Home > Articles

Smart TVs: Viewing in a Connected World

For many people, today’s so-called “smart TVs” represent the first foray into the connected world of the Internet of Things. Just what is a smart TV, and how smart is it, really? Whether or not today’s smart TVs are truly part of the Internet of Things is an open question, but there’s no question that these connected viewing devices are changing the way people watch TV and movies. Read on to learn more in this chapter from The Internet of Things: How Smart TVs, Smart Cars, Smart Homes, and Smart Cities Are Changing the World.
This chapter is from the book

What Exactly Is Smart TV?

Let’s be honest. “Smart TV,” as the term is used today, is nothing more than marketing hype. The appellation refers to television sets or set-top boxes that offer connectivity to the Internet, typically via Wi-Fi wireless technology, as well as built-in Web 2.0 apps that enable viewing of various streaming video services, such as Netflix and Hulu. There’s nothing inherently smart about a smart TV; it’s a marketing term used to convey the ability to view Internet-based programming.

The concept of the smart TV isn’t particularly new. Smart TVs have been around since 2007 or so, under many different labels, including “connected” TV, “hybrid” TV, “IPTV,” and “Internet” TV. (One could even argue that the concept has actually been around since 1995’s WebTV box, which served as an Internet client for traditional TVs.)

Note that a smart TV doesn’t actually have to be a TV. Streaming media boxes and dongles that connect to a TV and offer the requisite streaming video connectivity also fit under the broad category of smart TV devices. So Roku and Apple TV settop boxes are smart TV devices, as are the Google Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick, and Amazon Fire Stick. For that matter, Blu-ray players and videogame consoles that offer streaming video connectivity are also classified as smart TV devices.

What’s Inside a Smart TV?

At its most basic, a smart TV is a television set that can connect to and interact with the Internet. In practical terms, that means the television must include the following:

  • Wi-Fi radio or Ethernet connection, for connecting to your home network.
  • Central processing unit (CPU), the computer brain that manages all the device’s operations and commands.
  • Operating system (OS) that serves as the interface between the CPU and software-based applications.
  • Graphical user interface (GUI) for displaying menus and other options.
  • Software-based apps that enable connection to various web-based services. For example, a smart TV might have built-in apps for Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora. Most smart TVs come with several apps pre-installed; some smart TVs enable additional apps to be installed after purchase.

Some smart TVs also include apps and associated technologies that enable the device to play back media stored on your home network. In some cases, this capability is built into the OS, as with the Apple TV; in other cases, this capability is enabled by DNLA or UPnP compatibility.

Some smart TVs include a built-in camera and microphone, like the one shown in Figure 3.1, for connecting with video-sharing and chat services, such as Skype. Some more advanced smart TVs use the built-in camera/microphone to navigate the onscreen menus, via a series of hand gestures or voice commands.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 The integrated camera on a Samsung smart TV.

Naturally, a smart television set (not a set-top box) will also include a traditional television tuner for viewing broadcast, cable, or satellite programming. You typically switch from the normal viewing screen to a GUI menu for the web-based services and apps.

All smart TVs are controlled by some sort of remote control. Some remotes are basic affairs, with just enough buttons to navigate the onscreen menus. Others include keyboards (useful for typing in search terms), trackpads, even game controllers. Most smart TVs can be controlled by universal remotes, such as those in the Logitech Harmony line. Some smart TVs can be controlled by smartphone or tablet apps.

Remember, too, that a smart TV doesn’t have to be a literal TV. A smart TV device, like the aforementioned Roku box, contains the same circuitry and apps as a literal smart TV, but without the TV part. Instead, the set-top box connects to a regular TV (typically via high-definition multimedia interface [HDMI]), enabling the TV to display media played on the external device.

What You Need to Use a Smart TV

Right out of the box, a smart TV has little or no functionality. To utilize all the features of a smart TV, you need to provide the following:

  • An Internet connection.
  • A home network that interfaces with your Internet connection. This can be a wireless (Wi-Fi) or wired (Ethernet) network.
  • Electricity. Duh.

If you have a smart TV set-top box, you’ll also need an HDMI cable to connect the device to your traditional television set.

What a Smart TV Does

So a smart TV is a TV or set-top box that integrates Internet capabilities. What exactly does that mean?

Most smart TVs can perform the following functions:

  • Connect to the Internet via a local network. That means connecting to your home network and sharing your Internet connection. Most smart TVs connect via Wi-Fi, although some can connect via Ethernet.
  • Play video content from web-based streaming video services, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video.
  • Play music from web-based streaming audio services, such as Pandora and Spotify.
  • Play digital media stored on other devices connected to your home network.
  • Access selected websites and web-based services, such as Facebook, Twitter, and AccuWeather. Some smart TVs offer full-fledged web browsers, although it’s more common to find discrete apps for specific sites and services.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020