SMART TVs? In the FuneralProfession?

Anyone opening our 'Blog' page will doubtless wonder why a page talking about SMART TVs should be staring them in the face?

Regular visitors to our Blog will find a variety of topics which are not all related directly to funerals or maybe they are connected but more, INdirectly!

Breaking away from funeral topics as such, our industry, in fact, all of our lives are surrounded, influenced and somewhat dominated by, technology.

In our workplace, we all have computers. WE all have screens or monitors or, TVs.

In an effort to improve our IT - Information Technology knowledge, we/I have decided to undertake (pun?) to write some pertinent articles and since Internet access is simple, once connected to a network, a Smart TV is simply another tool in our device armoury.

Truthfully, I was asked for advice and decided to share the results here - if the subject holds no interest for you, your detention is unnecessary and should you find a subject of interest here in amongst our Blogs, we welcome you to select accordingly as you feel comfortable.

I was asked for some advice on purchasing a ‘smart’ TV in the UK followed by the comment, “Well actually, if I am honest, I don’t actually know what a ‘smart’ TV is!”

I answered as if I was speaking to the person asking the question: – you might find this interesting, you might not? If it serves as an insight, I have done my job.

Smart TVs
Basically speaking, a ‘smart’ TV is a big computer monitor, PLUS a TV.

If you can imagine sitting at your computer, being connected to the Internet and seeing it all on your 32” monitor screen, you have a ‘smart’ TV.

With anything online comes the problem of, security and monitoring.
If there is nothing on the telly, you can connect to BBC/ITV Iplayer, Youtube anything that streams video, or radio or pornography or anything nasty as well as the good things.

Control is by various options, mostly a complex R/C (Remote Control), sometimes, a Mouse and Keyboard.
It is NOT a computer!
It IS, access to the Internet without the Firewall though doubtless, someone is working on that too.

Unfortunately, everything that you may see as negative with the Internet, is present here. Your Browsing and Surfing History is being monitored constantly by the various Browser giants. Your shopping habits are being monitored constantly too.

You can access your email (webmail) at the touch of a Browser Tab. If it can be hacked, you are open to attack. There are advantages too. You can Skype at full size though mostly, you will have to purchase an external webcam and possibly, a microphone.

The ALTERNATIVE is what you (the enquirer), have in part already and I (Terry Shoobridge), have more fully: Chromecast, MyGiga (Roku) and Apple TV.

These are interfaces (little black boxes or dongles) that access the Internet and come complete with their own PSU (Power Supply Units), and various options. MyGiga has four USB outlets/inputs and can be controlled by a keyboard, mouse or the supplied R/C. Additionally, you can add an external hard-drive for extra (downloaded) media storage though the box has a quad-core processor and on-board hard-drive storage of its own. This is an Android box.

Chromecast 2: Similar but not the same approach as MyGiga etc..
A small dongle with Micro USB 5V (from the mains) power supply (Chromecast 1 had a separate and larger PSU) which uses a smart phone or tablet as a R/C.

Downloading the Google Chrome Browser to your smart phone, Ipad or tablet, enables you (or anyone else with Guest permission), to control the TV content that again, is available on the Internet though much content is by subscription and because your location is known (UK), USA content is rarely allowed.

In B.C., Canada, UK TV content is not allowed so if that was the aim, forget it though, there are ways around it (with some difficulty).

All these external devices require an HDMI input and ‘Source’ input selection on the TV R/C.
Relying on a home router radio connection hinders the first video streaming download but once in motion (buffering delays the process initially), you’re good to go.
To improve the streaming and Internet connection, the ideal placement of your home router (MoDem) would be close to the TV itself. Hard-wire connection by Ethernet would improve your experience and your smart phone has to be connected to your home network in order to R/C the material or program you are watching.

Not everything is available on these devices. If you mirror your experience between Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, you will have an idea of where you stand and, on that note – Apple TV.

