What is a smart TV?
Simply put, a smart TV is a TV that can connect to the internet. Some have web browsers built in, and most have access to apps that let the TVs access popular services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu Plus.
Keep in mind that these features, even at their best, tend to be inferior to dedicated devices like Roku boxes, Fire sticks, or Apple TV. Smart TVs’ integrated smart functions are often buggy and slow compared to stand-alone solutions.
Whether or not you want your TV to have apps, nearly all TVs released in 2015 are smart TVs. Only entry-level TVs with poor picture quality have no smart functionality at all. If you want a good TV, you’ll need to get a smart TV.
Samsung Smart TV 2015
Samsung’s smart offerings took a bit of a step back this year. There are fewer apps now that the platform has moved to the Tizen OS, but on the whole, the OS feels familiar and fairly intuitive to use.
The remote is sleek and works very well, though the lack of buttons could make finding your way around tricky at first. Samsung’s navigation guides (found in the menus) are useful in figuring out how to get around with voice and motion control.
The browser is pretty quick, though it was not able to handle all the HTML 5 tests we ran it through. An LG TV, by comparison, handled those just fine.
Sony’s Android TV 2015
Sony’s Android TV interface is nice and clean, and the apps that are present work well. Unfortunately, the selection is still pretty limited, though most of the popular apps are now available.
The included remote isn’t very good, and the touchpad remote is also pretty poor. For most people, the TV Sideview app for iOS and Android will likely be the best way to control and navigate the TV. You also get Google cast functionality, which is pretty useful.
You have a couple of different options for browsing the web on this TV, including Opera and Google Chrome,
LG WebOS 2.0 2015
LG’s WebOS smart platform continues to impress, with a gorgeous interface and great motion and voice-enabled remote.
The browser is a bit slow, though it did pass the Peacekeeper HTML 5 test, which Samsung’s did not. It also now has more apps than Samsung’s smart TVs (though we expect that will change with time).
If you don’t have complex needs and want an attractive, functional interface, LG’s is the one to beat.
Vizio Smart TV 2015
Vizio’s smart TV platform is pretty limited. It’s fine for accessing the basics – things like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or YouTube – but there’s not much selection beyond that.
The remote doesn’t have advanced features like motion control or voice input, but the M and P-series remotes do have a QWERTY keyboard on the back. All the Vizio remotes do have buttons for launching Netflix, Amazon Instant, and iHeart Radio, which let you skip the app launcher and get directly into those three apps.
Which apps are on a Smart TV?
Not all television brands have the same applications and functionality; it varies a lot. Some brands, like LG, have a full third party app store where you can even buy games from independent developers. Others come with only a limited set of official apps. You do not necessarily need a lot of applications, but make sure the ones that you are planning to use (like Netflix) are there.
|Samsung||Samsung Tizen Apps (Currently 270 [1080p] & 282 [4k] apps; full list here)||Yes|
|LG||LG WebOS Apps (Currently 412 apps, full list here)||Yes|
|Sony||Android TV Apps (Currently 92 apps)||Yes|
|Vizio||Yahoo Connect TV Apps (currently 105 apps)||No|