Whenever you buy a smart TV, the selection of the OS is crucial.
Though you have a range of operating systems, the most common systems found in India are Android TV OS, LG WebOS, and Tizen OS. Each of these OS has its advantages and disadvantages. Let us discuss the salient features of these OS and compare them to know which best option is for your home.
Android TV OS
People are most comfortable using Android OS because they are accustomed to using their Android smartphones. The user experience is similar in many ways.
Android TV is Google’s Android mobile OS version specially configured for TVs. However, Android TV OS has its distinctive features. The user interface is a screen full of apps or widgets, with the device media apps displayed as ribbons. It includes horizontally scrolling recommendations along with the recently viewed content from the specific app,
For example, the Amazon Prime Video app shows the recommended content at the top and the recently viewed and in-progress content at the bottom of the screen. Thus, you can select any in-progress content and resume watching it conveniently from where you left off.
However, there are some drawbacks in the Android TV OS that Google TV tries to address. For example, you cannot browse updated content while simultaneously watching TV. The Android TV OS requires you to exit from the app completely before browsing the latest content.
Google TV rectifies this flaw by allowing you to watch TV and surf other content simultaneously on the same screen.
One of the primary advantages of Android TV OS is access to hundreds of TV content apps on the Google Play Store. Besides, it offers the facility to sideload apps, thereby allowing you to install apps that are not available on Google PlayStore.
For example, if you wish to watch Hulu outside the US, you can download the Hulu APK and sideload the Hulu app on your Android TV and watch it anywhere.
Compared to WebOS and Tizen OS, Android TV OS offers a more extended range of apps to download. In addition, Android TV allows you to stream content, watch live TV, and play games like all TV OS.
All smart TV OS offers the services of Voice Assistant. For example, Android TV has Google Assistant to help you navigate your way through the content using your voice. Thus, it eliminates having to use the remote control to browse through apps. Besides. Google Assistant can help you plan your day, get answers, and control other home devices connected to Google Home.
Android TV OS offers an inbuilt Chromecast that allows you to cast photos, videos, music, and other content from your connected smartphone/tablet device to your TV and enjoy it on the large screen.
Compared to other OS like Tizen OS and WebOS, Android offers an extensive range of gaming content on PlayStore. In addition, some TVs come with features that allow you to control your gaming activity using your Bluetooth controllers. The range of games available on Android includes Asphalt, Bad Lands, and many more. Besides, you can sideload games like Mario and play them using an emulator like Retroarch.
Android TV OS is available on various television brands like Sony, Hisense, Sharp, Philips, and OnePlus. It is also possible to add Android TV to a non-smart TV having an HDMI port through an Android TV set-top box from ISPs like Reliance Jio, Airtel, and ACT Fibernet.
It is also possible to connect soundbars to your Android TV using the various connectivity ports and enjoy an excellent acoustic experience.
Setting up Android TV OS is easy. All you do is follow the instructions on the TV screen to complete the setup quickly. However, the Android TV OS does not offer an impressive settings page.
You have to go inside each setting option to check out what it offers. Google TV has improved by showing the settings and the unique inclusive contents on the same screen side-by-side.
Android TV OS Pros
- Intuitive and easy user interface
- Extensive range of apps available on Google PlayStore
- Suitable for gaming activities
- Inbuilt Chromecast feature
- Widely popular with firmware updates available regularly
Android TV OS Cons
- The settings screen is a bit clogged for usage.
- Inability to watch TV and browse for content simultaneously
- It does not have an inbuilt browser.
Related: Types of TV Screens
WebOS – LG’s Proprietary Technology
LG has introduced a specially designed operating system exclusively for use in their TV models. WebOS enables easy integration and expansion with an intuitive user experience factor. While providing value-added solutions, LG’s WebOS, a Linux-based OS, revolutionizes the way you watch TV.
Compared to the Android TV OS user interface, the WebOS UI is better streamlined with the apps lined up at the bottom portion of the screen.
Managing content on the WebOS UI is easy as the embedded CMS allows users to edit and play content comfortably. You can schedule a playlist and group or control signages using the remote control without requiring specific software.
WebOS allows PIP (Picture-In-Picture) and PBP (Picture-by-Picture) formats to enable users to allocate space for each content source. Furthermore, unlike Android TV OS, WebOS allows you to browse updated content while watching the existing TV programs. Thus, you can seamlessly shift to watching your preferred content directly on the screen without having to exit the menu.
Similarly, you can return to the previous content anytime and continue watching it from where you left off. This feature proves handy when watching web series and other pre-recorded programs as you can stop the content anytime and watch breaking news content and then switch over again to continue watching your web series.
Other features include real-time video streaming, seamless content playback, and synchronized video wall playback.
Though LG WebOS has a better UI than Android TV OS, people can find it challenging to adjust to it. It can be a learning curve for people who have not used the OS before. LG is revamping its WebOS and introducing Version 6.0 of the software on its 2021 range of smart TVs.
