Smart TVs and streaming plug-ins have revolutionized how we watch TV. By now, most of us are familiar with the basics of how these gadgets work, and have enjoyed binging our favorite shows through them.
However, there's actually a whole host of awesome features on Smart TVs that most people don't know about. If you don't want to miss out, keep reading to find out about the hacks, tricks, and easter eggs you probably didn't know your TV had.
1. Gaming: Turn Your Chromecast Into a Console
Google Chromecast's streaming capabilities don't begin and end with streaming video content. Though it won't let you play the latest triple-A games, you can still play a number of fun mobile games on your TV using your Chromecast.
Just download your choice of game onto your mobile device, and sync to the big screen, turning your phone into a controller. Who needs the latest consoles anyway?
2. Live Streams: Stay Up to Date With the Latest Developments
By now you've probably figured out that you can use your Smart TV to watch all your favorite shows and films through different streaming services, but did you know you could watch live feeds too?
You can keep up with the latest news thanks to live streams on YouTube, and even watch live Facebook videos right on your TV.
3. Full Control: Say Goodbye to Your Remote
Back in the olden days of watching TV, losing the remote control was a full-fledged tragedy. Even though Smart TVs come equipped with a remote, you don't actually need it.
There are a number of Smart TVs that allow you to use your phone or tablet as a remote, meaning that you're always in total control of what's on the screen.
4. Keep it Down: Switch Audio From the TV to Your Device
If you're watching some late-night TV and don't want to wake your family or roommates with the noise, you can just play the audio from your phone while streaming video through the TV.
LocalCast is an app that works with a number of Smart TVs and plug-ins. It's available for iOS and Android devices, and lets you route the audio to your phone with the click of a button. So everyone can sleep easy while you catch up on your favorite shows.
5. Better Filters: Get the Most Out of Netflix
Have a pretty detailed idea of what you want to watch, but don't know how to trim down all the options? Smart TV owners can avail of the Upflix app on iOS and Android.
Upflix gives you the option to filter through your viewing options by selecting specific actors and directors, instead of just genres.
6. Clear the Screen: Hide Apps from Your Apple TV Screen
Is your Apple TV home looking a little cluttered? You can hide apps by going into settings, and selecting only the ones you want to see on the main screen.
You can also rearrange your apps, just select any app icon and hold the center button until all the icons begin to shake. Then just hold and drag to move the icon wherever you want.
7. Don't Plug and Play: Always Check Your Settings
Believe it or not, despite the fact that your Smart TV is HD ready, it might not be configured to stream HD the second you take it out of the box. Always take a minute to go into your display settings, and make sure the display is configured for the right TV size.
It's a small action that could make a world of difference when it comes to enjoying video content on your new TV.
8. Create a Library: Upload Digital Blu-rays to the Cloud
If you have a large collection of Blu-rays that include digital versions of the film, you can upload these to your iCloud and watch them on your Apple TV.
Follow the instructions given with the disk for uploading the film onto your iTunes account, but cancel the transfer before it finishes. The films will show up as "purchased" on your Apple TV movie app, and you'll be able to enjoy your new, extensive film library.
9. Control with a Controller: Using Your XBox One and PS4 Controllers with Your Smart TV
There are some Smart TVs that support the use of XBox and PS4 Controllers. Though this isn't a universal feature, it is found in a lot of Android TVs. Check your TV's specs to see if it supports console controllers.
Just go to your settings and select "Add Accessory". The TV will scan for supported Bluetooth accessories, allowing you to select your controllers for use.
10. Find a Stream: Using Google Home to Find the Right Streaming Service
Can't find your favorite show on your go-to streaming service? Don't worry, Google Chromecast can help you out. Just type the name of the show you're looking for into the Google Home app, and it will show you which streaming apps host the show you're looking for.
Then all you have to do is choose from the selection of streaming services and get ready to enjoy some quality programming.
