What is a smart TV? The best apps, games and features to know

4th June, 2020
Amelia T. | Author
Family Watching TV

Want to take your home viewing experience up a level (or three)? Then a smart TV might be exactly what you need.

Imagine a slick flat-screen TV. Now, imagine it with seamless internet connectivity, powerful processors, high definition and a user-friendly interface - and you’ve got a smart TV. Smart TVs are more like smartphones or tablets than traditional TVs, offering a whole host of exciting online features for viewers to choose from at the touch of a button. Pretty exciting.

But, what is a smart TV exactly? How do they work and what are the best smart TV apps, games and features? Keep reading, as we reveal all.

LG Electronics LED Smart TV

What is a smart TV and what does the term mean?

Let us explain. They’re like a computer – only without email and word processing functions – offering you extra features such as media streaming, apps, games and web browsing, as well as watching your favourite shows, of course. Much like our trusty smartphones, smart TVs offer numerous internet-connected services that you can’t get from a standard television.

How does a smart TV work?

Wondering how to use your smart TV? You can connect a smart TV directly to your WiFi network or via an ethernet cable so that it can access the internet. Either log in or set up an account and start personalising your smart TV.

Then, choose from a multitude of different apps (much like you would on your smartphone) and you can also download more apps by searching for them. Smart TVs are easy to use, simply click on the app you want, and you will be taken through to that page.

What does a smart TV do?

You might have guessed that smart TVs can do MUCH more than your humble regular TV. For us, the main advantage of a smart TV is the interconnectivity it brings. Seamlessly sync your smartphone, Skype, Facebook, Netflix and much more at the touch of a button. You don’t have to faff around connecting other devices or wires, as everything is already built-in – result.

There are so many great things to do with a smart TV - the possibilities are endless. Here are some of our favourite smart TV benefits, apps, games and features:

Stream on-demand content, instantly

On-demand is one of the best features of a smart TV – allowing you to catch up on your favourite day-to-day shows so you never have to miss an episode again. You can stream anything you want in an instant. Choose from a selection of specialty channels to watch sports and films – whatever takes your fancy. Get BT Sport, ITV Hub, All 4, iPlayer and more.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, you can also cast programmes to your device from your phone, tablet or laptop.

Access Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video

Want to stream films and shows from Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video? It’s easy. Most smart TVs have these apps built right in, but you can download any extra apps you might be after in seconds. Sign in and get ready to binge-watch to your heart’s content (as long as you pay for an account, obviously).

Browse the web

The built-in web browser in a smart TV enables you to access the internet, view web pages and watch videos – all from the comfort of your living room (or wherever your TV is). No need to go and dig out your laptop to catch up on today’s news headlines or research some trivia for your next family quiz.

Watch videos on YouTube

Whether you want to boogie to your favourite tunes or follow a step-by-step cooking tutorial on the big screen, having access to YouTube through your television can be invaluable. It’s one of the key apps to have on your smart TV.

Listen to music

Listen to your favourite singles and albums from up-and-coming popstars and musical legends alike by connecting your Spotify account with your smart TV. Access millions of songs, with more added every day, and take charge of the soundtrack of your daily life. It’s a fantastic smart TV feature that you won’t know how you ever lived without.

Scroll on social media

Can’t be bothered to move rooms and switch on the computer? Smartphone out of reach? Well then, you’ll be glad to know that you can still catch up with your friends and stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok via your smart television – handy, huh? Let the scrolling commence…

Access countless apps from your smart TV in an instant.

Play fun smart TV games

Keep the whole family entertained with a wide range of smart TV games – or better yet, why not host a games night and take turns to play your favourite game on the television? Play everything from Sudoku to Solitaire, Guess Who and Pac Man. It’s like a modern-day version of board games. Who needs an Xbox when you’ve got a smart TV?

Use an all-in-one remote

Imagine a world where one remote can control everything – oh wait, it already exists… Well, it controls everything to do with your TV. Let’s look at it as convenience instead of laziness.

When you invest in a television, you want to be able to find the content easily. One Remote for QLED TVs from Samsung, and the Magic Remote for Smart TVs from LG do the same thing – in that they make it easier than ever for you to pick a show, adjust settings, control multiple devices and more.

