While some seniors are highly tech-savvy, most of us have elderly family members who struggle with newer technologies. How can you hook them up with a smart TV they can actually use? Below you’ll find our recommendations for the 5 best smart TVs for seniors.
Older watchers tend to want the same things as everyone else regarding image and sound quality, but they also want something that they can use without fighting with the remote every few minutes or having to call someone to give them a helping hand.
This means they need a user-friendly interface that is familiar, has good voice control, and clarity about what content is available at no charge and what needs to be paid for. We’ll also go through some key features to consider when choosing a smart TV for an older person.
We love this Samsung TV because the picture quality is just so good, providing 4K delivered with dynamic crystal technology for crispness, and Motion Xcelerator to minimize blur.
- 4K dynamic crystal picture quality
- Tizen operating system
- Voice command with Alexa, Google, or Bixby
While this is a great TV for anyone, we recommend it for seniors for a couple of reasons. First, it uses the Tizen operating system, which is one of the better proprietary smart TV options. It is a bit like a cross between Android and Netflix, so the learning curve is very low. The icons are nice and big, and you aren’t pushed to make unnecessary purchases. The app store is limited, but all of the most popular streaming apps are there.
It also has a great, simple remote that uses basic batteries and comes with the TV. It has shortcut buttons to go straight to Netflix and Prime Video, which are among the most popular apps. Voice control is also easy to use on the remote and you can use Alexa, Google, or Bixby, so you can use whatever smart assistant you are accustomed to, without having to adapt to a new one.
For someone who has been using a Fire Stick for a few years and now wants to upgrade to a 4K smart TV, this Insignia model is an excellent option.
- 4K HDR image quality
- Fire TV OS
- Voice command with Alexa
For anyone who has already figured out Fire TV and doesn’t want to learn a new ecosystem when they upgrade to a smart TV, one of these options that runs off the Fire TV platform is an excellent choice. You’ll definitely feel the upgrade in image and sound quality.
The thing to be aware of with Fire TV is that the menu promotes Amazon products. That means if you are searching for a movie, you might be shown the option to pay to rent the movie on Prime, even if you can watch it through your existing Netflix subscription at no additional cost. Anyone who uses Fire TV already knows this, though. You are also limited to Alexa for voice control, but if you already know and love Alexa, this won’t be a problem.
While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend a smart TV running Fire to just anyone, for seniors who already know the system this is an obvious next step.
We love the new Smart Google TV operating system, and this TV pairs the Google OS with some of the best image and sound technology currently on the market.
- Dolby Vision and DTS Virtual X audio
- Google OS
- Google Assistant and Chromecast
This TV delivers 4K with Dolby Vision resulting in 4K UHD with more pixels for a clearer picture. It also uses DTS Virtual X to create deep audio that can fill different rooms with the right sound. It has a high refresh rate and other tweaks that make this a great screen for gaming. This may appeal to some seniors, or their grandkids.
It uses the standard Google remote, which doesn’t have much in terms of bells and whistles, but the voice command works well with Google Assistant. Chromecast is also standard, which is great for sharing family photos and videos among other things. One of the only disappointments with this TV is that it does not have HDMI 2.1, which we like to see on TVs in terms of future-proofing.
This TV combines some of our most important criteria in terms of top image quality and an intelligent and user-friendly operating system.
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This is probably more TV than most people need, but tech lovers and anyone who wants the best picture quality will be very happy with this option from Sony.
- 4K with 120hz refresh rate
- Google Operating System
- Google Assistant or Alexa, and Chromecast or Apple AirPlay
This TV delivers amazing 4K with Motionflow XR that delivers a 120hz refresh rate, which is top-end even when it comes to gaming. It also uses Trilimior Pro to deliver more colors than a conventional TV.
On top of this, it uses the Google OS for Smart TV, which is our preferred OS, but you aren’t limited. While it is designed to work with Google Assistant, you can use Alexa if you prefer. Also, while it comes with Chromecast built-in, it also works with Apple AirPlay if you happen to have an iPhone.
The Google remote has a bit more going on than some other smart remotes, including shortcuts to the most popular applications. It also has TV controls built in, so you can control everything, including TV on and off and volume, from one remote.
If your senior who is looking for a new TV likes their Android smartphone and doesn’t really want to learn to use anything else, this TV that runs the Android operating system will be simple for them to adapt to.
- 4K with Dolby Audio and DTS Sound Studio
- Android operating system
- Google Assistant
This TV delivers a great picture with Dolby Vision and HDR10, and also excellent audio with Dolby Audio and DTS StudioSound technology. This probably has some of the best audio that you will find with any smart TV, but is still highly affordable.
Android phone users will quickly adapt to this Android operating system, which works pretty much exactly like the phone OS. It uses Google Assistant to deliver quality smart voice control.
