It used to be easy to buy a TV. You’ll decide on a budget, see how much space you have, and choose a TV based on screen size, clarity, and the manufacturer’s reputation. Then came smart TVs, which made things more complicated.
All major Smart TV operating systems (OS) are very similar and can be used with the same set of other apps and products. There are exceptions, such as Roku’s temporary spat with Google that cut off access to Youtube for some TV users, but for the most part, no matter which brand you choose, you won’t miss a big opportunity.
However, the web OS of the top three brands, Vizio, Samsung and LG, have unique advantages that may make their products perfect for you. Other smart TV systems such as Roku, Fire TV and Android or Google TV should also be considered before choosing the OS that’s right for you. The TV itself should also be considered; you can have the smoothest and most versatile operating system in the world, but if the TV it’s running on doesn’t have the features it needs to run, using it will be torture.
Vizio Smart TV: affordable doesn’t always mean bad
Vizio smart TVs are at the bottom of the price range. But that doesn’t make them bad: if all you want is a solidly built TV that runs apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube without issue, you’ve made a bargain. The price doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a low-definition TV. If you want to experience 4K for less than $300, the Vizio might be the right choice, although Vizio has a tiered lineup that includes some premium models. If you choose something from Vizio’s premium range, you can spend thousands of dollars on Vizio.
All Vizio TVs run the Smartcast operating system, which includes Chromecast and Apple AirPlay. So if you need something that makes it easy to play media from your phone, tablet, or laptop without any third-party hardware, a Vizio TV is worth considering. You also get access to thousands of apps, including apps from the usual suspects (Netflix, Hulu, Youtube) and free live streaming solutions. Smartcast also has an app that turns your phone into a remote control and is compatible with all major smart home systems.
One potential issue with Vizio TVs that you should be aware of is related to the use of ads. An advertising banner appeared on the main screen of the device, and some problematic applications, such as CourtTV, were preinstalled. Vizio is also experimenting with ads that appear when you watch a live stream on your device. While the latter feature is still in beta and FOX is currently the only network, it can be a weak link when it comes to intrusive TV ads.
Samsung is a technology industry leader and a manufacturer of quality products. If you choose a smart TV from this Korean company, you will get a high quality and well polished product. And you will probably pay a premium for it too.
Samsung TVs run Eden UI, a user interface based on Samsung’s Tizen operating system, which is featured on a number of its products. Samsung smart TVs are controlled by a voice remote, which can also control accessories such as soundbars.
A distinctive feature of Tizen OS is a small control menu that you can call up in the bottom third of the screen. You can use this panel to browse your apps, watch shows, and even preview content without interrupting any streaming services or cable channels on your screen.
It also integrates with SmartThings, Samsung’s app for all smart home devices. Again, using an app to control your smart TV isn’t unique, but SmartThings can add an extra layer of connectivity that will allow your smart TV to work seamlessly with the rest of your smart home. (This may not be a unique selling point for a long time, as an upcoming standard called Matter could improve smart home compatibility with other smart TV brands.)