How To Tell If You Have A Smart TV?

If you are wondering how to tell if you have a smart TV, then you are in the right place. TVs have evolved in a similar way to cellphones. As you can remember, cell phones used to not do much other than make phone calls and the occasional text. It was the same with TVs. They used to just be one-way devices that could do nothing but tune into TV stations or cable channels. Now, TVs can get on Facebook, access video content from YouTube and other services, and can ran all sorts of other smart apps. 

The fastest way to find out if you have a smart TV or not is to open open the menu. If you see anything about apps or network settings, then you have a smart TV. If you are looking at the outside of the TV, check for an Ethernet port on the back of the TV. An ethernet point generally means that you have a smart TV, but there are plenty of non-smart TVs that have USB ports. If you don’t have a smart TV, you can always use a device like the Fire TV stick, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV. You could also just hook an old computer up to your TV and use a bluetooth remote. 

The good news is that if you come to the conclusion that you don’t have a smart TV, there are third party addons that convert any TV with an HDMI port into smart TV.

In this article, we will explain the fundamental differences between smart TVs and normal TVs. With this information, you will know how to tell if you have a smart TV. We will also tell you about some amazing devices that can make your regular either into a smart TV.  

Device Price Alexa Included
Amazon Fire Stick$24.49YES
Google Chromecast$29.99NO
Apple TV$200NO
Spare PC$0NO

What Is A Smart TV?

The difference between a standard toaster and smart toaster is the addition of a tiny, low-power computer chip. TVs and monitors have had 10 to 14 small computer systems keeping them running for quite a long time now. So, technically, all TVs that are not the old analog ones are smart to a degree, as all modern TVs are already computer controlled.

With that being said, a smart TV in the commonly accepted sense is a TV that has access to the internet and can play things like Hulu and Netflix. A smart TV is a TV that has a built-in multimedia-focused computer system that can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi.

Smart TVs can also play digital media files from USB flash drives. Right before smart TV’s came out, though, there were plenty of TVs that could play files from flash drives. So, just because your TV has a USB port that can do that does not mean that it can connect to the internet and play Netflix.

How To Tell If You Have A Smart TV

Check Your Menu 

If you are wondering how to tell if you have a smart TV, go into your TV’s menu and look around. If you see anything about a wireless or wired network connection, then you have a smart TV. Also, if you see anything in your TV’s menu in regard to Apps, then you know you have a smart TV. 

Remember, a standard TV can only tune into channels. To do anything beyond that, there needs to be either some sort of external equipment or some sort of built-in computer system.

So, if there is anything in your TVs menu that is related to the interfacing or technologies and media formats outside of the scope of simply tuning into channels, then you know you have a smart TV.

Check Your Remote Control

While it may not always be the case, smart TV remotes generally have special buttons on them that normal TV remotes don’t have. So, if your remote control has buttons for things like Hulu and Netflix, then that’s how to tell if you have a smart TV.

Keep in mind, not all smart TV remotes have dedicated app buttons. Remember, those TV companies have millions of old remotes sitting around that they have to find a use for.

Checking Your TV’s Startup Screen And Box

Most smart TV’s are not actually using their own smart system inside. This is because its far easier and often far lower cost for a TV manufacturer to simply integrate and already-established smart TV system.

Generally speaking, part of the requirement to integrate a third party smart TV system into a Television is to clearly show the brand of the smart TV system provider both on the  startup screen and on the TV’s box.

So if you want to know how to tell if you have a smart TV, check for a Roku logo on your TV screen when you first turn it on, or see any Roko or other third-party smart TV system logos on the TV box, then you have a smart TV.

Do Some Research On Your TV Model Number 

If you are having a hard time finding out if you have a smart TV or not, you can always just look it up. All you really have to do is Google your TV’s model number. On the product description page, it will clearly advertise if its a smart TV or not.

Smart TVs can do so much more than a regular TV, so if a company is selling a Television, they are going to clearly mark if its a smart TV or not.

What Features Make A TV Smart?

There are a set of particular features that you will find in a smart TV that cannot be found in a regular television. Here is a list of everything that makes a smart TV smart. 

Operating System

Unlike a standard television, a smart TV has an Operating System. In most smart TVs, the operating system is rather locked down. So, don’t expect to be able to make many customizations to the user interface. Also, you are not going to be installing any custom apps or unsupported programs.

Although the operating system in a smart TV functions exactly in the way that desktop and phone operating systems do, they are very limited. In a smart TV, all of the normal parts of an operating system 

Internet Connection

Most smart TVs allow you to browse the internet. Its important to keep in mind that a smart TV web browser is going to provide a very limited experience. For example, JavaScript either won’t run at all on a smart TV, or it has very limited functionality or unpredictable compatibility. So, don’t expect to have a full web experience on a smart TV.

Streaming Apps

One of the most desired features of a smart TV is its access to streaming apps. Services like Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Popcorn Time can be thought of as virtual channels.

Normal TVs can always tune into actual channels. A smart TV, on the other hand, can access streaming services as virtual channels by using its internet connection.


Some more recent smart TVs have the ability to play games. Don’t expect any fast action first person shooters, though. The kind of games you can play on a smart TV are going to be the kind of games that are possible to play with a TV remote control.

So, that means that your smart TV gaming experience is going to be limited to slow-paced casual games like words with friends and things like chess. There are, however, some more advanced smart TV models that are able to access the PlayStation Now game streaming service. These nicer smart TVs even have support for controllers. 

Music Streaming

Shows and movies are not the only form of media that smart TVs can play. Just about any smart TV will have support for music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, IHeartRadio, and more.

