you can watch videos streaming or downloading from
VGA/D-Sub: Practically every PC you've ever owned
has a "VGA" or "D-Sub" connector. These two terms describe the same humble 15-pin monitor port still found
on most laptops and desktops, and on many HDTVs. VGA cables can deliver a full HD video to your TV, though it may not look
as good as it would over component or HDMI.
Video on demand:
Video services that let you choose what you want to watch from a video library; you pay a small fee for downloads or streams.