When televisions first graced American living rooms, it came in a wooden box with an antenna and the sole purpose of providing an outlet of news and entertainment for families everywhere. Life was simple back in the day.

Nowadays, a TV is yet another device that helps you join everyone else in your social circle in a hyperconnected world. Many TVs can record a show while you watch another, alert you when you have a new email, or tell you what the weather’s like without having to sit through a slew of Al Roker’s horribly written jokes.

In essence, today’s television is nothing but a larger-screen computer meant to be viewed at a distance by multiple people. The difference between what is a computer and what is a television is no longer there.

The army of “Smart TVs” are slowly but surely invading home entertainment centers.

The smart TV gives you access to entertainment like no other: you are no longer chained to a broadcast channel’s unforgiving programming, nor are you held back by its bland commercials. Scheduling around your favorite shows so that you won’t miss them is now archaic. Not even grandma does that.

Bored by what’s on TV? Don’t sit there and flip channels. Smart TVs come loaded with apps that give you access to internet streaming websites such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. It’s not the stingy, on-demand content your cable provider offers you either - most, if not all, of the videos that ever made it onto the Internet can be accessed and viewed on your 55”, 60” or 65” smart TV. Now you can watch that one time Timmy wiped out in Cancún and lost his swim trunks in front of an entire Mexican beach village in high-def.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for the days when MTV actually played music instead of shoddy reality TV shows aimed at glamorizing teen pregnancy, your smart TV can help you out as well. Wanna listen to that Great Gatsby soundtrack everyone on NPR has been raving about? It’s on your Spotify app. What about that one song in your personal library that you ripped off a CD you bought when you were in college many moons ago? That’s on your TV too. Music, photos and videos stored on other devices around your house can easily be accessed on your smart TV.

Gone are the days of the television being a one-way medium - there exists a whole line of tubes that allow video conferencing via Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook. A whole room can participate in a video call instead of just whoever’s siting in front of the computer screen. And with the smart TV’s mandatory place in a home’s most family-centric room, it is poised to become the family’s most important communication device.

Staying connected via the big box in your living room doesn’t stop there - most smart TVs, like Samsung’s 2013 lineup, lets you share family photos and calendars via the Smart Hub. It even automatically accesses your favorite social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, to keep you updated on what’s happening in your social circles.

Since the social networking task is traditionally associated with anything that has a keyboard, many smart remotes have miniature QWERTYs on the flip side of classic TV buttons that change the channel and volume.

Don’t want to be bothered with turning a smart TV on/off when you enter a room? Wanna feel like you live in 2062? Let your home’s Control4 or Savant system take care of it by automatically turning on your smart entertainment system when a room senses your presence. Smart TVs can be easily integrated into a home’s control system––and can be set to turn on/off with all other electronics in a room when someone steps into it. You can even program it to turn on at designated times during the day, like in the morning in order to wake you up, à la Tony Stark in Iron Man.

For almost 30 years, the TV was only made interactive with the help of a video game console, but the next venture of Smart TVs is to completely phase out the gaming console. Samsung has manufactured a line of smart TVs that come with their own apps, and Sony has paired up with Google in order to access thousands of games on the Google Play market.

The smart TV revolution is just starting - keep on the lookout for even smarter TVs in the future.

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