This version envisages removing the bottom launch bar completely. Instead, it will have a full home screen with a dashboard, large banners, content recommendations, and app lists.
WebOS has a significant demerit in this segment because it does not allow you to access as much app content as Google PlayStore. However, popular apps like Disney Hotstar, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and others are available on WebOS. Therefore, the accessible app content depends on the availability on the LG Content Store.
Besides, this OS does not allow side loading, whereby you cannot load apps not available on WebOS on your LG TV.
Similar to other TV OS, LG WebOS offers the services of several voice assistants. They include Google Assistant, ThinQ AI, and even Amazon Alexa. Using these voice assistant features, it becomes convenient to browse through different content apps. Besides, you can switch your TV on or off using these apps.
In addition, you can control and manage other connected devices on the LG TV screen using the LG Magic Remote. If your TV does not include the Magic Remote, you can always purchase it separately.
LG WebOS offers content sharing features from your smartphone to the TV using screen mirroring or the Screen Share app on the TV. Hence, playing content from your smartphone on your LG TV using WebOS is not an issue.
The LG Content Store does not offer access to an extensive range of games as Android TV OS does. The WebOS TVs come with pre-installed games, but you can download the games available on LG Content Store.
As WebOS does not support sideloading, you cannot access games that are available elsewhere. Android TV OS allows you to do so and use emulators to play a range of games.
WebOS is a Linux-based OS available on LG Smart TVs alone. This restriction makes this OS comparatively less popular than Android TV OS. However, LG is expanding its services to include other TVs too. The compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay, and Google Assistant exemplifies how LG WebOS is adapting to the competition.
LG WebOS targets TV manufacturers that do not have their smart TV platforms or have barely adopted Android TV. LG lists out customers like RCA, Hyundai TV, Konka, Sunny, Ayonz, and Realtek amongst its initial customers.
You can use the Magic Remote to set up your WebOS on your TV. Of course, you have to follow the instructions on the screen and complete the setup seamlessly. Controlling the TV and other connected home devices is easy using this Magic Remote. It is also possible to assign shortcuts to different apps on the Magic Remote’s numbered buttons.
It is possible to operate WebOS TVs using smartphones without the Magic Remote. However, you need to install the LG TV Plus app on your smartphone device. The latest edition of LG’s Magic Remote 2021 comes with NFC capabilities. So, you can conveniently tap your smartphone against it to share content on the TV screen.
- Clean user interface
- Voice Assistant features are available
- Regular firmware updates are available
- Screen mirroring features
- Limited availability on LG TVs alone
- App content is restricted, but it offers an extensive range of popular apps.
- Not the ideal OS for gaming
Related: HD vs Full HD vs 4K vs 8K
Tizen OS – Samsung’s Proprietary Technology
Samsung’s Smart TV OS platform is one of the most comprehensive operating systems available today. Tizen OS, a Linux-based platform, is similar to LG’s WebOS in its functioning and appearance.
The user interface is simple and clean. While the basic layout design remains the same, the latest models have switched to a darker-colored theme. The main menu that runs at the bottom of the screen and the row of contextual menus above it occupy up to 40% of the overall screen.
Tizen OS is similar to WebOS as you can watch your TV content and browse through your app selection simultaneously without having to exit from the particular app.
In addition, Tizen OS is configurable as you can create a ‘Favorites’ row for your popular apps. Similarly, you can have a section for the recently watched apps to enable you to navigate and continue watching the content whenever necessary swiftly.
Though it has an in-built guide feature, it does not offer recommendations as Google does. However, it suggests additional content, but the Android TV OS is far superior in this category.
Compared to Android TV OS, Samsung’s Tizen OS does not offer a wide variety of app content. However, the Tizen TV app store comes equipped with popular content apps, like Disney Hotstar+, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and others that people usually access.
Downloading and installing apps from Tizen App Store is convenient as it offers a One-Click installation procedure similar to that available on Android TV. However, there is a significant disadvantage. As Tizen is a Linux-based OS, installing Android apps on the Tizen TV is not possible. Similarly, you cannot sideload apps as you can do on Android TVs.
Similar to Android, Tizen OS has an automatic updating facility enabled by default. Generally, the updates are performed overnight. However, you can install updates manually through a USB drive.
Tizen OS is compatible with a range of virtual assistants, like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Bixby. So maybe, Samsung’s new assistant SAM might also make its way into Samsung TVs in the future.
Tizen OS allows a screen mirroring facility to enable you to share content from compatible devices wirelessly. The Samsung SmartThings app on your smartphone TV allows you to use the screen sharing facility. However, the TV and the smartphone should be on the same network.
If you wish to use your Samsung TV for gaming, the Tizen OS is not right. Though it features around sixty games, there are lightweight and smartphone-type games. Unfortunately, there is no way to add more games to the TV. In contrast, Android TV OS offers a massive catalog of online games to play directly or using emulators.
