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Video Conferencing & Smart TV: the Ultimate Telecommuting Experience

October 7, 2021
Alina Krukova

Alina Krukova

Categories: Reviews

Smart Television in Simple Terms

The ‘Smart TV’ concept implies an internet-connected television set that runs on an operating system and comes with its own app service. This state-of-the-art device differs from traditional counterparts in enhanced interactive capabilities, providing easy access to on-demand online content, video games, social media, music and media playback. Moreover, you can host widescreen video meetings and communicate with your friends or family, collaborate on a common project, live stream video games, and more.

 

In short:  TV + Internet + apps = Smart TV

 

Customarily, a smart television connects wirelessly to your home network as Wi-Fi receiver is already built into its configuration. Using the supplied remote, you can call up the on-screen menu to view internet channels and content offerings available. They’re usually displayed in the form of apps, which are preinstalled or downloadable to the smart TV library.

Today, video conferencing has become one of the most in-demand smart television features as virtual communication firmly entered our lifestyle during the pandemic outbreak. The futuristic large-screen video calling we’ve seen in movies like The Fifth Element has become commonplace. In this regard, more and more people face the issue of setting up TV video chatting. In this article, we describe in detail the ways to communicate remotely via smart television technology.

Smart TV Video Conferencing: Where to Begin?

The easiest way to communicate virtually via smart TV is to get a solution with integrated web camera as there’s no need to connect any cables or purchase add-on devices. Thus, few people want to replace their fully functional television set just for holding widescreen meetings — they’ll keep on using computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Alternatively, you may find a compatible webcam and cast video conferencing app onto your smart TV. But what to do if the television set doesn’t have a webcam built-in, plus it is incompatible with third-party AV devices and cannot be upgraded by installing video calling software… There’s a way out! Learn more about these solutions below.

Number of smart TV users in the United States from 2017 to 2022

All-in-One Solutions for Smart TV Video Calling

Today’s lineup of plasma TVs can be attached with a set-top box designed to increase their usability and turn regular devices into powerful multimedia centers. Such one-box tools allow users to perform all kinds of actions: you can surf the Internet, use social media, watch videos on YouTube, enjoy on-demand content platforms, and even call anyone from the comfort of your living room. Here’s the overview of the most preferred TV boxes.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV

Smart TV Video Calling NVIDIA SHIELD TV

This wireless Android-powered solution delivers amazing content streaming experience and allows users to run video games, enjoy favourite songs and movies in top-notch picture and sound quality. It features a motion-activated remote and intuitive UI, with built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant at your command. And the ingenious futuristic shape of this TV box will definitely not leave hi-tech lovers indifferent.

Thanks to compatibility with Google Home, Echo, and Alexa, it’s possible to voice control your Nvidia Shield, which provides a convenient and speedy way to open apps, play TV shows or series, navigate content, and control playback. It’s really a great alternative to scrolling through everything with a remote. Plus, this device can be used as the central hub of your smart home system.
If you’d like to host virtual meetings with Nvidia Shield TV, just proceed to the “Apps” icon on its home screen or long press the “Home” button on the remote control, then click the “Get more apps” shortcut to access Google Play Store and install video conferencing apps compatible, e.g. TrueConf.

Facebook Portal TV

Smart TV Video Calling Facebook Portal TV

With this handy Facebook-powered solution, you can run video conferences right from a large-screen TV, but it’s not as good at media streaming as the aforementioned counterpart. The set-top box allows users to enjoy movies and shows, listen to favourite playlists, and display photos right from Instagram and Facebook. It’s preinstalled with Alexa voice assistant, so it can be used to wirelessly manage the smart home ecosystem, check the latest news, surf the Internet, and more.

Portal TV is equipped with a wide-angle camera and four pairs of microphones, but the quality of transmitted audio and video highly depends on Wi-Fi stability. There’s also no HDMI cable in the kit, without which it cannot be started.
When the device is configured, you need to log in with a personal Facebook or WhatsApp account. After successful authorization, you’re welcome to initiate video calls to friends, relatives or colleagues from the list of Messenger and WhatsApp contacts, as well as create a Messenger Room and host group meetings with up to 50 participants at a time.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Smart TV Video Calling Amazon Fire TV Cube
This compact cube-shaped device is mainly known as a hands-free streaming box. It provides seamless access to all major streaming services and enables immersive movie-watching and music-listening experience. Unfortunately, the Cube doesn’t support Google Play content, and YouTube is available only through the pre-installed web browsers.

