Do you need an aerial for a smart tv?

Do you need an aerial for a smart tv?

This page was last updated on 1 September 2021

Do You Need An Aerial For A Smart TV In 2021?

If you have a smart tv, do you need to install an aerial as well? This is a question people often ask when purchasing a TV.

Aerial is the British name for what Americans call “antenna.” The term antenna has been used since around 1935 and was coined by researchers working with radio waves. It refers to any device which receives or transmits electromagnetic radiation of radio frequency (RF) and converts it into electrical signals. 

Aerials are used in domestic television sets, radios and mobile phones.

Many people have a smart TV without an aerial, not realizing that it is necessary for streaming. 

This can be a bit of a hassle if you wish to stream online content from your television because you will either need to purchase a separate aerial or stream through another device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

The only way to watch HD content on your smart TV without an aerial is via satellite or cable television which generally have high monthly fees and may even require further equipment fees. In order to enjoy all the internet has to offer you will need an external aerial installed in addition to your smart tv’s internal one.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

You can listen to an audio recording of this page below.

 

Can you purchase a smart TV without an aerial built in?

Yes, you can purchase a smart TV without an aerial built in. The catch is that aerials are not required to watch normal TV. However, to fully enjoy the internet and other added features you will need one.

Without an aerial installed, your display will only receive standard definition (SD) signals which could be considered lower quality than HD content. If this does not bother you then there is no need for an aerial but if good quality viewing is desired, it cannot be achieved without one.

Can I Stream on My Smart TV?

Yes, you can stream on your smart TV without an aerial. However, if you wish to receive full HD content and all the internet has to offer you will need one installed in addition to your TVs internal one.

Aerials are not required when only watching normal TV but when streaming online it would be necessary in order to enjoy all of what is on offer. Otherwise you will only receive standard definition (SD) signals which would be of lower quality than HD content.

If this does not bother you then no aerial is needed but if viewing in high quality is desired it cannot be achieved without one.

You can purchase a smart TV that doesn’t have an aerial built in, though aerials are not needed for standard TV viewing. These can be external aerials or an indoor aerial, sometimes known as an indoor antenna.

However, to fully enjoy the internet and other features you will need one installed. If this does not bother you then no aerial is needed but if good quality viewing is desired it cannot be achieved without one.

Streaming vs. Terrestrial TV

When it comes to streaming versus terrestrial TV, there are some major pros and cons. Here’s a list of what you need to know when deciding which way to go:

Streaming Pros

  • No equipment necessary (TV, antenna)
  • Much more variety in programming
  • Ability to watch on multiple devices simultaneously
  • Unlimited, commercial free viewing
  • Ability to watch on mobile devices outside the home

Streaming Cons

  • You need a fast internet connection. If you have DSL, it’s most likely too slow for streaming HD content & multiple devices
  • Device compatibility
  • Some services are platform specific (ex. Netflix only works with select devices)
  • Streaming can let expensive if you want multiple services; ie Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Terrestrial Pros:

  • Faster connection speeds (broadband & DSL are generally faster than streaming services like Netflix or Hulu)
  • More affordable (no equipment to buy/maintain, free broadcast channels only require an antenna installation)
  • Unlimited, commercial free viewing
  • More stable connection & faster download speeds

Terrestrial Cons

  • Less variety in programming (you will have to subscribe to multiple services for content)
  • Not as portable/viewable on mobile devices outside the home. Not all channels are available online
  • You will need an external aerial to access terrestrial TV signals
  • Not all channels are available online and not as many. You will have to subscribe to multiple services for content. Not as portable/viewable on mobile devices outside the home and you will need an external aerial to access terrestrial TV signals.

What Can You Watch on a Smart TV Without an Aerial?

You can purchase a smart TV that doesn’t have an aerial built in, though aerials are not needed for standard TV viewing.

However, to fully enjoy the internet and other features you will need one installed. If this does not bother you then no aerial is needed but if good quality viewing is desired it cannot be achieved without one.

Internet TV Apps

Internet TV apps are available on most smart TVs. For example, you will be able to access on-demand content on your Samsung SMART TV via the Smart Hub.

You can also stream on your television through a variety of devices including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast or Roku. You can purchase any of these devices for less than £100 and all come with free trials.

"Aerials are not required when only watching normal TV but when streaming online it would be necessary in order to enjoy all of what is on offer. Otherwise you will only receive standard definition (SD) signals which would be of lower quality than HD content."

Internet TV Apps

  • Provide on-demand content via Smart Hub
  • Stream programing through a variety of devices including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast or Roku. You can purchase any of these devices for less than £100 and all come with free trials.
  • Faster connection speeds (broadband & DSL are generally faster than streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC Iplayer or Hulu)
  • More affordable (no equipment to buy/maintain, free broadcast channels only require an antenna installation)
  • Unlimited, commercial free viewing
  • More stable connection & faster download speeds
  • Less variety in programming (you will have to subscribe to multiple services for content)
  • Not as portable/viewable on mobile devices outside the home. Not all channels are available online
  • You will need an external aerial to access terrestrial TV signals
  • Not all channels are available online and not as many. You will have to subscribe to multiple services for content. Not as portable/viewable on mobile devices outside the home and you will need an external aerial to access terrestrial TV signals.
do i need an aerial for a smart tv

Do I Need an Aerial to Watch Freeview?

