Will A Smart TV Work Without An Internet Connection?

by Danny
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READING TIME: 9 MINUTES

One of the most common smart home items people have in 2021 is a smart TV. Smart TV’s are great. They allow you to steam Netflix, watch Hulu, or access your cable without connecting a cable box.

With so many different makes and models on the market today, you might have some questions about they work. For example, will A smart TV work without an internet connection in 2021?

The answer might seem obvious. Of course not! How could a smart TV work without being able to access the internet?!

However, I had to put myself in the shoes of a consumer for a minute to answer this question. (Sometimes I forget that less tech-savvy people read my blog posts.) For example, they question they really might be asking is if their Smart TV will work at all without internet, such as when watching DVD’s, playing PS4, etc.

To answer that question, yes – a Smart TV will work perfectly fine without an internet connection.


How Do Smart TV’s Connect to the internet?

Smart TV’s connect to the internet in two ways: either hardwired via ethernet connection or using wifi.

It’s important to note that ALL smart TV’s will work without an internet connection. Some have built-in wifi and ethernet ports, while others only have one or the other.

If you have an ethernet cable nearby, I recommend hardwiring via ethernet connection for the best and fastest connection. If you only have wifi, you could also use a powerline adapter kit, which basically runs ethernet through power outlets in your house.


Features That NEED Internet Access

In order to fully utilize your smart TV capabilities, we recommend connecting to the internet if possible. This will let you do the following:

Download Smart TV Apps

Smart TV’s offer tons of downloadable apps. For example, you can download Spotify, Apple Music, local news and weather apps, custom backgrounds and much more.

If you never connect your smart tv to the internet, you will be limited to the default apps that come preinstalled.

Stream Media Services

One of the most common use cases of smart TV’s is streaming TV shows. This allows you to download and stream your favorite shows from Netflix, Hulu, Spofity, Apple Music, Disney+, and much more.

Download Updates

Occasionally the apps you use will have new updates and features available. To keep your TV up to date and recieve these new updates, you will need internet access.


Features that DON’T need Internet

Playing Video Games

Playing single player video games don’t require internet access. Just plug your gaming device into an HDMI port and play away!

Streaming from USB Device

Most smart TV’s have built in USB ports. Just drop a bunch of pictures, music, or videos onto the USB and watch them directly on your smart tv. No network connectivity needed!

Watching Cable TV

Since a smart TV is still just a regular TV, you can connect your cable box to it to watch any of the shows available with your cable subscription.

Connecting HDMI Devices

Have a laptop? You can connect it to your tv and play anything on your laptop directly on your tv. Whether that’s your Steam video game library, Netflix, picture slideshow, or other home media.

Plex Media

Did you know you can stream Plex media offline WITHOUT internet access?

That’s right! Any movies or TV shows on your computer can be streamed directly to your smart TV without an internet connection. As long as both your TV and computer are connected to your home network via ethernet cable, you can still launch the Plex smart TV app and browse all of your media.

If your internet provider ever has issues, this is a GREAT feature.


Should you invest and purchase a Smart TV even though you don’t have internet access?

Now that you know what you can and can’t do with a smart TV; should you get one even through you don’t have internet access at home?

I say yes. Most tv’s come built-in with smart tv capabiltiies. Whether or not you use them right away is up to you. Considering that TV’s are so inexpensive these days and people tend to keep TV’s for many years, you might as well purchase a smart TV if you are the market for one.

You can get a relatively cheap (but awesome quality) 4k TV for less than $300! Just a few years ago, you’d easily spend two or 3x that amount to have “Smart TV’ functionality. Now they just come standard and it’s hard to find dumb tv’s.

What smart TV is best for you?

In 2021, I recommend basing your decision on 3 factors:

  • Amount you have to spend
  • Size of TV
  • Resolution needed
  • Availability of features/ports

Instead of show you all the pro’s and con’s of each TV manufacturer, I’m just going to recommend the smart TV I personally own. (Actually, I have 2 of these!)

TCL, hands down, is the best priced smart TV in 2020. If you’re not familiar with TCL, don’t worry – they are a relatively new-to-the-US TV manufacturer. But they have been dominating the European markets for years and are rapidly expanding into US markets.

I own a 65″ TCL Roku Smart TV for my living room and a 50″ TCL Roku Smart TV for the bedroom.

The quality is as good or better than brands like Samsung, offers stunning 4k resolution and has built-in Roku TV for streaming all your favorite media.

