What are smart TVs?

The ability to send and receive information online has transformed the way we live, work and entertain ourselves. It has also brought about some of the biggest changes to our TV sets.

Smart TVs are transforming the humble television set and offer numerous services that rely on a connection to the Internet. 

Televisions have changed a great deal in the last couple of decades. From black and white to colour, rear projection to plasma or LCD, and now with the introduction of smart TVs, television technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds.

With the TV being the focal point of most lounge rooms, the device - that once only updated the family on the daily news or entertained them with their favourite TV show or movie - is now capable of much more.

To understand how we got to this point, it helps to look back to where it all started.

TV: A flashback

In the 20s and 30s, John Logie Baird and Vladimir Zworykin were the early pioneers of TV technology. In those days, families huddled around tiny black and white screens, relying on a set of rabbit ears to get reception.

In the 40s, 50s and 60s, televisions allowed people to watch the latest local and world news, and also became a source of entertainment, with programs like ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Bonanza’ becoming available.

As TVs became affordable through the 80s and 90s, they started to play an even larger role in family leisure time and in popular culture.  

'Appointment viewing' -  where the whole family sat down together to watch the Sunday night movie or their favourite series - became the norm, and TV drama cliff-hangers were the subject of office water cooler conversations.

The introduction of cable TV, videos and DVDs enabled people to watch more content on demand, rather than relying on the television stations’ scheduling, and again changed the role of the TV in our lives.

The big switch  

Gone are the days of traditional "appointment viewing" where the family huddled around black & white screens.

Australia recently made the switch from analogue television broadcasting to digital.

There were a few reasons for this switch:

  • More free to air channels became available
  • It gave people the ability to see electronic programme guides on the television
  • It allowed Australia to keep up with international TV programs, which began to film only in digital formats
  • It allowed people to watch TV in high definition.

The switch to digital TV also modified the devices that populated the lounge room. Older television sets now had to rely on digital set top boxes to receive a signal. 

Enter Smart TVs

The ability to send and receive information online has transformed the way we live, work and entertain ourselves; and the Internet has also brought about one of the biggest changes to our TV sets.

Smart TVs are essentially TV "computers" - they are connected to the Internet and can also access data from storage devices that are attached to them.

Typically, smart TVs can do everything older TVs can, connecting to your coaxial aerial, cable TV, Blu-ray or DVD player. In addition, they have the ability to get online using Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and read external devices that connect via a USB port.

This has allowed us to have access to entertainment like never before. Streaming services, the ability to download content, and “catch up” TV services have meant that we can customise our viewing experience. 

Smart TVs explained

Smart TVs, like smart phones, offer numerous services that rely on a connection to the Internet. These televisions offer:

  • Apps like YouTube or Vimeo
  • A web browser
  • Media streaming
  • Ability to read a USB drive and play stored media
  • On-demand video services
  • Catch-up TV services

What's next?

There are more changes on the horizon for the world of television sets.

TVs are now capable of displaying 4K resolution or Ultra High Definition (UHD) picture. UHD has four times more pixels than standard High Definition, ensuring increased clarity and a better viewing experience.  

There is also a shift towards High Dynamic Range (HDR) TVs. When a video is shot in HDR, it does a better job of capturing darker shadows and brighter whites, offering better picture quality.

With streaming services like Netflix already showing 4K content and looking to introduce HDR services, the hardware we use for home entertainment will also evolve.

While all of these advances  mean better quality entertainment, the size of files we stream or download will also increase. 

Access to a fast and reliable broadband network will help ensure all Australians are well placed to keep up with advances in television technology.

Check your address to see if you can connect to the nbn™ network.