You can watch the freeview app by connecting your television to a digital box via an aerial.

Most smart TVs come with this capability built in, if not you will need to purchase a digital box.

What types of TV aerial are there?

There are three different types of TV aerial in the UK:-

  • Terrestrial aerials
  • Cable aerials
  • Satellite aerials

The most common types are terrestrial and cable. Satellite aerials are best suited for rural areas as they can pick up weaker signals. However, it’s still possible to use one in a town or city, the only difference is that you might need an external aerial to improve signal quality and strength.

Terrestrial aerials

  • Provide free broadcast channels
  • Comes with built in tuners (most smart TVs have this functionality)
  • Less expensive upfront cost than satellite
  • More affordable (no equipment to buy/maintain, free broadcast channels only require a TV antenna installation)
  • Unlimited, commercial free viewing
  • Less variety in programming (you will have to subscribe to multiple services for content)
  • Not as portable/viewable on mobile devices outside the home. Not all channels are available online
  • You will need an external aerial to access terrestrial TV signals
  • Terrestrial frequencies are more prone to interference. You might get poor picture quality, pixellation or need to keep moving the aerial around for a clear signal.

Satellite aerials

  • Offers premium channels/on demand content
  • Can be costly upfront cost when purchasing equipment
  • More stable connection & faster download speeds
  • Programming is more limited in comparison to cable. The majority of content are pay per view channels rather than free broadcast channels so you will have to pay every month for these services.
  • Not as affordable (you will need a satellite dish, decoder, roof mount bracket and LNB.)
  • Limited range/viewing outside of the home
  • More stable connection & faster download speeds
  • Less variety in programming (you will have to subscribe to multiple services for content)
  • Satellite signals can be easily disrupted by rain. You will need an external aerial and/or outdoor satellite dish to access these channels properly, especially if you are struggling with your signal strength. It’s not so much of a problem in rural areas but in towns/cities you will be more susceptible to these disruptions.

Cable aerials

  • Provide free broadcast channels
  • Programming is more limited in comparison to satellite & terrestrial
  • More expensive upfront cost than terrestrial
  • Less variety in programming (you will have to subscribe to multiple services for content)
  • Not as portable/viewable on mobile devices outside the home. Not all channels are available online
  • You will need an external aerial to access terrestrial TV signals
  • Cable signals can be easily disrupted by rain. You will need an external aerial and/or outdoor antenna and LNB to access these channels properly. It’s not so much of a problem in rural areas but in towns/cities you will be more susceptible to these disruptions.
tv without an aerial

Why purchase a Smart TV over a regular television?

  • A Smart TV is much like having a computer in your living room. It allows you to connect to the internet and access subscription based, on demand services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Youtube etc.
  • You can also use them for social media apps like Facebook or Twitter
  • Smart TVs are available in all shapes and sizes, you can purchase a television with or without Smart functionality
  • You only need to purchase one set top box (television) for multiple services like terrestrial/cable/satellite. You don’t have to worry about buying separate equipment and installation costs are lower
  • Smaller, lighter format make them easy to move around and install. You can even wall mount some models
  • Quickly and easily switch between content with the smart remote control. Most Smart TVs come with a voice activated remote which allows you to search by using your voice (ex. “search for Big Bang Theory”) or program your TV to respond to specific commands like raising or lowering volume when prompted (ex. “volume up by 5”)
  • The future of television is in Smart TVs. Manufacturers are constantly developing new ways to immerse you in the television viewing experience by using motion technology and 3D models. The biggest brands like LG, Samsung & Sony all have their own Smart TV range so it really comes down to preference when choosing one!
  • You can access online content on your TV when you are away from home. You can watch iPlayer, Netflix or Youtube without having to log into another device
  • The Smart function is only available when the TV is connected to wifi
  • It’s not necessary to purchase a landline with most broadband deals in order to use the Smart function on a TV
  • Not all terrestrial channels are available online so you will still need a satellite dish for full range of content.
  • You will have to pay to install a satellite dish, decoder and LNB which can be expensive depending on your location.
  • The majority of smart TVs don’t come with a smart remote, you will need to purchase this separately. It’s an added expense
  • You can’t wall mount a satellite dish and they are less portable despite using the same signal as terrestrial TV
  • Satellite signals can be easily disrupted by rainfall or worsened weather conditions which makes them unstable in built up areas. You will need an external aerial and/or outdoor antenna and LNB to access these channels properly.
  • Television with a smart function is almost entirely down to preference, however it’s always good for the environment to purchase energy efficient products like this!.
  • You can use a smart TV stick, like a Firestick to access streaming apps, or even services like IPTV.