Streaming music to your TV may sound silly at first, but if you think about it, the living room TV is generally hooked up to the best sound system in the house. In addition to that, having a screen makes it so you can read the song lyrics or learn more about the band while you are listening to music.

There are also plenty of smart TVs that provide audio visualizations that can play on the screen in sync with the music. This makes it so that listening to your favorite music through your smart TV can actually provide a better experience than just listening to it on a loud receiver alone.

App Store

Unlike a normal TV, a smart TV has access to an app store. That means you can download various apps onto your TV. The ability to add apps makes it so your TV can be upgraded on a software level. 

Think about it. If you buy your TV and then a year later, you notice a new app in the store that is interesting to you, you can add that app to your TV. Now, the TV you bought a year ago is somewhat new again.

For this reason and many more, a smart TV is much more valuable than a regular TV.

Social Media

Using a smart TV, you can even access your social media. While it may not be super practical to create messages and new posts from a TV, it is very easy to read posts and messages from other people.

Most of the time, this is setup in a way that you can get your social media notifications on your TV, and you can respond to them on your phone. As you can expect, this can be somewhat annoying if you are trying to pay attention to what you are watching, so most people don’t do this. 

How To Make Your TV A Smart TV

If you want a smart TV but you don’t have the budget for one, we have some good news for you. There are several ways to convert an regular old TV into a smart TV. In fact, it can be argued that converting a normal TV to a smart TV can provide a much better experience than a native smart TV can.

1. Roku Express 4K

Roku is by far the number one smart TV system out there. You could either get a normal Roku streaming box or a compact HDMI streaming stick. Either way, the Roku hardware connects to your TV through its HDMI port like all the other devices on this list. 

Because Roku is the oldest and most developed streaming system, it has over 2,000 apps for you to choose from. Roku’s snappy performance and massive app selection are what make it the best way to make your TV a smart TV.

Not only does Roku have all the normal stuff like Netflix, NOW, Amazon Prime, Spotify, and Hulu, but it also has tons of other niche apps and services for news, sports, free movies, and more. 

The latest Roku devices support 4K streaming and HDR10 out of the box.

2. Fire TV Stick 4K Streaming Device with Alexa Voice Remote

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the easiest ways to convert a normal TV into a smart TV. Its a tiny device that you simply plug into your TV’s HDMI port. After that, all you have to do is connect the Fire Stick to the internet via your Wi-Fi connection.

Like other Fire TV devices, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is super simple to setup. It’s as easy as plugging it into your TV and following the onscreen instructions.

Unlike most other external smart TV solutions, the Amazon Fire TV includes the Alexa voice assistant. So, all you have to do is press the microphone button and tell Alexa what you want to watch. It also works with other Alexa compatible devices, you you can use your Fire powered TV to control your smart home and other devices.

3. Apple Streaming TV 4K HD Media Player

After the success that others have been having, you can’t expect Apple to just watch. Just like with any other Apple product, the best thing about Apple TV 4K is its features and interface. With Apple TV, you get access to the app store where you can download Apple TV+, Netflix, NOW, YouTube, Disney+, Spotify, and much more. 

Apple TV not only supports 4K video streaming, it also supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 to provide the best possible viewing experience. As you would expect, Apple TV links to your Apple ID, so that lets you access the music, movies, and Apple TV compatible games that you already own through the iTunes store.

4. Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)

Google’s Chromecast depends on Google TV technology and is very similar to The Amazon Fire TV Stick. Setup is almost exactly the same, just plug the Chromecast to into your TV’s HDMI port and connect it to Wi-Fi. As you have come to expect from Google, the Chromecast has an intuitive interface that is simple and fast to get going. 

The Chromecast is the lowest cost option when it comes to turning a regular TV into a smart TV. Also, the Chrome cast is the easiest device on this list to allows users to cast content from their mobile, laptop, or tablet.

Like Apple TV 4k, the third generation Chromecast supports 4K, and HDR.

Other Ways You Can Give A Dumb TV Smart Features

Connect A Gaming Console

Modern Xbox and PlayStation game consoles already have media and app capabilities built in. So, if you already have one of the current gen game consoles, then you really dont need to convert your normal TV to a smart TV. All you have to do is use the features that are already present on your favorite game console.

Connect A Dedicated PC 

If you have a spare PC that you dont use anymore, then you may be in luck. If you hook your old PC up to your TV and use one of the bluetooth computer remotes to control it, you will end up with a lot more performance and options than any dedicated streaming box or built-in smart TV hardware ever could ever provide.

Which Companies Make Smart TVs?

Just about all the major television manufacturers make smart TVs. That means if you are in the market for a smart TV, you can choose from companies like Sony, Toshiba, Philips, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, and more. 


Life cellphones, TVs have evolved into their smart counterparts that can do so much more than the old version. Now, TVs can access streaming services, music, movies, and can even get on Facebook and other social media platforms. 

The best way to find out if you have a smart TV is to take a look at the remote or the menu. If you do so and notice anything related to apps, streaming, or a network connection, then that means you have a smart TV. Another clear indicated of having a smart TV is an ethernet port. If your TV has an ethernet port, its more than likely a smart TV. The same cannot be said for USB ports, however, as a lot of non-smart TVs have those. If after reading this article, you discover that your TV is not a smart one, options like the Fire TV stick, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV can give your dumb TV smart features. As a last resort, you could simply attach an unused PC to your computer’s HDMI port and control it with a multimedia bluetooth remote. 

We hope this article helped you learn how to tell if you have a smart TV. Thanks for reading!

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