Smart TV Vs. Digital TV? Understand The Difference (Beginners)

Do you still get confused about the difference between smart TVs and digital TVs? 

They both took home entertainment to a higher level, but they have notable differences. 

But what exactly sets them apart?

Here’s What You Need to Know about Smart TVs and Digital TV. 

Smart TVs are Internet-enabled TVs that allow users to watch content from apps or websites, such as Netflix and YouTube. Digital TV, meanwhile, is now considered the standard for regular TVs. They can only connect to the Internet with the assistance of third-party devices. 

What is the Difference between Digital TV and Smart TV?

The main difference between a digital TV and a smart TV is the connectivity options available for these TVs. 

Digital TVs get content primarily through HD antennas, while smart TVs can use HD antennas or connect to the Internet to get content.

With digital TVs, you can’t control much of what’s on your TV, save for just changing the channels and waiting for your favorite program. 

With smart TVs, you gain access to video-on-demand streaming services, which means you can choose what program you want to watch whenever you like. 

When Do You Need a Smart TV?

You need a smart TV if you are looking to watch content from video streaming sites, such as Netflix or YouTube, on your TV. 

A smart TV also fits the bill if you are looking to integrate your home entertainment system with your existing smart home system. 

Can You Use a Smart TV as a Regular TV?

You can use a smart TV as a regular TV without any problem. 

Modern smart TVs have built-in digital converters, often referred to as digital boxes. That allows smart TVs to receive signals from HD antennas to watch free-to-air channels. 

Are There Any Advantages to Digital TVs? 

The advantage of digital TV over a smart TV is that they are more affordable to use, and all you have to do is plug them in after you’ve set up the HD antenna. You don’t have to pay for subscriptions to streaming services, nor high bandwidth Internet.

However, smart TVs are becoming more affordable, so the price difference between digital TVs and smart TVs is getting smaller. 

Are There Any Disadvantages to Smart TVs?

With smart TVs becoming more affordable, you might think is smart TV is the obvious choice. Unfortunately, there’s a catch.

The reason smart TVs are getting cheaper by the minute is because of the data manufacturers get from you.

  • When you connect your TV to the Internet, smart TV manufacturers gain access to your data. They can collect data on your viewing habits, including the kind of programs you prefer watching.
  • The data they collect is sold to advertisers, who, in turn, can tailor-fit your advertising content based on the information they receive from your smart TV.
  • While you can opt not to connect to the Internet, that would defeat the purpose of having a smart TV in the first place.

Another disadvantage of using a smart TV is security. 

  • Connecting your smart TV to the Internet is kind of like leaving your front door unlocked. A smart TV connected to the Internet is prone to hackers or even identity theft.
  • If a hacker gains access to your smart TV, they may be able to access your payment credentials and other important information to commit fraud under your name.
  • In cases where smart TVs have built-in cameras, hackers can spy and see who is in the room. That’s one of the reasons modern smart TVs no longer have built-in cameras.

But don’t be totally dissuaded from buying a smart TV. 

While manufacturers are likely selling your data to advertisers to run down prices, it does make the prices hard to beat!

More importantly, there are ways to mitigate the security risks when connecting your smart TV to the Internet.

  • As mentioned, you can always disconnect from the Internet if you are not using the smart features.
  • If you are willing to invest a few dollars a month, you can go for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) subscription. VPNs encrypt data sent and received on your smart TV to keep you safe from hackers.

Do Smart TVs Have Hidden Cameras and Microphones?

Most new smart TVs don’t have cameras and microphones. If they do, it will be noted in the manual.

If you want to check if your smart TV has a hidden camera or microphone, these are often placed in the middle of the smart TV’s upper frame. 

In some cases, the camera and microphone are hidden by a retracting mechanism. You should consult the manual of your smart TV to check if it has cameras or microphones, hidden or otherwise. 

If you want to know more about hidden cameras of smart TVs, you can check out our article Where Are Cameras & Mics hidden on Smart TVs? (Solved!). You may also want to check our recommended smart TVs without cameras to avoid spying.

What Are the Most Popular Smart TVs? 

There are many good smart TVs on the market worth checking out. The popularity of these TVs depends on the features. 

LG CX

If you are looking for a 4k OLED display, the LG CX is the king. 

This smart TV is an entry-level offering from LG. It features wide viewing angles, exceptional handling of light, and it can temper its blacks for the perfect shade in dim environments. 