The latest offering from Apple is Apple TV with a Siri smart R/C. Available with 32GB and 64GB hard-drive options (for downloading movies and storage), the costs of these alternative smart TV devices vary between the UK and North America as you can imagine.

Apple TV is approximately $225 CDN at 32Gb or around $300 for the 64GB version. With an exchange rate currently (March 2016) of $1.85/£, this is likely to set you back around £150. Similarly a MyGiga box was $200 over a year ago but is likely to be a bit cheaper now. Google’s Chromecast is without a doubt the cheapest option at around $50 but relies on your smart phone or tablet for controlling content.

There are other ways, which are extremely easy to project content from a smart phone or tablet connected to the Internet onto your own TV.

With faster download speeds ever-increasing on your home network despite the sheer number of devices connected to and accessing information simultaneously, projecting the ‘screen’ from your mobile device onto your home network and connecting that content via HDMI is relatively easy so, the question is this, do you need or want a ‘smart’ TV?

Do you want your habits online known to the world and do you want the whole range that is available? Connecting THREE devices (Chromecast, MyGiga and Apple TV) will give you an extremely ‘SMART TV’ with input sources (HDMI) a nightmare – most TVs only have two HDMI inputs currently.
The other thing to consider is HD, High Definition.
Streaming HD content over the Internet is not yet as efficient as receiving HD content by Cable or Satellite though it is improving. I wouldn’t doubt that a dedicated Smart TV would be subject to far less signal loss and interference than your Home Network but what do you want from the TV? Yesterday we were happy with SD now we demand HD. If you go to a friend’s house, do we consider the quality of the content we are watching? Possibly, yes.

So, a smart TV with a webcam and microphone could be a cheaper option than an Ipad image projected onto a regular TV through your Home Network; Chromecast as a fully equipped add-on (with Google Chrome Browser initiated) is without a doubt the cheapest option as you can still use your phone’s or tablet’s on-board microphone and webcam efficiently – it’s all a matter of choice after all, a Smart TV will be easier on your cable chaos at the rear of your TV and, probably one less R/C to deal with, scramble over or lose on the floor or sofa!

Note: from a software point-of-view, as the name of the operating system suggests, where Android, IOS or Windows for Mobile Devices are concerned, Apps. are downloaded as with our other mobile devices, from the Apple (App.) Store or the Google Play Store. Hard drive capacities may influence the amount of Apps. that can be downloaded and used though the limit seems, almost endless.

ps I knew it would happen:                       Yet Another R/C!

5-Port HDMI Switch (Switcher Selector), 5 In 1 Out, Support 3D, Remote Control, Auto Switching, 1080p + Power Adapter

List Price:
CDN$ 29.99
CDN$ 18.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25.
You Save:
CDN$ 11.04 (37%)
  • Able to connect 5 HD sources to just 1 HDMI port on your HDTV/monitor
  • Support FullHD 1920x1080p and 12-bit deep colour, retaining the crispy clear images
  • Auto-switching and/or switching with a remote control
  • Avoid frequent plugging or unplugging of HDMI cables which also wears out your precious HDMI connector
  • Support LPCM, DTS/DTS-HD, Dolby Digital/Dolby TrueHD

To completely bore you further, content not allowed by location can be circumvented.
Businesses that want to securely share files and information between clients and colleagues or consumers that simply don’t want their browsing history recorded or for those who want to watch content from, for example the US or the UK in Canada where this is not allowed, can subscribe to a VPN – Virtual Private Network.

A small subscription will enable your IP Address to be hidden or, located by choice to appear to be in the country you wish thereby enabling the content to be downloaded. Logs and records are not kept and added encryption ensures security at higher levels.

The downside is that connecting to the ‘foreign’ server initiates a slight delay on your system but lots of video content is now being provided in a ‘buffered’ state, which will reduce the initial streaming download time tremendously.

Ever onwards, upwards (and downwards)!


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