Weekend Digest: Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall?

Interested in a smart TV or smart display? They share more qualities than you may think. Both offer incredible experiences and act as control stations for your smart home. Read on to hear our take on why one of these great devices belongs on your wall.

Weekend Digest: Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall?
Weekend Digest: Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall?

You’ve probably heard various tech publications and marketing campaigns talk about smart TVs and smart displays. While on the surface they may sound like fancy tech jargon, their smarts go much deeper than that.

These exciting devices are quite advanced and equally useful. Granted, when they first hit the scene, it’s true that they lacked functionality and weren’t as impressive as they are now. For smart TVs especially, many of the included features were limited—and the built-in software was torturously slow. It isn’t hard to understand why they were overlooked.

What about now? Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall? In short, the answer is absolutely. There’s a reason why people anticipate the latest models and flock to stores to snag them. Even stores that are limited in electronics, like Bed Bath and Beyond, carry smart displays. Yep, they’re definitely popular for a reason. Now let’s explore why.

Weekend Digest: Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall?
Amazon’s latest line of 4K smart TVs

Smart TVs and displays only improve with time

Like I was saying, smart TVs weren’t exactly the best when they first arrived in stores. They were still a step ahead of regular TVs and displays, sure, but they had a long way to go to truly change the way we interact with them—and a long way they’ve come, indeed.

As expected with any new or emerging technology, it takes a little while to work out the kinks and iron all the wrinkles. On the hardware side of things, smart displays were incorporating gadgetry fairly new to consumer markets. For example, voice activation and control were just getting started. Companies leading in this kind of tech, like Google and Apple, had plenty of their own work to do. Plenty of other issues were present too. The software was frequently limited and atrociously slow to use. After all, what good are extra things you can do when you lose the motivation to use them?

Fortunately, technology has improved drastically. Smart displays are more intelligent and faster than ever. They include more robust feature sets, are easier to use, and are far more aesthetically pleasing, too. If your opinion on this technology is based on your experience from five years ago, it’s time to come back and try again.

Some are becoming entertainment consoles

You probably remember when TVs were just TVs. You had a handful of basic channels or perhaps a cable/satellite package consisting of a wider variety of televised programming. Eventually, though, a growing internet changed things. Streaming content is now mainstream, and there’s a myriad of ways to access it.

While external devices like Chromecast and Roku act as a conduit for any display with an HDMI port, many smart displays offer similar if not the same capabilities all baked into their operating systems. Not only can you get the classic cable experience, but you can also choose from all your favorite modern providers, too. Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, and HBO—they’re all there for you to enjoy without having to connect a phone or another device.

In some cases, you can even stream playable gaming services through smart displays, like Google Stadia. With specs and software improving across smart displays, they’re quickly becoming entertainment consoles in their own right. Pretty amazing if you ask us.

Consumer Buddy explores some of the best 4K smart TVs

Smart TVs and smart displays are similar, yet different

Smart TVs and displays are very similar things in many ways, but they’re clearly different in others. Both have their own advantages and are especially effective when combined. While smart TVs are ultimately geared toward entertainment first, smart displays focus on assistive features.

Smart displays like Amazon’s Echo Show are smaller than TVs with smaller screens. They can be easily placed on a countertop. Some can even be mounted to a wall. They’re like a touchscreen control panel for your smart home that always runs in the background, waiting for your next voice command. You can make calls, follow recipes, or run your robot vacuum—all from your smart display.

While smart TVs and displays have their differences, they share many great features. This leads us to our next topic: the way in which they offer control.

They’re now hubs that can run your smart home

If you dabble in smart home gadgetry, you should absolutely consider updating to a smart TV or adding a smart display. Many of these offer the fantastic ability to work within your network of smart devices. Not only that, but they can basically become central hubs to run the whole show.

It’s impressive seeing Google Home changing your lighting scheme and turning on the TV with a single command routine. It’s even more impressive when you can do it through your display while monitoring other items in your house. Sitting down to watch a movie has never been easier when you can set ambient lighting, adjust the temperature, and lock the door, all from the comfort of your couch.

The more companies continue to create smart devices, the more likely it is that they incorporate virtual assistant functionality. With these virtual assistants available not only through our phones but also through smart displays and smart TVs, it’s inevitable that we’ll keep seeing their abilities expand. It makes sense that these digital hubs will gain more relevance as time goes on.

Weekend Digest: Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall?
The Echo Show 15 mounts walls in portrait or landscape

They can monitor your cameras and security system

What better use of a smart display than as a command center for your home security system? Many of the popular consumer alarm kits these days have dedicated apps that can tie into a plethora of smart home devices.