They even have a dedicated button you can talk into and adjust settings or pick what to watch, and you can launch apps like Netflix, Prime Video and Rakouten with their own dedicated buttons. You can control all of your connected devices on one unit – like Blu-Ray players and games consoles – and even use your phone to control your smart TV.

Sync with other smart devices

Another cool smart TV feature is that you can connect it with other smart devices like Bixby, Amazon Alexa and Google Nest. This means you can control everything from the lighting to the thermostat, music and much more.

Find out more about the greatest Google Nest features and commands in our guide.

Use voice-control

Once you’ve connected any compatible smart devices to your TV, you can turn your television on, change channels, control volume and more, with words. Voice assistants let you take more control over your TV without lifting a finger. Stream your favourite content from the apps you love just by asking, plus you can mute, rewind – you name it. “Hey Google, play Stranger Things on Netflix…”

Skype friends and family

If you live far away from family and friends, Skype is a great way of keeping in touch. But, instead of everyone crowding around a small webcam on your computer or trying to fit everyone in the picture on your phone (which can be very tricky, trust us), keep in touch through the television.

Connect calls through the big screen so you can clearly see who you’re talking to and enjoy better quality video calls with the people you love.

Cast to your device

Another great feature of smart TVs is casting – an entertainment feature that gets everyone involved. You can cast content via a Google Chromecast or straight from your mobile device onto your TV. Whether you’re using Samsung SmartThings, AirPlay for iOS devices or LG Smart Share, you can cast and/or mirror your phone screen, using your voice or with a click of your mouse. It’s that easy. And you can carry on using the device as you were while the content is playing, without interruption.

Watch home videos and create photo slideshows

Relive precious memories by watching home videos through your smart TV. Simply hook it up to your phone, press play and settle down with a big tub of sweet or salty popcorn.

Maybe you’ve recently uploaded photos from a birthday party or a friend’s wedding. Use your favourite snaps to create a slideshow for everyone to enjoy on the big screen.

Find other useful smart TV apps

Did you know that you can access a multitude of other apps all without leaving your sofa? Find out the weather, listen to the radio, catch up on the news, take on daily fitness workouts – whatever you fancy, smart TV apps have everything you need.

Our top picks

We know that there are lots of things to consider when choosing a smart TV and as an investment purchase, you don’t want to make the wrong decision. So, we’ve done the hard work for you and put together a list of our favourite smart TVs.

  1. Samsung 55" QN85A Neo QLED 4K QHDR 1500 NeoSlim Smart TV - the ultra-fine, super-sharp adaptive AI-powered 4K processor on this Samsung TV will ensure that you are watching in the highest quality possible. The picture is so intense, it’ll take your breath away! The multi-view technology allows you to split the TV screen and watch what’s on the screen and your smartphone simultaneously. The 3D surround sound creates a dynamic viewing experience that is totally immersive and the TV itself is elegant, slim and contemporary – the perfect addition to any modern home.
  2. Samsung 55" The Frame QLED 4K QHDR Art Mode Smart TV - this award-winning lifestyle TV has 4K UHD picture quality and is so easy to use with its interactive and customisable Smart Hub platform. It was designed to sit inside a frame to look like a real picture and seamlessly blend into your home interiors. Customise the frame and mount it to the wall with the minimal slim fit wall mount – this is a TV like no other.
  3. Samsung 55" Q70A QLED 4K QHDR AirSlim Smart TV – this flawless 4k screen with cutting-edge technology will adapt to your surroundings to deliver the best picture possible. Ideal for gaming, QLED makes super-smooth, ultra-crisp HDR gaming a reality with no screen tearing or stuttering. Your favourite voice assistants like Bixby, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are also built-in so you can control your TV without moving a muscle.

For more smart TV recommendations, check out our article on the best new TVs available.

So, now you know how much more you can do with a smart TV, what are you waiting for? Browse the full range of smart televisions at BT Shop today or find out more information about the products we offer here at BT.

Our top Smart TV picks:

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