Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Use Built-In Apps on Smart TV's

Anyone who has bought a new television in the past few years or is in the market has seen the advertisements showcasing the new "Smart TV".  If you are unsure of what exactly that means, it means these new televisions come standard with software on board which will integrate with applications, or apps.  These apps are much like those you would encounter on a smart phone or with Windows 8 and Server 2012 operating systems.  The integrated apps allow you to use programs directly through your television, something that was not possible in the past.  Some of the apps Smart TV's work with out of the box are:  

  • Streaming Video:  Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu
  • Streaming Music:  Pandora, Spotify
  • VoIP Apps:  Skype
  • Social Media:  Twitter, Facebook
  • Games
  • Weather
  • Health
Some of the apps are free to use while others will have a price tag attached.  Keep in mind if you are already paying for a service that has an app on your television, that plan normally covers any device you attach to it within a single plan.  For instance, after signing up with an account you can stream music from Pandora on your smart phone, ultrabook, and through your Smart TV with a single account.  A free account includes advertising, while a paid account removes all advertising.

Before you can use any of the apps on your Smart TV, you need to connect your television to the Internet via a wireless (WLAN) or wired (LAN) connection.   To connect to a wired network all you need to do is connect a cable from your DSL modem or cable router to the network input on the back of the television.  To connect to a wireless network, use the television remote to navigate to Settings then click Network.  Select WLAN, or wireless, and use the arrows to select the name of your wireless network once the list is populated.  Once the wireless network is selected, you will be prompted to type in the wireless password.  Using the remote, type in the numbers and letters that make up your password and hit enter.  This will verify the password for the network you selected.  Once this connects successfully, exit the network settings.

To use the apps, click the button on the television remote that connects you to the app screen.  NOTE:  This will be different for each manufacturer.  Some will say "Internet", "Apps", some will have specific app-named buttons, others will simply say "Smart TV".  Once at the app screen, browse through the apps available to find the ones you want to use.  The process of connecting your account to an app is different for each app provider.  Clicking on any app to connect to it will prompt you to enter information such as a user account and password, to log into your account on another device and type in a special code, or to go to a specific website address to verify the connection to your account.

Once an app has been connected to an account you can use the app anytime you want.  Normally you will only go through the process of connecting an account to an app just once.  However, sometimes you will be forced to reconnect an account after updates to the television software or an update to that specific app software.  This does not happen very often though, so setting the apps up and using them is well worth the effort.

Setting up apps to work with your Smart TV is different with each television manufacturer and app type, but can usually be done within five to ten minutes with an existing account for any specific app.  The beauty of using these apps is they connect to your existing home network.  This means the data usage is applied to the plan you already pay for giving you additional features and usage on an existing service usually at no additional cost.

Enjoy your new apps!

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