Samsung’s Tizen OS is available on Samsung TVs and other devices like smartwatches, speakers, etc. Tizen already supports AI voice assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Bixby. It is also compatible with casting solutions like Miracast and AirPlay 2. All equipment connected to the Samsung Ecosystem can connect and work with Tizen OS.
Setting up Samsung’s Tizen is not an issue as it configures automatically. Besides, it can detect other compatible devices like your Amazon FireTV Stick and other hardware. It configures all such devices automatically, but Tizen also offers a Connection Guide to help you set up your gaming consoles, soundbars, and other external storage devices.
Samsung’s Tizen offers an in-built web browser that Android devices lack.
Tizen OS Pros
- Easy and intuitive UI similar to WebOS
- Supports a range of voice assistants
- Connects to other home devices in the Samsung Ecosystem
- Screen mirroring features like Miracast available
- It comes with an inbuilt browser.
Tizen OS Cons
- The restricted utility with Samsung devices is a significant drawback.
- It does not offer extensive app access and sideloading of apps.
- It is not the best OS for gaming.
Related: HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision
Which is the best OS amongst the three?
The critical issue on everyone’s mind is ‘Which is the best OS amongst Android TV OS, WebOS, and Tizen OS.’
This comparison table should set the things in the right perspective
|Parameters||Android TV OS||WebOS||Tizen OS|
|User Interface||The user interface occupies the entire screen||The main menu is at the bottom of the screen and the contextual menus above it||The Tizen OS user interface is similar to the WebOS interface.|
|App Content||It offers the largest collection of apps because of Google PlayStore access.||The app content is limited to the apps available on LG Content Store.||The app content is limited and less than what Android TV OS offers.|
|Voice Assistant||It supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.||Besides, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, it supports ThinQ AI.||Tizen OS supports Bixby besides Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.|
|Content Casting||Android TV OS offers inbuilt Chromecast.||WebOS offers screen mirroring facilities.||Tizen OS offers screen mirroring through Miracast.|
|Gaming||It is the best for gaming as you can sideload games from other play stores and play them using emulators.||The gaming content is limited to those offered on the LG Content Store.||The Tizen OS is not the ideal OS for gaming as it does not support sideloading and restricts the availability to those available on the Tizen App Store.|
|Availability||Amazon TV OS is available on a range of TVs like Sony, Hisense, Mi, and many more||WebOS is primarily an LG proprietary OS and not available on other reputed TV brands.||Tizen OS is only available on Samsung TVs and other compatible products.|
|Setup||The setup is easy.||Easy to set up.||Easy setup|
If we look at which is the best option out of the three OS, you can choose Android TV OS because of its versatility and higher app content accessing the feature.
However, it is an individual choice because every person would have specific preferences. If you look for ease of operations, WebOS and Tizen OS are better. At the same time, Android TV OS offers a better user experience and is good for gaming. The Android TV OS is also available on multiple devices and not restricted to a specific ecosystem.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you operate Smart TV using a smartphone?
Yes, you can operate and control all Smart TV operating systems using the respective smartphone apps. Besides, you have easy-to-use remote control options. The CEC option on the TVs helps you to control other connected devices using the same remote control.
Can you load apps that are not available on the specific Play Stores?
With WebOS and Tizen OS, you cannot load apps on your TV that are not available on their respective Play Stores. However, with the Android TV OS, you can sideload apps from other sources by downloading the specific APK apps.
Can you pause any content and resume watching it later after a couple of days on Smart TV?
Yes, all the three OS offer the facility of listing out the in-progress and recently watched content on the screen. You can access any such content and resume watching it from where you left off.
Which is the best Smart TV OS for playing games?
The Android TV OS is the best for playing games because it allows you to download an extensive range of games (even if they are not available on Google PlayStore) and play them using emulators. On the other hand, WebOS and Tizen OS offer a restricted range of games on their TVs.
Can you share content from your other smart devices on TVs working on these OS?
Yes, Android TVs come with an inbuilt Chromecast feature to enable content casting from smartphones to TVs. In addition, WebOS and Tizen OS allow screen mirroring to be set up on the TV using the respective Screen Share app.
Can you use Alexa to control the TVs working on these OS?
Yes, Android TV OS, WebOS, and Tizen OS are compatible with Alexa. Hence, you can control these TVs using Amazon Alexa speakers.
Can LG and Samsung TVs work on Android TV OS?
LG and Samsung smart TVs work on WebOS and Tizen OS, respectively. However, non-smart TVs can work as smart TVs by connecting set-top boxes and other hardware like Amazon FireTV Stick. These systems work on systems similar to Android TV OS.
Srinivasa is Vsbytes’s Editor-In-Chief. He Is A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert And Has Been Interested In Computer Hardware, Software, And Gaming Right Since The Time He Was A Child.