Smart TVs, which are televisions that are integrated with the Internet are steadily being integrated into modern lifestyles. At this point Smart TVs have not yet dominated the market or become "standard", but these electronics are on their way to becoming more common in today's households.
In a world that is continuously and increasingly becoming connected, it is not surprising that Smart TVs are making way into consumer households. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many big name companies introduced their latest models of Smart TVs.
While mobile, tablets and even household appliances become connected, the way technology is progressing, it seems television is definitely among the next group of electronics to make the leap into the online space.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to owning a Smart TV. Consumers considering purchasing one should be aware of what's involved before making the hefty investment into the purchase of one.
• Integrated TV viewing experience
Smart TVs extend far beyond switching on a television, selecting a channel and sitting down to watch. With the Internet component, this generation of TVs are designed for an interactive experience that includes being able to access YouTube videos, play online games, participate in video conferences and even check into what's happening on one's social media account. Additionally, as Business Insider mentions, online streaming of movies from Netflix and Hulu are another option for Smart TV owners.
• Making television "social"
Manufacturers of Smart TVs have created them to be highly interactive. These high-tech TVs can offer recommendations to the viewer of what shows or movies to watch based on what friends have seen and/or offer suggestions based on what information is stored by the user on a mobile device.
• Augmented reality
As the line between the "real" and virtual worlds continue to blur, Smart TVs also integrate some augmented reality components that erase the boundaries between the human and the television.
One of the perceived advantages, not unlike other digital devices, is the convenience factor. Owners of Smart TVs can relax from the comforts of their living room and connect to all their online activity from one spot, and also enjoy the convenice of suggestions based on social and behavior rather than having to dig through channel menus to find something to watch.
Much like any other digital device that connects online, Smart TVs also have features that have alerted to privacy and security concerns. In recent years, several concerns have emerged about Smart TVs getting exploited or afflicted with malware or hackers merging porn into children's programming.
Will TVs need to be bundled with anti-virus and firewall software? Time will tell.
Loss of privacy is another potential drawback. Potential problems that have been brought up by privacy advocates include possible spying through cameras included in the TVs, eavesdropping from the TV to the physical room the viewer is in, loss of sensitive data, and access to personal information. There is also the facial recognition technology to consider. As technology progresses, this could lead to serious privacy breaches.
In Nov. 2012, a report in Computerworld said, "Like most technology in its “infancy,” security will not be addressed until something bad happens to a lot of people and then security will be bolted on as an afterthought." The Computerworld article explains some potential risks that may come with Smart TVs.
Another thing to consider is, do you truly want to be connected all the time? Even when it comes time to relax and watch enlightening, entertaining or even mindless television programming? Do you want your friends to know what you are watching?
Future of Smart TVs
Smart TVs have been on the market for a couple of years now, and as the technology is perfected and consumer demand rises for these products, the prices on these electronics are bound to decrease, meaning the TVs will be more affordable. It is possible that Smart TVs will become the norm and replace traditional TVs, as new generations of TVs are steadily upgraded.
The important thing, however, is to know what you are buying and understand the pros and cons associated with Smart TVs.