Smart TV’s are fantastic if they do what they are meant to do and beyond frustrating when they don’t. I have been down this road when I purchased a Smart TV, bought it home and then tried to connect it to the Internet and my home network.
Are you having problems connecting your smart television to the Internet? Here are ten fairly simple tricks you can try to get online and start watching your favorite movies and programs.
Smart TV Connection Tip #1—Check That You’re On The Right Network
If you’re using wifi for your smart connection, make sure your television connected itself to the correct network. If you live in an apartment complex, condominiums, or other close-together housing, there are probably several connections for your television to choose from. It may have simply connected to your neighbor’s network by default.
Check your television’s manual to see how to get to the wifi setup screen and check to see that it uses the same network name (SSID) as your laptop or mobile device uses.
You will find the network settings for your Smart TV in the settings menu on your TV. Simply select the correct network and choose to connect to that.
Smart TV Connection Tip #2—Check That It Authenticated
You should be using wifi security, which means your television needs to prove to your router that it has permission to access your network, called authentication. Again, open up your television’s wifi setup screen and look at its status description. If it lists your network name (SSID) but says “Not connected” (or something similar), look for a “Connect” button and watch what it says.
It may prompt you for a password—which is your router Pre-Shared Key (PSK), the same code you enter on other mobile devices. If your router has a button on top, you may be able to press it a few seconds before you choose “Connect” on the television to allow you television to connect without a password—this is called push-button connect.
Smart TV Connection Tip #3—Don’t Use Guest Mode
Some routers today have a “guest mode” that allows devices to access your network but only in a locked-down mode that reduces hacking risk. However, this mode can interfere with your television’s automatic Internet connection setup mode, so you want your television to connect to your regular wifi connection.
To have guest mode on your router it must either be a router that supports dual SSID (Service Set Identifier, Unique router name) or you have an elaborate guest mode setup through a wireless access point.
Smart TV Connection Tip #4—Check Your Signal Strength
If your wireless router is too far from your television, or your television is inside media center furniture that blocks signal, it’s possible your television isn’t getting any signal. Check by going to your television’s setup screen and using the Scan For Networks feature (which may have another similar name). If you see networks listed, then you have at least some signal strength.
If you don’t see any networks listed, try moving your router closer to the television (but no closer than six inches).
Smart TV Connection Tip #5—Be Patient
If you just got your television, be aware that the first thing it will do when it connects to the Internet is download software updates so you can use the latest Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and other software for your television. During the update process, your television may not let you use any of its Internet features.
Typically the update process takes from one minute to one hour, so if your television appears to be connected to the Internet but otherwise non-functional, take a lunch break and see if giving it some time fixes your problem.
Smart TV Connection Tip #6—Try A Wired Connection
Most smart televisions in the U.S. use wireless connections, but many also have a port to accept a wired connection. Many home routers also have two to eight wired access ports, so if your router is near your television, you can side-step the whole connection issue by using a cheap ethernet cord to connect your router to your television.
First check your television for what looks like a large phone jack—the same type of jack you’ll see on the back of your router. Then buy (or borrow from a friend) a length of pre-made blue CAT-5e or CAT-6 ethernet cord (available in any electronics store). Plug one end into your router and one end into your television, it doesn’t matter which end goes where, and restart your television. It should automatically configure itself—there should be no passwords or anything. Best of all, with a wired connection, you’ll never have any signal problems.
Smart TV Connection Tip #7—Try Different Sites/Apps
Websites and app servers go down occasionally, and it’s difficult to tell the difference between a broken server and a broken connection. If your connection doesn’t seem to be working with Netflix, try Hulu. If the built-in web browser doesn’t load the default webpage, enter another URL.
There might also be a specific download for your exact TV. I have a LG Smart TV and they have an app to download.
Smart TV Connection Tip #8—Check Your Router Logs
If none of the tips above have fixed your connection, you may want to see if your router keeps a log of reasons why it hasn’t let your television connect. Not all routers do this, and some routers provide more detail than others.
Log into your router. (For instructions, check your router manual. Usually you need to connect your laptop or mobile device to http://192.168.1.1 and then enter a username and password specific to your router. Also see how to enter your router homepage.) Then look for a screen that shows you what devices are currently connected—if your television is listed, then it should have access to the Internet (so an app might be broken).
If the television is not listed, look for connection logs on your router. These go under various different names and they can be buried deep in your router settings. But if you find it, they should say something like:
00:22:fa:fd:9c:94 attempted to connect using WPA2-PSK
00:22:fa:fd:9c:94 connection failed: wrong password
Based on that, you’ll know you entered the wrong password. Hopefully the error messages will be descriptive enough to help you solve the problem.
Smart TV Connection Tip #9—Check Parental Controls
This is a mistake I’ve made: I’ve spent nearly an hour on the wifi setup screen trying to diagnose a connection problem only to discover that the parental controls were set to prevent Internet access. If you have a new television or you’re trying to fix someone else’s television, take a quick look at the parental control settings to make sure they aren’t blocking the Internet.
Smart TV Connection Tip #10—Call The Manufacturer
Almost all smart televisions come with free technical support by phone. Before you get so frustrated that you throw your “smart” television out the window, give them a call—they’ll know about the specific problems with your model of television, and sometimes they’ll even provide you with a free bonus for calling with a problem. (I’ve received free parts and I know people who have received free months of Hulu and Pandora.)