Regular TV vs Smart TV: What’s the Difference?

When shopping around for TVs, you will almost certainly come across both smart TVs and non-smart units, so what’s the difference? Smart TVs have started to dominate the market as they offer a lot more connectivity and functionality to a single company. While most major TV manufacturers have broken into the smart TV market, regular TVs still exist and are still popular. 

The key differences between a smart TV and a regular TV are Wi-Fi connectivity and accessibility. Smart TVs add basic access to streaming apps, while standard TVs will need additional connections and devices to provide content. Most people would prefer a smart TV but for some, constant contact. 

Smart TVs provide an all-in-one solution for consumers. This means all you need to start watching your favorite movies and shows is to plug in the unit and get it hooked up to the internet. Cable and other traditional sources, like DVD and Blue-Ray players, are now just less alluring to consumers since smart TV offer much easier and convenient streaming options. Smart TVs separate themselves from regular TVs with this one key difference. 

The Main Difference Between Regular And Smart TVs: Connectivity and Apps

Essentially, smart TVs have a small and simple onboard computer system built-in. This is what allows you to stream shows and movies. It works with a basic operating system with an easy-to-use GUI. However, since it is a computer, you need to have access to the internet. TVs with this kind of capability will either have a wireless card inside or an ethernet port on the back of the unit. Or maybe both.

This will allow the device to communicate over your home network and access the internet. This means you can access more than your cable provider gives you in the traditional cable box system. Smart TVs have access to streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and more, a simple web browser, and access to more advanced connectivity with other devices.

Netflix? You’ll Need A Streaming Device If You Don’t Own A Smart TV.

You will need to source an external streaming device like a Chromecast (on Amazon) or an Amazon Fire Stick (also on Amazon) with a regular TV. These devices will add some of the functionality you get with a Smart TV. Some smart TVs have even more functions, though, that aren’t provided with a simple streaming stick.

If you have security cameras, then you may be able to download certain apps that will allow you to access the video feed. There are even ways to set up your doorbell camera to give you the feed live when someone is at your door, on your Smart TV. Smart TVs can also be connected to other devices, like a smart speaker. This will allow you to speak commands and control your TV.

Some streaming sticks, particularly the Amazon Fire Stick (also on Amazon), allow for this feature. As you can see, smart TVs give you access to some great entertainment sources. Since they are connected to the internet, you have even more opportunities to choose the apps and entertainment you want to enjoy when you want to enjoy them, but do all these extra features come with an added cost?

Are Smart TVs More Expensive?

Smart TVs have come a long way in the last decade. With the beginning of the streaming age, it became incredibly important to give consumers access to their favorite apps on the big screen instead of just using phones or computers. This is why smart TV has become so popular. And what was once an expensive feature is now becoming more and more cost-effective.

Smart TVs do carry a slightly larger price tag than a regular TV. But, you may be surprised to find out that the premium for a smart TV is not much more. Products like the TCL 32 Inch 3-Series (on Amazon) are reasonably priced and have access to smart functions with the built-in Roku TV system. 

Compare the TCL to regular TV like the Sansui 32 inch (also on Amazon), and you are only looking at about a $20 difference in price. The demand for TVs with smart functions has driven the market to the point where smart TVs are about the same price as other TVs.

Regular TVs Are Slowly Being Phased Out

You would be hard-pressed to find a non-smart TV nowadays. Almost all major manufacturers have gotten on board the trend and have only produced TVs with these added functions in recent years. While it is impossible to find a non-smart TV, you are almost limiting yourself by not sourcing one.

But there are other costs to think about when it comes to purchasing a regular TV, including things like the price of a cable subscription, the price for a streaming stick/device, if you wanted one, as well as the costs for cables and connections. It may not seem like a lot, but it may be more than a smart TV when you factor all these costs in. Even though smart TVs add a lot of functionality to your entertainment system, they are not without their downsides.

What Are the Downsides of a Smart TV?

There are two main downsides to owning only a smart TV for your home entertainment. They are:

  • Reliance on Wi-Fi Connection – While this feature is the prime driver for a Smart TV’s function, it can also be a downside if you have less reliable internet. If your Wi-Fi goes down, then you no longer have access to streaming apps or a lot of smart features. This can be a big problem if you live in a rural community or someplace far away from a city or metropolitan area.
  • Cost of Streaming Subscriptions – The upfront cost of your new smart TV is just one part of the equation. To appreciate the cost of using a streaming-only system, you need to factor in all the subscriptions, which adds up over time. It’s wise to have an unlimited internet plan if you choose to go this route, too, because all those streaming services use your data, whereas a cable subscription wouldn’t have any data caps.

These are just two of some of the more common issues you could run into. While Wi-Fi is undoubtedly a sticking point, the cost of the streaming apps is relative. The long and short of it is, compared to an $80+ cable subscription, you will most certainly come out on top.

With the average price for a service like Netflix or Hulu being around $10-$15, you’d have to be using 8+ apps to reach the cost of cable. This is one of the main reasons why people have been “cutting the cable” and only relying on their streaming apps and smart TVs, in addition to the fact that cable services are notoriously difficult to deal with.

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