Below are our Top 2 Smart TV’s:

TCL 50S425 50 Inch 4K Smart LED Roku TV (2019)
  • Direct lit LED produces great picture quality | Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant | Dual-band Wi-Fi & Ethernet port
  • TV Dimensions | Without Stand – 44.1" W x 25.7" H x 3.2" D | With Stand – 44.1" W x 28" H x 8" D | Stand Separation distance – 39.6” | Refresh rate – 120 Hz CMI | Wall mount – 200 millimeter x 200 millimeter VESA | Panel resolution – 3840 x 2160
  • Pairs 4K ultra HD picture clarity with the contrast, color, and detail of high dynamic Range (HDR) for the most lifelike picture
Sale
TCL 65-inch 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR QLED Roku Smart TV - 65S535, 2021 Model
  • Superior 4K Ultra HD: Picture clarity combined with the contrast, color, and detail of Dolby Vision HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the most lifelike picture.
  • QLED: Quantum dot technology delivers better brightness and wider color volume.
  • Product Size (WxHxD) with Stand: 56.9" x 11.6" x 34.9"; Product Size (WxHxD) without stand: 56.9" x 3.0" x 32.5"; Product Weight without stand: 41.4 pounds; Product Weight with stand: 41.9 pounds

Best SmartThings Compatible TV in 2021

If you’re already invested in a SmartThings ecosystem to control your lights, lamps, and have other automations setup, maybe you’d be interested in a SmartThings compatible TV? If so, this is one we recommend:

SAMSUNG QN65Q60RAFXZA Flat 65" QLED 4K Q60 Series (2019) Ultra HD Smart TV with HDR and Alexa Compatibility
  • SMART TV WITH UNIVERSAL GUIDE: Simple on-screen Guide is an easy way to find streaming content and live TV shows
  • 100% COLOR VOLUME WITH QUANTUM DOTS: Powered by Quantum dots, Samsung’s 4K QLED TV offers over a billion shades of brilliant color and 100% color volume for exceptional depth of detail that will draw you in to the picture for the best 4K TV experience
  • QUANTUM PROCESSOR 4K: Intelligently powered processor instantly upscales content to 4K for sharp detail and refined color

How to Troubleshoot Smart TV issues?

Let’s say you finally decided to upgrade your tv and now have connection issues. Where do you start troubleshooting?

The steps below may help fix some common issues.

Hardwired Troubleshooting Steps

  • Check your ethernet jack. A lot of houses may have false or not working ethernet jacks. If you aren’t sure if your ethernet wall jack is active, simply plug a laptop into it. If you browse the internet and get to Google, it’s working.
  • Restart your router or TV. Sometimes your smart TV won’t pick up an IP address right away. A quick network reboot or restarting your TV usually fixes this.
  • Unplug & replug your ethernet cable. This will establish a new connection to your router.
  • Reset network in TV settings. All smart TV’s will have a Settings > Network section. In there you will see a “reset network adapter” option.

Wifi Troubleshooting Steps

Here’s some troubleshooting tips when connecting via wifi.

Weak Internet Connection

If your smart TV isn’t near your router, you may experience lagging especially when streaming videos. Move your router closer or consider upgrading your router at home.

You could also consider purchasing a mesh wifi system such as the Deco M5. Instead of having only 1 router that your TV has to connect to, you’d setup several “access points” around your house. Your smart TV will then connect to the closest access point resulting in a much better connection.

As a bonus, you can connect to access points with an Ethernet cable instead of wifi.

Check for Firmware Updates

As long as you have some internet connection, even if it’s a little slow, you can check the network settings of your TV to see if there are any new firmware updates available.

Restart your Modem or Router

If none of the above fix the issue, you can try resetting your router. This will flush out any bad connections and hopefully establish a more solid connection.

Smart TV Recap

All in all, if you are in the market for a new TV in 2020, you should look into purchasing a smart TV. Setup is usually very straightforward and just as simple to connect to the internet as a laptop, cellphone or tablet.

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1 comment

Raymond Vaughn September 15, 2021 - 7:25 pm

I have a TCL -Roku TV (50s435) and internet BUT BUT I have not found a way to SETUP this TV WITHOUT internet access. When first unboxed it will require you to setup a TCL account before you can scan for over the air channels. The setup manual says it is usable without internet BUT you cannot get there from here.

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