Do Smart TVs Really Need a Cable Box? The Expert Guide

Smart TVs are equipped with all the advanced features including internet and streaming services. However, your smart TVs may need a cable box under certain conditions.

The channels on the cable boxes can be different from that offered by the TV. So, if you want to watch the same channels, you may need a cable box.

The need for a cable box depends on various factors. We cannot decide at once whether we need a cable box with our smart TV or not. It is a matter of some discussion.

Do Smart TVs Really Need a Cable Box

In this guide, I will explain everything in detail. I will also tell you the benefits of having a cable box.

What is a Smart TV?

A smart TV is not only smart by appearance but also by functioning. It is a revolutionary version of older and bigger TVs. It combines different technologies together.

It has the features of a computer, a media player, and a television. In fact, it incorporates interactive Web 2.0 and the internet.

You can stream music, videos, and movies, browse the internet, access streaming services, and install apps.

What is Special About a Smart TV?

A smart TV features the internet to watch a lot of online content just like a smartphone. You can also connect other media devices to your TV.

For example, a cable box, satellite box, gaming console, Ethernet, or streaming devices can be connected to a smart TV.

Moreover, it comes with some pre-installed apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Disney, and more. You can also download your favorite media apps to your TV.

How does a Smart TV Work?

A smart TV works with an internet connection. If you have a stronger home Wifi, connect it with your TV. This will allow you to watch any content, movies, shows, and dramas.

Some apps need a subscription while others are free of cost. The Internet can be connected wirelessly as well as via an Ethernet cable.

What is a Cable Box?

A cable box is an electronic device. It acts as a receiver and receives cable channels from a provider.

You can connect it directly to your TV. It functions like the old antennas which were linked with the TVs.

However, antennas were not reliable as they could not deliver strong signals. But, a cable box ensures a smooth watching experience.

What is a Cable-Ready TV?

Cable-ready TVs can receive cable channels without the cable box. Many smart TVs are cable-ready. Some are Interactive Digital Cable Ready (IDCR).

They have more advanced functions such as program guides, video-on-demand content, and pay-per-view.

Is Cable Box Necessary for a Smart TV?

Is it not necessary to have a cable box for your TV. However, there are certain conditions for adding a cable box;

  • If you are a cable lover and cannot watch specific channels without it.
  • You want to access the Premium cable content that is not available on other sources.
  • You live in a locality where internet connection is weak or not available. In this case, the cable box helps you.
  • You have paid for a longer subscription plan. Hence, you should use the cable box to save your money.
  • However, many cable channels have their apps. You can download them for a minimum fee.

Why I Need a Cable Box?

The need for a cable box largely depends on your cable service. If you use Spectrum cable, you need a cable box. Because it does not work without the box.

Alternately, you can download the Spectrum app on your TV. But, it is only possible if you have a Roku Stick. This device allows you to watch cable channels.

Clever Hacks to Watch Cable Free of Cost

Fortunately, there are some clever and legal ways to watch cable free of cost. I have tried them myself. The first hack is to install a digital HDTV antenna on your roof.

It can receive more than 100 local channels free of cost. The second hack is to subscribe to a cheaper or free streaming service such as Crackle, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube.

If your budget is very limited, you can share subscribed accounts with friends. Another trick is to stream cable TV online.

What are the Alternatives to a Cable Box?

There are many other alternatives to a cable box. A highly recommended one is a good internet connection. It lets you watch the whole world.

Just download the streaming apps on your TV. YouTube has a lot of free movies. However, some are exclusively available on Netflix.

But, the subscription fee is very little and you can share your account with others too. Likewise, each TV brand offers its own special app.

For example, Samsung 2017 and later models have a TV+ app. It has a lot of channels. LG TVs have a “Channels Plus” service. Vudu, Crackle, Disney, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.

Some apps are specific to your region and play native content. While others play international content. Hence, they make a great alternative to cable boxes.

FAQs About Cable Box and Smart TV

I have included some other queries that are commonly asked by TV users. They will help you understand the situation further.

Are there any free apps on a smart TV?

Yes, a smart TV has a lot of free apps. They include YouTube, Crackle, Vudu, Sling Free, Tubi, Pluto, Roku, NewsOn, Xumo, Jio TV, PBS Kids, and many more. There can be more apps depending on your region.

What are the drawbacks of having a smart TV?

A smart TV can be hacked just like a computer. So, it poses security risks because it collects your personal data and sells it to advertising companies. Moreover, it is vulnerable to system bugs, malware, and cybercriminals. It is expensive and fragile. Further, it can pose functional issues such as slow speed and unresponsiveness.

Is smart TV better than a normal TV?

Yes, a smart TV is always better than a regular TV. Because it can connect to the internet, streaming devices, media players, external audio systems, and other devices. All these things are not possible with the regular TV. You have countless streaming options with the smart TV. While a regular TV relies only on a media device such as an antenna, cable box, streaming stick, etc.

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Final Words

Hopefully, you have found the answers to your questions in this guide. So, the cable box is not necessary for a smart TV.

However, it is needed only if you want to watch the cable channels that are unavailable anywhere else. I have also told you many alternatives to the cable.

You can watch free content using an antenna or free apps. Moreover, you can purchase streaming devices like FireStick, Roku, etc.

Connecting to the internet and watching your favorite programs is the best way to entertainment. Cable boxes are not essential for smart TVs now.