11. Upload DVDs: Watch Your Old Library on Your New System
Don't throw out those old DVDs just yet. Download the Vudu app and create a digital library of your old favorites on your Smart TV.
Once you've opened a Vudu account, you can use their disc to digital service by scanning the DVD's UPC code. It costs between $2-5, depending on definition, but is an easy and fast way to watch your DVDs again without the need for a DVD player.
12. Business Time: Stream Presentations from Your Phone
It doesn't all have to be fun and games when it comes to your Smart TV. Smart TVs can serve a function in offices too, allowing you to wirelessly stream presentations from your phone or tablet onto a bigger screen.
Just sync your smart device with the TV, and show off your PowerPoint skills at your next meeting.
13. Closing Quickly: The Fast Way to Put Your Apple TV to Sleep
If you need to shut down in a hurry, you can put your Apple TV to sleep immediately by holding down the play button in the main menu.
If you want to get to the main menu quickly, you can also press and hold the menu button. This actually gets you to the main menu faster than just clicking the button once.
14. Screensaver of Your Life: Turn Your TV Into An Ever-Updating Slideshow
You probably already knew that you could create a slideshow screensaver for your Smart TV to show your favorite snaps when not in use. But did you know that you can have your screensaver show all your latest Instagram and Flickr pictures?
Just connect your Instagram and Flickr accounts, and sync Flickr to your screensaver settings. Your TV will then show an up-to-date slideshow of all your adventures.
15. Sharing is Caring: The Easy Way to Let Guests Stream
If you're using a Google Chromecast, you can let guests choose what to watch or listen to without sharing your WiFi password with them. Just set your Chromecast to Guest Mode, and it will allow anyone in the vicinity to open and display Cast-enabled apps.
So if you're wary of giving full access to your network, you don't have to.
16. Loud and Clear: Use Voice Control Instead of a Remote
If you don't have the gamepad, don't sweat it. You can also get a separate voice remote for your Amazon Fire. Other Smart TVs and devices have similar voice control features, so it's worth doing your research and finding out if voice control is supported by your entertainment system.
17. More Apps: Use Sideloading to Unlock Previously Unavailable Apps
Both Amazon Fire and Google Chromecast allow users to sideload apps, meaning they can be installed manually through the smart plug-in. The biggest benefit to this is that often you can access apps that are not available on your mobile devices.
Many region-blocked apps are available through sideloading, so it's worth checking out what new options are available to download through your Smart system.
18. Smooth Sounds Only: Keep Noise to a Minimum With Your Apple TV
There's nothing worse than having your quiet videos interrupted by annoying, noisy ads. Luckily, Apple TV lets you keep harsh sounds to a minimum with its "Reduce Loud Sounds" option.
When playing a video, just swipe down to reveal the audio options. Usually, your Apple TV will be set to the default "Full Dynamic Range" option. Switching to "Reduce Loud Sounds" can smooth out any major changes in volume, making sure nothing disturbs your relaxing TV time.
19. All About the Options: Ditch Google Play and Amazon for More App Options
If you have an Android TV system or an Amazon Fire TV stick, you might think you're limited to only downloading apps from Google Play and Amazon. Luckily that's not the case.
To access a broader range of apps, you can install Aptoide TV. Aptoide hosts a lot of apps that are blocked by bigger, mainstream providers, so it's worth checking out their selection.
20. Switch Accounts: Add Other IDs to Your Apple TV
If you're living with a family or lots of roommates, there's an easier way to share the Apple TV. Just go to settings, click accounts, and then click "iTunes and App Store".
From here you can switch accounts, so that other people's purchases and downloads aren't associated with your account.
21. Work from the Sofa: Use Microsoft Office on Your Smart TV
Did you know you could create, edit, and share Microsoft documents from your Smart TV? There are a number of Microsoft Office apps that are free to download in the Google Play store, that will allow you to work from the comfort of your sofa.
Just search and download from your phone, and get your work done on your TV.