You can pull live security camera footage up on the big screen to check out what’s going on around your property. This means that, when you sit down to watch a movie and the doorbell rings, you can access your handy doorbell cam to see who it is before getting up.

Of course, with the right connected devices, you could also unlock that door. Smart locks and other modern security mechanisms can be controlled via apps and voice actions, integrating with virtual assistants like Alexa and Google.

As a matter of fact, Amazon just announced a new Ring drone cam that can literally detect suspicious sounds and fly through your house to check them out. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we’re normal people enjoying technology or if we’ve become the Bond villains of our own homes. We have a blast with it either way.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious features that enhance the user experience. One of these is the ability to use smart displays as a personal photo or art gallery. Whether you’re looking to actively present a photo slideshow from your recent vacation or passively have an ever-changing gallery of artwork, smart displays make it easy to do so.

Many displays now offer gorgeous screens and thin bezels with resolutions that make every image pop. Others stylistically offer classy aesthetics to simulate the appearance of a framed piece of art. It’s a cool way to use your display and change up the mood in your home environment.

CNET compares the Echo Show with the Nest Hub Max

Listen to your music while working or relaxing

Smart displays make great listening devices while you relax or do tasks around the house. Many connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi so you can stream your favorite jams or podcasts directly from a mobile device. You can also use connected services like Pandora to play music without needing to select it from your phone or tablet first. A simple voice command is usually all it takes.

Some devices are also able to be linked throughout the home. This is a nice feature for those who want to play the same audio simultaneously across multiple units. It’s a feature more common with smart displays rather than smart TVs, however. In fact, linking up other smart speakers can allow a smart display to broadcast a message across each one at the same time, so you can communicate with your family with ease.

They’re great options for voice and video calling

One reason to install a smart TV or smart display is that they’re really fantastic options for both voice and video calls. They typically have built-in cameras and are able to place or receive calls via Wi-Fi. Once again, you can even interact through a simple voice action. It’s a great way to connect with friends and family.

We all know what it’s like to get a call when our hands are full. Being able to answer without having to stop what you’re doing is extremely convenient. Voice chat is an especially nice touch for those who enjoy face-to-face conversations. It’s a fun way for kids to connect with grandparents, too, all while eating breakfast before school.

Smart TVs offer reminders, timers, games, and more

Another area where smart displays have an edge over smart TVs is their focus on being functional and helpful. There are lots of tasks they’re capable of doing because of their use of virtual assistants. Unless a smart TV has one baked into its operating system, it may miss out on some of these nifty abilities.

One of these features is the ability to set reminders. When you set a reminder, a smart display can notify you at the right time and let you mark it completed once the task is finished. Smart displays can even help you in the kitchen, walking you through recipes or setting timers. You can even use them to hear jokes and play games via voice prompts.

The interactivity with smart displays is plentiful and only continues to grow over time. You’ll be surprised at how many little things you discover the more you use them.

Weekend Digest: Is it time to install a smart display or smart TV on your wall?
Google’s Nest Hub makes a nice digital picture frame

Is it time to install a smart TV or a smart display on your wall?

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should install a smart display or smart TV on your wall, the answer is a resounding yes! You don’t need to have a complete smart home setup to enjoy the many benefits of these phenomenal devices.

No matter your age or your familiarity with electronics, you’ll find that smart displays and smart TVs keep things simple enough for everyone. While some tie in with apps that allow you to enjoy even more advanced features, they aren’t necessary for appreciating the core experience.

Which should you choose? If you’re looking for a television that does it all, we recommend a smart TV. If you’re less concerned with watching shows and movies and are more interested in virtual assistants, we recommend a smart display.

While it may seem like a frivolous suggestion, the best choice overall comes from combining both of these things. Smart TVs and smart displays can work together to provide an amazing experience. Best of all, these devices are now more affordable than ever. If you don’t have to choose and can buy one of each, it’s definitely time to install a smart TV or smart display on your wall.

Whether it’s watching shows, monitoring your security system, adjusting the lights, or taking a video call, there are endless ways you can get the most out of your smart setups, and displays are essential to it. Not only that, you’ll feel like a member of the Jetson family when you launch your vacuum into action with your new smart display. That’s what we tech lovers have all dreamed of, isn’t it?

Do you own a smart TV or a smart display? Let us know which is your favorite and why. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Mark is a writer and podcaster who loves technology. When not writing for Gadget Flow, he enjoys passionately working on storytelling projects and exploring the outdoors.
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