What is Freesat?

Freesat is a digital satellite service which provides access to terrestrial television channels without the need for a dish or an external aerial.

This means that you can purchase new, smaller TV sets which do not come with built in satellite capability and still enjoy free access to your favourite content.

  • They offer over 200 of the most popular TV channels and radio stations
  • Installation is free and you can enjoy all of the services available without any recurring charges
  • Freesat is a UK based company so their target audience is UK residents. You will not be able to access Freesat if you do not subscribe to an eligible satellite package which means that it’s not suitable for everyone
  • You must own an eligible satellite package to access Freesat. It cannot be used as a standalone service if you don’t have an existing setup

What is Freesat+?

As well as being free, Freesat+ also offers additional features over the base Freesat service including HD, 3D and on demand functionality. You can get Freesat+ by purchasing a satellite package from Sky or TalkTalk among others

-They currently offer over 210 channels, including many in HD and 3D

-You must own an eligible satellite package to access Freesat+

Remember that you will still need a TV licence to access services like the BBC I player and any BBC TV channel.

tv without aerial

What is Sky TV?

Sky TV has been in operation since 1989, and it now serves over 10 million customers across the UK. It is a subsidiary of Comcast-owned Sky, which is Europe’s largest media company.

Sky air a range of channels, including entertainment channels such as Sky One, movie channels such as Sky Movies and sports-broadcasting channels such as Sky Sports.

The company also operates “Sky Go”, which allows customers to watch their subscription channels on the go.

The range of channels includes entertainment, movies and sports-broadcasting channels. Sky Go is an app that enables subscribers to watch their favorite shows anywhere they are because you can download it onto your phone or tablet so you don’t have to be at home to watch the shows you want to.

What type of aerial do I need for a smart TV

Modern smart TVs use a broadband aerial signal to connect to the internet and streaming services. With the rise of on-demand video services, and people wanting to use a streaming app, such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube, internet connections are becoming increasingly important for TV sets.

If you live in an area with poor terrestrial television reception (or none at all), it is possible to use an internet connected set-top box to receive live TV instead of, or in addition to, a traditional aerial signal.

Aerial signals are broadcast via the following frequencies: VHF – channels 2-13 UHF – channels 21 – 69

The limits for terrestrial digital TV are defined by the DVB standard. This means that theoretically any DVB device, whether it is a set-top box or TV should be compatible.

Although you might believe otherwise, the smart TV itself has no influence on the type of aerial signal (terrestrial/ satellite) needed to run it. It requires an internet connection for many applications and services but it doesn’t use that same internet connection to receive the TV signal.

Do smart TVs need Internet

Most of the latest generation of TVs are ‘smart TVs’ and some people incorrectly assume that they rely on internet connectivity for all of their smart features. This is not the case, however some applications may require an active internet connection to work properly. With many TV’s being sold today, there may be additional apps available for your phone or tablet that can be used as a remote control.

Generally you will need to connect your TV to the internet in order to sign up for services such as Netflix or view content from other devices on your local network via DLNA, but it does not have to remain connected all of the time if you do not want it to.

Modern smart TVs use a broadband aerial signal to connect to the internet and streaming services. With the rise of on-demand video services such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube, internet connections are becoming increasingly important for TV sets.

Article author

Katy Davies

I am a keen reader and writer and have been helping to write and produce the legal content for the site since the launch.   I studied for a law degree at Manchester University and I use that theoretical experience, as well as my practical experience as a solicitor, to help produce legal content which I hope you find helpful.

Outside of work, I love the snow and am a keen snowboarder.  Most winters you will see me trying to get away for long weekends to the slopes in Switzerland or France.

Email – katy@helpandadvice.co.uk

LinkedIn – Connect with me

Frequently Asked Questions

Do smart TVs need Internet?

Most of the latest generation of TVs are ‘smart TVs’ and some people incorrectly assume that they rely on internet connectivity for all of their smart features. This is not the case, however some applications may require an active internet connection to work properly. With many TV’s being sold today, there may be additional apps available for your phone or tablet that can be used as a remote control.

What types of TV aerial are there?

There are three different types of TV aerial in the UK:-

  • Terrestrial aerials

  • Cable aerials

  • Satellite aerials

Why purchase a Smart TV over a regular television?

  • A Smart TV is much like having a computer in your living room. It allows you to connect to the internet and access subscription based, on demand services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Youtube etc.

  • You can also use them for social media apps like Facebook or Twitter

  • Smart TVs are available in all shapes and sizes, you can purchase a television with or without Smart functionality

Can you purchase a smart TV without an aerial built in?

Yes, you can purchase a smart TV without an aerial built in. The catch is that aerials are not required to watch normal TV. However, to fully enjoy the internet and other added features you will need one.

 

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