SMART TV in hospitality TV projects

Hospitality TV using STB? Sometimes a SMART TV is not as good and you want to keep the SMART part divided from the TV panel.

The original reason why TV manufacturers started offering SMART TV models is that they compete with smarter devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. A media device that allows people to play their favourite videos from YouTube channels or Netflix movies would divert customers' attention from the regular TV that only local live channels can show TV. These channels may not match the current mood or preferences of the viewer. This is important when you start a TV project in the hospitality industry. This infographic created by Nielsen shows that users prefer to have a smart device at hand when watching TV.     Graph that shows frequency of evice usage while watching TV. Device usage graph See the full report by Nielsen here.      




    SMART TVs offer interactivity, allowing viewers of TV to access Internet-based video content, install apps, play games and use similar functions to tablets or smartphones. This creates added value for customers who want to own a SMART TV rather than a regular TV. A set-top box coupled with a TV provides a similar and in most cases a better experience than a SMART TV, which also has a special built-in module similar to an STB. From the user's point of view, the SMART TV solution looks more elegant, as you have a device without external boxes, extra cables or distortion of aesthetics and design. For installers and technicians, a single device is probably better because there are fewer outlets needed, fewer cables to connect and fewer devices to maintain. But for the technicians who maintain the IPTV system, this solution may not be as good if they want to fix some user-reported problems or add new features. Sometimes SMART TV is not so good, and you want to keep the SMART part separate from the TV panel so you can update or repair it quickly. Both types of client devices have their own advantages and disadvantages. A SMART TV is more convergent but less flexible, it is packaged, elegant and compact, while the external STB is very flexible, more compatible and easier to maintain.      


Set-top box in your service


    Nothing is easier than supplying and installing a set-top box to provide access to IPTV services. Any TV with an HDMI port can be connected and work perfectly. Installation usually does not even require a service person on site. (i.e. the customer can simply receive the STB by mail and install it themselves). The pre-configured software immediately connects to the IPTV server. Once the set-top box is installed and connected to the TV and the IP network, virtually no configuration is required to access IPTV services. For IPTV providers, using an external STB makes it very easy to build and develop their business. They can simply rent some set-top boxes from local stores or sell them online with courier delivery. Customers just need to connect the STB to a local network or ISP to access the IPTV services offered by that network or ISP. With simple instructions, they can easily do this themselves. The same is true for OTT: a global service can be provided if the STB is connected to the Internet and has an active service subscription to watch live TV, video-on-demand and other OTT services. SMART TV is not as flexible here, as the models are different and many proprietary platforms are used in SMART TV devices, which usually present enough obstacles for developers. See the "Comparison" tab for some differences between STB and SMART TV clients.    


STB and SMART TV comparison


Feature Set Top Box SMART TV
Choice of TV models any TV model Limited only to SMART models
Control over OS full remote access Limited or not available
Centralized support fully supported Limited or not available
Logs and diagnostic remotely collectible Limited or not available
DRM availability popular DRM available, easy to implement new DRM Limited to SMART TV vendor’s choice
Convergence Require more cables to connect STB to TV Fewer cables, an all-in-one device
New features any TV model Limited only to SMART models
4K support full support Limited or not available
UI performance Without noticeable delay May show delay
Ease of management Same management tools for different models Each model requires a different approach
Bug fixing STB firmware is constantly updated and easy to fix Proprietary software hard to fix or update
Integration with 3rd Party Solutions fully available Limited or not available


This sheet displays some pros and cons of STB and SMART TV client devices.       An external STB is not free of problems. But thanks to open and widely available platforms, hardware and technologies used in external STBs, such problems can be fixed much more easily and quickly. This provides the ideal foundation to start developing a client application right away. A SMART TV client application typically operates in a proprietary environment, on very specific hardware, and is bound by rules and policies set by the vendor SMART TV. Typically, vendors are very strict with the restrictions and create many obstacles for developers, making SMART TV a poor choice for projects where customization and integration are important.      


Why hospitality TV is better with STB


With an STB, it is much easier to achieve a higher level of customization. This is one good reason why a Hospitality TV project is better implemented with an STB than with an SMART TV. Integration of property management systems is also a major advantage of an STB client. A set-top box comes with a remote control adapted to the STB's UI. This allows intuitive, easy control of IPTV services on the TV screen without compromise or inconvenience. With a SMART TV, developers have to deal with buttons that are already arranged on the remote controls of the particular model of SMART TV. This sometimes results in less convenience and a distorted user experience.  

Nevron FastBox product.


The availability of UI customizations and integration with PMS makes STB an ideal choice for Hospitality TV projects.   IPTV system providers can choose from remote controls available on the market or even design and manufacture their own remote controls that fully comply with the original idea of UI, expressed by the developers of the system. All kinds of remote controls can be found on the market, such as a full QWERTY layout, G-sensor and accelerometer controlled joysticks, trackballs, trackpads, sensor pads, buttons with light effects and many other function-enhancing controls. A SMART TV does not have this freedom of choice. The UI is a proprietary design, and applications must be created within strict guidelines dictated by the remote's button layout, the specifics of the platform, and the graphical interface of the SMART TV model used.      




    It's difficult to make a solid recommendation on which client device to use, as it really depends on the goals and budget of the project. For luxury projects such as five-star hotels or cruise ships, the STB provides a better user experience and allows the technology to be kept up to date. For small projects and low budgets, a SMART TV may be a better and sometimes the only available option.


If you bought a smart TV a couple of years ago chances are its interface, apps, and capabilities, not to mention its response time, seem dated by comparison to a $99 box. Most smart TV platforms are updated only during the year they were launched, if then, and afterward age as quickly as any technology.

-Geoffrey MorrisonCNET (Read the full CNET article here.) But for most projects, it is recommended to consider an external STB, especially as it is possible to install them on the back of the TV and power up from PoE. This does not require the use of an additional power outlet for the STB      


What about the cables?


    All this allows the installation and use of an external set-top box without compromising the aesthetics of the TV panel, as was originally planned. In addition, the STB can be quickly replaced or the firmware updated. Even the remote control of the STB can be used to control the basic functions of TV (e.g. power on/off and volume/mute), so the user will never find out if an external STB is actually connected to TV. At the same time, the user experience is guaranteed to be better than SMART TV. For the technicians maintaining the IPTV system, an external STB is easier to maintain than a proprietary module installed in a SMART TV.      


Interested to find out more about STB and smart TV hospitality TV solutions?


    In order to make a proper decision about which Hospitality TV Solution to choose you are invited to get in touch with Nevron IPTV consultant. Both Hospitality TV Solutions will be presented to you. The pros and cons of both Solutions will be discussed in-depth in order for you to fully understand them. Please write an email to


User avatar
Published on February 6, 2017

Recommended for you

Stay updated with new trends and solutions that will help your business