This TV box includes its own remote for controls that connects to the device via Bluetooth, so you don’t need to keep it in sight except to directly control a television set. Its mic array is powerful enough to pick up voice commands to Alexa in a spacious room. When interacting with the voice assistant and processing commands, the indicator bar on the Cube’s top edge comes to life and lights up, which is quite eye-catching. But it doesn’t come with an HDMI cable, which feels like a pretty big misstep.
If you plan to communicate virtually using the Cube, you’ll be faced with the lack of a built-in camera. Therefore, to initiate video calls, you need to additionally buy a webcam and connect it to the device via a USB port. Plus, you’re limited to calling people with Alexa-equipped devices.

Google Chromecast with Google TV

Smart TV Video Calling Google Chromecast with Google TV

This capable Google-powered set-top box delivers convenient and fully-featured content streaming experience with enhanced picture and sound quality. It provides access to popular streaming services, Google Play Store, and all the Android TV apps and games users can find there.

Chromecast features a user-friendly Android TV-based interface and attractive egg-shaped design. It comes with a nicely tactile remote that you can use as the mic for Google Assistant voice requests, and HDMI cable that plugs into the back of your television set. Thus, this device doesn’t have a webcam integrated, so you need to buy one and a USB hub to initiate video calls.

Screencasting and Mirroring to your Smart TV

Most smart television sets can interact with other video-enabled devices in ways that are bringing users widescreen content sharing experience. There are several such technologies that work differently depending on what you’re going to show on a TV screen and how. It’s about screencasting and mirroring, let’s go through these features.

With screen mirroring, you can project what is on your laptop, smartphone or tablet and broadcast this information to a TV display without the need to connect any cable. Unlike mirroring on glass, the image is not flipped horizontally, which is great for viewing local content such as photos, videos, documents, and slideshow. All actions performed on your mobile device are projected on the TV, whether it is making edits to a text, switching between apps or pressing the pause button while watching video. A free and easy-to-use mirroring app is LetsView. This tool offers different viewing options and is compatible with any miracast-ready TVs.

Screencasting is similar to the above option, except that it is used to broadcast online content to a TV screen using a pre-installed app on your device. The difference is that you’re not sharing the screen of your smartphone or PC, but rather using them to initiate the cast via wireless network. While casting TV shows or movies, playing music or video games, only the media is streamed, allowing you to continue using your phone or computer without interrupting the stream.

TV Video Calling via Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Webex

There aren’t that many video meeting options available in the app stores of smart TVs, in particular, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, and Webex have no TV compatible apps. And this is not surprising, considering that webcams aren’t no longer their standard feature. TrueConf and Google Duo are one of the few apps that work on Android TV and provide the ability to communicate virtually in large-screen mode.
If you want to hold hassle-free TV meetings, your best choice is to cast or mirror a laptop, tablet or smartphone with the pre-installed client app of your chosen video conferencing platform. And if you’re the owner of one of the set-top boxes described in this review, just install a compatible camera and meeting app, and сhat with family or friends via a widescreen display.

Video Conferencing via Smart TV with TrueConf

Video Conferencing via Smart TV - TrueConf

As mentioned above, TrueConf is one of the few video conferencing vendors that offer an Android TV app. This platform offers great opportunities for widescreen meetings and delivers enhanced telecommuting experience with 4K video and sound quality. It features quite an intuitive UI and useful collaboration toolset, which includes screen sharing, instant messaging, quick social login, up to 9 participants on screen, and more.
To start video calling from your TV with Android-powered box on the board, just install TrueConf for Android TV. With some simple app setup, your multimedia system is ready for widescreen video conferencing. Paired with the right webcam, it’s capable of tracking you around the room as you move, just as you would in a real conference hall.

Drawing Сonclusions

As you can see, сontinuous technical advancements in television electronics have ultimately turned traditional TVs into powerful multimedia centers. Even if your television set isn’t a smart device, you can enhance its usability with different tools available, both software and hardware.
Based on the technical capabilities of your TV, set-top box availability, and the variety of compatible AV devices, you can hold video conferences right from the comfort of your sofa or office meeting rooms. In times of the coronavirus pandemic, this option has become more useful than ever, as large-screen communication creates favourable environments for remote teamwork and a totally immersive experience of staying in touch with family and friends.


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