Long gone are the days when your TV screen just showed your favorite show or broadcasted the game.
Now you can choose what you want to watch, when you want to, and even talk to a friend over Skype on the screen while doing it.
This year, half of U.S. homes with Internet have a Smart TV. That means 46 million TVs are accessing the web, either through gaming consoles, streaming media players or a Smart TV interface.
Here are four ways to make the most of your TV by making it a Smart TV this fall – just in time for football, network show season premieres and movie nights on the weekends.
1. Get the best picture possible with 4K Ultra HD
- 4K or Ultra HD is four times sharper than HDTV. It’s simple – HDTV has 2 million pixels and a 4K UHD TV has 8 million. While football won’t be broadcast in 4K this fall, UHD TVs will still upscale and boost the picture quality to make the big plays pop even more so.
- More 4K UHD content is becoming available all the time. DirecTV just launched its 4K Genie Mini box, which allows users to watch the latest movies in 4K quality. Netflix was already an early adopter in streaming 4K content; you can watch shows like House of Cards and Breaking Bad in UHD.
- This fall, 4K UHD TVs can be found starting as low as $599.99, as the price of this new TV technology has become more affordable.
- And now through Sept. 12, save up to $300 on select TVs. If you buy a TV that’s 51 inches or larger, you can get free home delivery.
2. Make the most of your streaming device whether it’s Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV
- Don’t have a smart TV? No worries – Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and other streaming devices turn your big screen into a smart one with ease.
- Access your favorite apps, such as Netflix or Hulu, and just connect to your TV provider to gain access to top channels like ESPN, Comedy Central and HBO.
- Don’t search for the remote – make your phone or tablet the remote. Apple TV easily puts your iOS device in control, as can Chromecast, and the Roku app turns your tablet or phone into a remote/keyboard.
- Want to make things even easier? Roku also has a slick Voice Search option — just say what you want to watch and sit back and relax.
3. Easily show off your photos and home videos on your TV
- Don’t be limited to sharing your favorite photos or videos on your phone or tablet. You can showcase them on your big-screen TV.
- Smart TVs have sharing services/apps like iPhoto and Flickr, which can sync wirelessly to your photo library.
- Connect your phone or camera to your TV with an HDMI cable or pop the SD card out of your camera and into the slot in your TV.
- With AirPlay Mirroring, your Apple device can share content through your Apple TV. Chromecast also makes it easy to mirror content no matter the phone.
4. Explore all your Smart TV has to offer
- Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Go, Pandora and the web are just one click away. Not only that, but Skype, too.
- Don’t crowd around a tablet or a phone to Skype with friends and family — open up the app within the Smart TV’s app interface and share moments on the big screen.
- Some Sony TVs have Social Viewing that lets you chat with friends over Skype while you’re still watching your favorite TV show or the football game, too.
- And if you want to take the slick interface of Roku and have it already be part of your Smart TV — check out the Insignia Roku TV or the Sharp Roku TV.