Tech N Toast®

Smart TV - a requirement of modern times

Smart TV

a normal television set + a computer + the internet

A normal television set - A box with loads of channels. This is a regular TV set, which receives signals from an antenna or satellite dish or through cable. We can watch live content, or record shows, sports events, films etc. for later viewing. We can also watch movies, songs, and pictures using pen drives and DVD players. Nowadays Flat screen televisions are very popular, available in different display technologies - LCD, LED, plasma, OLED etc.

A computer - It looks like a TV set, but more advanced. There are no TV channels, but we can watch live content if an internet connection is available. It also allows us to download programs to watch them later. We can install various types of applications to make our tasks easier. For example, skype app for video calls. Watch anything, anytime using pen drives, hard-drives, DVDs etc.    

The Internet - All computers and servers are connected via physical cables and wires. For example, we want to watch a movie on Netflix. Either we download its app, or we go to the website. The request goes to the server of Netflix, and then we are able to watch the movie. The whole process is possible because our computer or mobile phone has an internet connection.

A Smart TV - This is the main point of our technical discussion. We cannot imagine a Smart TV without an internet connection. A home internet connection over wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi to stay connected. We can use it as a mini-computer, or a television. There are lots of things to explore. Please note that we cannot use it for heavy tasks like graphic designing, video editing etc. It is good for those tasks that need a little space and the internet. It is also not possible to install unlimited apps because this type of television has limited storage. But, we can download unlimited content because it is possible to store everything on an external hard disk.

Go Online with Smart TV

Benefits -

1. This works like a normal television. We can watch all the channels, records programs, use externals devices like pen drive, DVD, hard drive to watch content.

2. Stream music, videos, and pictures.

3. Browse the Internet.

4. Download apps from the play store.

5. Watch content on Netflix, Amazon prime, YouTube etc. 
6. Download content from the internet.

7. Use chrome or Firefox browser, Google or Bing search engine, Wikipedia, Amazon for online shopping, social media apps, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, live games, other important apps and websites.

8. We can also connect smart home devices like lights, switches, various sensors, locks etc. In some Smart TVs, there is a separate window to control all the smart devices.

9. Mirror pictures and videos from a connected smartphone on a bigger screen.

In the end, I just want to say that it can do all those tasks, which are done using a normal television set and a mini-computer with limited resources. We can also add an external mouse, a keyboard, a camera, and a MIC to it if required.

Watching Smart TV

Disadvantages -

1. It is possible to install an app from an external source, which can bring malware to our TV.

2. Inbuilt apps from an unknown source can cause security threat.

3. Most of the Smart TVs are using the Android OS (Operating System), and its Play Store for installing apps. But, if the TV does not use the Android OS. The Operating System is not known to us, and there are lots of preloaded apps. Those apps are similar to the apps that we everyday use like Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Prime etc. Please note that these are not the original apps. We may try to open one of the apps by entering our user ID and password, or some other sensitive information. This data can be exported to a third party (a manufacturer or a hacker). We need to be extra careful if we are not sure about the Operating System and the preloaded apps in it.    

4. Hackers can use radio-transmitters to break into the security of the device.

5. Wi-Fi receivers in Smart TVs may not be very strong. If our Wi-Fi router is quite far, the TV may not receive wireless signal, or the weak wireless signal.

6. They can hang and crash. They are not immune to crashes and hang-ups. But, modern Smart TVs have powerful processor, stable components and memory, latest OS (Operating System) etc. to handle heavy tasks.

7. Security is not the priority of the Smart TV manufacturers. They just want to give better viewing experience, which makes the device a soft target for hackers, who can steal our passwords, change TV channels, collect our sensitive information, see our shopping habits etc. All of our actions can be secretly monitored. What we watch, set-top box information, which devices we use, which apps we use, cable systems etc. can be tracked. 

8. Even our private videos and pictures are not safe on Smart TVs. These videos and pictures can be stolen by hackers, and high chances of uploading them to a third-party server without letting us know. 

My advice - We should not be afraid of modern technology. It is important to keep a pace with modern technology, otherwise we will lag behind. Just be extra careful. Do not use Smart TV for online shopping, Credit Card/Debit Card processing, Email IDs and Passwords, online banking, and other important things. They are not as safe as our Laptops, computers, and mobile phones. Smart TVs should only be used for viewing content, which is already publicly available. Do not watch private videos and pictures while being connected to the Internet.

Security in Smart TV

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