By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –Follow on Facebook & X.
Former editor of 4 TV magazines. Author of TV Dot Com.

TV Answer Man, we are seniors so we don’t understand everything about new TV things. Can you explain what a Smart TV is? How does it work if I get one? — Beth, Dover, Delaware. 

Beth, 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. Here’s how you can connect a Smart TV or Smart TV set-top.

How Smart TV Works

The Smart TV set-top box, such as a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick, 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.

With a Wi-Fi built-in set-top, you connect the box to your TV just like you would with a DVD or 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. (Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are available on nearly all Smart TV devices.)

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 TV 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.

Beth, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than three decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television. See the bio for Phillip Swann here.