The downside of this smart TV is its risk of burn-in, which happens if you keep your screen static for long periods. 

Samsung Q80T

For those who want a 4k LED TV, the Samsung Q80T is a great choice. 

Like the CX, the Q80T has good wide angles and exceptional color calibration. It can handle different lighting conditions so that you can watch TV at any time of the day or night. 

The disadvantage of the Q80T is that some units have a propensity for a dirty screen effect. But this is pretty negligible and often only occurs on the sides or corners of the screen. 

Vizio P Series Quantum X

If you are looking into HDR content, the Vizio P Series Quantum X should be on your list. 

The P Series Quantum X is a 4k smart TV with a wide color gamut to enhance HDR content. It also has exceptional full-array local dimming, wide viewing angles, and a remarkable contrast ratio. 

The downside to this smart TV is its scaling feature, which can be quite mediocre. Content from 480p and 720p resolutions doesn’t scale up well, so you may not get the best viewing of those old DVDs. 

Sony

For those looking for a wide app selection, then any Sony smart TV should do the trick.

Sony uses the Android TV platform, which has a wide app selection that’s close to what you can get on Android smartphones.

It’s also easy to sideload other compatible Android apps on these smart TVs, too.

Hisense H8G

If you are on a budget, the Hisense H8G is a worthy consideration. 

The H8G is an affordable 4k smart TV that can handle different lighting conditions. The contrast ratio is remarkable, and the full-array local dimming enhances contrasts. 

Blacks are decent, and it can handle reflections quite well. Its HDR handling works on Dolby Vision and HDR10+ with a wide color gamut. 

The weakness of the H8G is its narrow viewing angles. 

Can You Turn a Digital TV into a Smart TV? 

With the help of media streaming devices, you can turn a digital TV into a smart TV with minimal costs. 

These devices plug into your smart TV’s HDMI port and come with remote controls that help you navigate through the interface. 

Like smart TVs, these devices connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi. Some devices can also connect to the Internet through an ethernet cable. 

What Are the Best Options for Streaming Devices for Digital TVs? 

If you are looking to turn your digital TV into a smart TV, there are many options for streaming devices that can do the job.

On top of the list would be the Nvidia Shield. 

  • The Shield was designed with gamers in mind. Instead of having a remote control, the Shield has a game controller that you can use to navigate through its interface.
  • The Shield runs off Android TV, which gives you a lot of options for apps.
  • It also features an Ethernet port option, as well as a micro-SD card reader to expand the internal storage.
  • While this streaming device has powerful features, the Shield’s voice command is mediocre, and it is quite pricey.

For those looking for adorable streaming devices, a good option to look at would be the Fire TV Stick or the Roku Streaming Stick. 

  • These compact sticks easily tuck away behind your TV and let you watch your favorite streaming programs.
  • They are quite affordable and easy to use.
  • They may not have powerful features like the Shield or gaming consoles, but for those wanting a simple, straight-forward option, these devices work remarkably.
  • For more information, check out our article Are Fire TV Sticks And Roku Sticks The Same? (Explained For Beginners).

Another good option is Chromecast. 

  • The Chromecast is the most flexible among the devices listed due to the different connectivity options.
  • The downside is its dependence on a device to stream content from. Unlike the Fire TV Stick or Roku Streaming Stick, the Chromecast needs to “receive” information from a device, such as a smartphone or a Google Chrome browser on a computer. It then reads the data and takes off from there, while you can exit the app on your smartphone or computer.
  • Check out our article Smart TV Vs. Chromecast? 14 Easy Answers (For Beginners) for more information.

You can also use your Microsoft Xbox or Sony Playstation 4 or 5 to turn your digital TV into a smart TV. 

  • Modern gaming consoles allow you to install video streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Disney+, to name a few.
  • However, gaming consoles are expensive, so it’s not advisable to buy them for the sake of streaming.

Final Thoughts 

While they may seem similar, digital TV and smart TVs are quite different from each other, as smart TVs can connect to the Internet, where you can access apps and streaming services. 

They both have their strengths and weaknesses, which cater to different kinds of consumers with particular home entertainment needs. 

 

Sources:

8 things to keep in mind when buying a TV

The Difference Between A Digital TV And Smart TV

The 6 Best 4k TVs – Winter 2021

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