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Android TV, Regular TV & Smart TV: What’s the difference?

The rise of the internet and mobile apps have led to technological advancements in consumer electronics. Android TVs and Smart TVs are now all the rage, as television sets have become more intelligent and complex. Here, we compare the differences between Android TVs, Smart TVs and regular TVs.

Android TVs

Android TVs are a type of Smart TV that offer similar, if not better, viewing capabilities to standard Smart TVs. So what’s the difference between the two?

Android TVs utilise Google’s Android operating system (Android OS) as opposed to those used by Smart TVs, which vary depending on the manufacturing brand.

For those who already own and use Android phones, navigating the Android OS will be a breeze as it essentially operates the same way on an Android TV as it would on an Android phone. This might make Android TVs a preferred option to users who are already familiar with the Android OS.

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1.    More apps

The Android OS is open source, which means that it has access to a greater variety of apps from a huge range of developers and publishers, giving you more options for your entertainment.

2.    Cheaper

In addition, being an open-source operating system means that  Android TVs are also significantly cheaper than most Smart TVs.

3.    More frequent firmware updates

Given the popularity of the Android OS and its widespread use worldwide, it receives firmware updates more frequently and these updates can be completed quite easily. Having regular updates allows your Android TV to be current and optimised for better viewing experiences.

4.    Works with Chromecast

Android TVs also support Chromecast. With a simple click of a button, you’ll be able to wirelessly cast your favourite shows or general streaming content from your phone, PC or tablet with ease.


1.    Not as common as Smart TVs and regular TVs

At present, there are only a small handful of manufacturers that produce Android TVs. Though they are essentially cheaper, there are fewer options to choose from and may not be as readily available in the market. Currently Android TV brands include Sony, Sharp, Samsung, Phillips and NVIDIA.

2.    User interface may be complicated for non-Android users

Where those who own an Android phone may find using the Android TV easy, those unfamiliar with Androi’s OS might struggle to use the user interface initially. However, this can be overcome with regular use and practice.

Smart TVs

A Smart TV is able to do everything that a regular TV can, with the addition of coming pre-installed with several services, as well as being able to connect to the internet. The ability to connect to the internet allows you to download and install popular apps, such as YouTube, Netflix, and even Facebook, directly onto your TV.


1.    More options to buy

Smart TVs are now a staple at most electronic goods stores, with most television brands carrying a range of Smart TVs. With so many different types of Smart TVs from different brands in the market, finding one that suits your needs is a lot easier.

2.    Easy set up

Most Smart TVs have everything you need already installed, which means that your Smart TV is good to go, straight out of the box. All you’ll really need to do is connect it to your home WIFI connection and you’re all set.

3.    No need to learn a new operating system

Unlike Android TVs, which utilises the Android OS, Smart TVs aren’t as complex to use and work as soon as you plug it in and turn it on. This is perfect if ease of use and convenience is important to you.


1.    Limitation of apps

Though they work similar to Android TVs, Smart TVs do not operate using Android OS and instead use a number of different operating systems and dedicated app stores, depending on which brand they’ve been manufactured by. Many of these operating systems are not open source and therefore are limited to a small number of apps. This may result in only a small selection of streaming apps being available for your entertainment needs.

2.    Operating system and apps may become obsolete

As Smart TVs use their own operating systems, these may not receive updates as frequently and may not be able to download newer apps. Over time, the lack of updates may result in some apps, or even the operating system itself, to become obsolete. This makes Smart TVs less of a long term investment.

3.    More expensive

Despite being more readily available, the fact that most Smart TVs don’t use open source operating systems means that they are typically a lot more expensive.

Regular TVs

With the growing popularity of television sets that are able to connect to the Internet, the number of standard TVs being purchased are surely on the decline. However, many households still use regular TVs for their entertainment needs. This is primarily due to regular TVs being the cheapest option out of the three types of televisions in the market currently, and the simplicity of use. There’s no need to connect to the internet nor learn how to use an operating system.

Though regular TVs may not be able to directly connect to the internet and have apps installed, you are still able to watch your favourite Netflix shows or YouTube content. All you’ll need is a casting device, like Chromecast or Apple TV,  to cast videos from your phone, PC or tablet onto your TV screen.

The Verdict

In comparing the three types of televisions available, in my opinion, Android TVs come out on top, due to having a variety of apps and content available, as well as having regular firmware updates to keep the TV current for a longer period of time. Smart TVs, while more available in the market, can be significantly more expensive and may need replacing, if and when, the operating system becomes obsolete. Regular TVs, on the other hand, while inexpensive and used widely in New Zealand, are on the decline and require additional products to be able to watch online content.

One more thing, make sure that your broadband provider and service is up to scratch, so you can enjoy uninterrupted viewing when using a TV that requires an internet connection. Canstar Blue rounds up customer satisfaction ratings of broadband providers, to help you make a choice. Our comparisons are free to use, just hit the button below. Happy browsing!

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