Q. I keep seeing ads on TV and at my local Best Buy for Smart TVs. What exactly is a Smart TV and how do I connect it if I buy one? — Sara A., Laredo, Texas.
Smart TV is a term used for a television or set-top box that can connect to your home Internet Wi-Fi network. It allows you to access the Internet, including video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, right on your television rather than on your computer, tablet or mobile phone.
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Here’s how you can connect a Smart TV or Smart TV set-top.
If you use a Smart TV set-top box, you will want one that has Wi-Fi built-in. This allows you to connect to the Internet using your home network without plugging your Internet cable directly to the TV or set-top. (If you don’t have a home network installed, here’s a guide on how to do it.)
With a Wi-Fi built-in set-top, such as these Blu-ray players, you connect the box to your TV just like you would with any DVD or any other Blu-ray player. Then, after turning on your TV and tuning to the source (for example, HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc) where the player is connected, you hit the Menu button of your player and search for the header that says Connect or Internet (Every one is a little different so just look for the Header that suggests connecting to the Internet.)
Click on that header and your player will search for available Internet connections in or near your home. Look on the screen for the one that has your home network’s name and click on it. The player will then begin connecting to your home network. (If your home network has a lock on it, you will get a prompt to type in your password.)
Once you are connected, go back to the Menu of your set-top box and search for the header that says Video or the name of a streaming service, such as Netflix. (You may need to download the service’s app, assuming it’s available on your Smart TV or set-top While Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are available on nearly all Smart TV devices, others such as Vudu, Sling TV or DIRECTV Now are only available on some.)
Then, click on the video service of your choice and you will get on-screen instructions on how to set up an account. If you already have an account, you can type in your account name and password.
If you use a Smart TV to access the Internet rather than a Smart set-top, the steps are basically identical if the TV has Wi-Fi built-in, which nearly all recent models do. You go to the TV’s Menu, click on Internet or Network (or any other name that suggests the Net), search for the available Wi-Fi networks, and then connect to your network. You then will be able to choose from the available streaming services via your TV’s menu.
If you use an older model Smart TV that does not have Wi-Fi built-in, but is Internet capable, it probably came with what’s known as a dongle. The dongle is a small antenna that plugs into the USB port of your TV and allows your set to capture the signal of your home network.
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— Phillip Swann