This is a great affordable option for smartphone-savvy older people who want something that is familiar and has great picture and sound.
What To Look For In A TV For Seniors
When choosing a smart TV for the elderly, clearly you will want to look for the best picture and sound quality. This can be important for anyone with impaired sight or hearing, but also, just because you are a bit older doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate a great picture.
When choosing a size, consider where it will be. Bigger is not always better if you happen to have a small room and need to sit close to the TV.
You might think it is not necessary to purchase full 4K if they don’t have a 4K Netflix subscription and they aren’t scouring the net for movies in 4K, but when buying a new TV, getting 4K is a question of future-proofing. Soon, 4K will be standard and everyone will start to feel the difference when watching non-4K, just as you can really feel the difference when you watch old SD-quality movies now. Assuming you want the TV to have a relatively long lifespan, go for full 4K!
The other thing to consider is how tech-savvy they are. Not all older people are afraid of technology–this is a stereotype–but some are. Even those who know their way around an Android smartphone might not want to spend their time installing Kodi skins and personalizing their menu options just to watch some of their favorite shows.
For most older people, a simple “plug and play” TV is what works best, with simple navigation to the most popular content. It also needs to be clear when content is free, something you already have access to via a subscription, or something that needs to be paid for separately. This is why Fire TV products, which put paid Amazon options ahead of free options you may already have access to in the menu, or Roku options, since often the price of watching things isn’t clear, aren’t at the top of our list.
We also recommend choosing a simple remote, as those tiny keyboards on the back of the remote are a nightmare, especially if you need to squint to see the keys. While voice control might take some getting used to, in our experience, once a senior has this figured out, it tends to be their preferred way to navigate.
Don’t forget to install a VPN on their smart TV to ensure their privacy and protect their data. You’ll find our recommendations for the best VPNs for smart TVs here.
Is Netflix free on Smart TVs?
No, Netflix is not free on Smart TVs. While the app is free to download from app stores, you need a subscription to access the content. The same is true for all premium streaming services such as Prime Video, Disney+, HBO, and Hulu. Note also that if you want to watch Netflix in 4K, you require a premium membership that is a bit more expensive.
Should I buy a 4K TV or full HD?
The picture resolution of 4K is twice as good as HD. While full HD is 1366 by 768 pixels, 4K is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. This may not seem that important now when many of the programs that you are watching are available only in HD and not 4K, but 4K is becoming increasingly standard and in a few years most things will be in 4K.
As we have already seen in the past, we become accustomed to better picture quality quickly, so HD will start looking dated pretty soon.
When buying a new TV go for 4K, otherwise you are limiting the lifespan on that TV. When 4K becomes ubiquitous, you will just want to upgrade again.
What are the best streaming services for seniors?
The best streaming services always depend on the taste of the individual and what they like to watch. Marvel fans need Disney+, while documentary lovers need Netflix. What about older people who still enjoy watching live TV, including the local news, want to watch their local sporting teams, and enjoy reruns of their favorite shows?
Hulu is a good choice as it offers a live TV streaming service and has an excellent collection of classic TV shows available to stream on demand, plus some pretty good new Hulu originals.
For sports and news FuboTV is a good choice. SlingTV is also a good and affordable option for streaming US channels that cable watchers may have enjoyed. For local channels, it is worth buying an antenna and linking it to your streaming Android TV box.
What are the disadvantages of smart TVs for the elderly?
There is no denying that smart TVs are more complicated to use than cable. While cable TV subscriptions package everything in one place, with smart TVs you generally have to work with a variety of apps. While good user-interfaces let you search all your apps for content, you still need to know how to navigate the different apps, not to mention install them.
Aside from it taking time to figure out how to watch what you want, smart TVs can also pose a security risk for seniors. Premium streaming apps like Netflix require your email, password, and payment details to function. This increases the possibility of that data being stolen.
In addition, it is not always crystal clear when you have access to content and when a fee will be charged to watch something. Unwary smart TV users can end up with unexpected bills for just clicking on something they thought looked interesting.
Consequently, it is important to educate people in the community about these risks, and not just the elderly! People of all ages face these challenges.
While we often stereotype older people as not being great with technology, the truth is that there are some seniors out there who really know their stuff and appreciate the latest tech. There are many who struggle when it comes to figuring out the latest tech, though, and these are the people who would benefit from one of the smart TVs on our list.
We have chosen TVs that offer great sound and picture and which are good enough that they are still likely to be considered very good TVs in five years or so, but we have also chosen TVs with the most user-friendly and intuitive interfaces. This means that a senior should be able to figure out what they need without having to call anyone for help.
As part of this, good voice control is essential! No one wants to be typing long search terms into onscreen keyboards or mini remote control keyboards.
Do you have any top tips for choosing the right smart TV for less tech savvy seniors? Share them with the community in the comments section below.