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smart TV

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A smart TV is a digital television that is, essentially, an Internet-connected, storage-aware computer specialized for entertainment. 

Smart TVs are available as stand-alone products but regular televisions can also be made “smart” through set-top boxes that enable advanced functions.

Besides being able to receive cable and satellite or over the air (OTA) transmission passively, smart TVs are outfited with extra hardware and connection types, as well as a TV operating system with a GUI. These adaptations allow viewers to access and control features for streaming content from Internet video services and connected devices.

Typically, smart TVs support Ethernet, Wifi, USB, Bluetooth and flash memory cards from digital cameras, as well as coaxial cable, HDMI and other audio-video connections. Along with the OS and apps, the connectors enable on demand video services and access to pictures, music and video on connected storage devices. Smart TV apps allow connection to websites like Youtube, Netflix, Hulu and Vimeo and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.   

Smart TVs can connect to many potential input devices wirelessly, to enhance usability and control. Wireless keyboards and mice, cell phones and tablet PCs can all connect to facilitate text entry, navigation and Web browsing from the couch.

Although smart TVs and other smart devices provide greater functionality, there is some concern that they pose a threat to personal privacy and security. At the 2013 Black Hat convention, for example, SeungJin "Beist" Lee showed attendees how cameras and microphones on smart TVs can be turned into state-of-the-art snooping devices by malicious hackers.

This was last updated in August 2013

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