Smart TV should not be confused with Internet TV, IPTV or Web television. Internet TV refers to receiving television content over the Internet instead of traditional systems (terrestrial, cable and satellite) (although Internet itself is received by these methods). IPTV is one of the Internet television technology standards for use by television broadcasters. Web television is a term used for programs created by a wide variety of companies and individuals for broadcast on Internet TV.
In smart TVs, the operating system is preloaded or is available through the set-top box. The software applications or "apps" can be preloaded into the device, or updated or installed on demand via an app store or marketplace, in a similar manner to how the apps are integrated in modern smartphones.
The technology that enables smart TVs is also incorporated in external devices such as set-top boxes and some Blu-ray players, game consoles, digital media players, hotel television systems, smartphones, and other network-connected interactive devices that utilize television-type display outputs. These devices allow viewers to find and play videos, movies, TV shows, photos and other content from the Web, cable or satellite TV channel, or from a local storage device.
In the early 1980s, "intelligent" television receivers were introduced in Japan. The addition of an LSI chip with memory and a character generator to a television receiver enabled Japanese viewers to receive a mix of programming and information transmitted over spare lines of the broadcast television signal. A patent was published in 1994 (and extended the following year) for an "intelligent" television system, linked with data processing systems, by means of a digital or analog network. Apart from being linked to data networks, one key point is its ability to automatically download necessary software routines, according to a user's demand, and process their needs. The mass acceptance of digital television in late 2000s and early 2010s greatly improved smart TVs. Major TV manufacturers have announced production of smart TVs only, for their middle-end to high-end TVs in 2015. Smart TVs are expected to become the dominant form of television by the late 2010s. At the beginning of 2016, Nielsen reported that 29 percent of those with incomes over $75,000 a year had a smart TV.
A smart TV device is either a television set with integrated Internet capabilities or a set-top box for television that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary basic television set. Smart TVs may be thought of as an information appliance or the computer system from a handheld computer integrated within a television set unit, as such a smart TV often allows the user to install and run more advanced applications or plugins/addons based on a specific platform. Smart TVs run a complete operating system or mobile operating system software providing a platform for application developers.