Much like computers, TVs are now coming with computer operating systems installed. You’ll already no doubt be familiar with the likes of Windows, Apple iOS platforms like El Capitan, High Sierra, or Android’s Lollipop from their use on desktops, laptops, or tablets. So let’s get familiar with the various operating systems in new smart TVs, and what differentiates them from eachother.
All about TV operating systems
Do I really need a TV with a computer brain?
Smart TVs are the way of the future, and those TVs include capabilities like streaming, internet connection and the ability to access content remotely. Since streaming is gaining in popularity as it allows you to watch your favourite movies and shows on your own schedule, it makes sense that smart functions are standard on most new TVs now.
One advantage of having a smart TV is that you won’t need a separate external device for TV streaming or for playing content from your phone, tablet or computer, to your TV. Smart TVs make sense because they take the most used appliance in the home and make it even more useful to everyone in the family.
What are the major TV Operating systems?
Let’s take a look at some of the brands and operating systems you might find when shopping for a new smart TV:
TV OS: WebOS
Manufacturer/TVs you’ll find it on: LG Smart TV
-Users can customize their favourite channels, adding them into the bottom launcher bar to keep them close at hand.
-You can access the LG Content Store, the company’s one stop shop for TV programs, Movies, 3D content, apps and more.
-Smart Share feature lets you share multimedia like photos or home videos from your computer or smart device, directly to the TV.
-Cute ‘Bean Bird’ character guides you though any help.
-WebOS 2.0 was recently launched as a new and improved version of WebOS
Impressions: WebOS used to be the software that Palm devices used (remember Palm Pre from back in the day?). It was sold to LG and vastly improved upon to make it more versatile, and it’s since migrated to function on TVs.
TV OS: Tizen
Manufacturer/TVs you’ll find it on: Samsung
-Samsung calls Tizen the “OS of Everything” since it’s used in devices from wearables to mobile smartphones and even in vehicles.
-Very similar to LG’s WebOS, Tizen uses ‘cards’ along the bottom navigation bar to stash channels or apps.
-A motion activated remote control, not unlike a Wii controller, helps you navigate the colourful and easy to understand menus
-Tizen recently underwent an upgrade, making it faster and more responsive
Impressions: Critics love the Tizen OS, praising it as uber-responsive, very easy to use, and a joy to look at and interact with.
TV OS: Android
Manufacturer/TVs you’ll find it on: Sony, Philips, Sharp
-Made by powerhouse Google, Android TV aims to bring all the things you enjoy on your Android smartphone, to your TV set.
-Cast content from your smartphone or computer directly to the TV
-Provides a familiar interface to Android users
-Voice control and easy to navigate menus keep the operation simple and streamlined. You can also customize your TV interface to make it look exactly as you want it.
-Users of Google Chromecast TV will find similarities in how this system operates now that it also comes built into TVs
Impressions: I’ve had the pleasure of testing Google’s Chromecast dongle extensively and I’ve found it ultra easy to use and to navigate. Everything you could want is with easy reach, and you can also easily cast content from even your Apple laptop to the Chromecast device thanks to the easy to use OS. Read more about my Chromecast experience here.
TV OS: Roku
Manufacturer/TVs you’ll find it on: Insignia, Sharp, some LG TVs
-A simple to use and easy to navigate layered menu helps you surf available channels and keep content organized.
-Cast media from your smartphone or computer to your TV via the Roku OS.
-Roku TVs use a simple, personalized home screen, 3,000+ streaming channels and powerful search and discovery features of the Roku OS with our TV manufacturers various hardware designs
Impressions: Having used the Roku Streaming Stick extensively over the last few years, I can tell you the platform is easy to use and bug-free. All the channels you’ll want, and even hundreds you may not want yet are all available on the system. I’ve never had any bugs or crashes.
TV OS: AppleTV
Manufacturer/TVs you’ll find it on: Apple TV
-easy to operate and understand
-seamless and intuitive interface, stream media from your Apple devices
-huge array of available content, often exclusive or early access content too
-voice search capabilities on newer models
-now available in 4K resolution
Impressions: While you won’t find apple making physical TV sets, they are continuing to offer Apple TV as a content portal and streaming device. For many years they’ve had the most available content and the best offerings, making it a worthwhile investment. Bugs and crashes are rare if you keep up with firmware upgrades.
What you need to get the most from your Smart TV
You’ll need two key things when moving to a smart TV, but fortunately many people already have them in their homes.
High speed internet and a good, fast and powerful router (see what’s at Best Buy here) but you can also often connect via Ethernet cable if you don’t have Wi-Fi.
In the end, the TV OS platform you choose may have more to do with what OS you run at home on your computer or smart devices. You’ll want something that works seamlessly and easily across devices. Of course price may also be a factor too. Either way, do you research and ask for help so you can make sure you get the most from your new smart TV, whichever OS you end up with.