If you want to watch live Freeview TV then yes you need an aerial. If you only plan on using services that stream through an internet connection such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube to name a few then no you will not need an aerial.
If you need an aerial, or not, comes down to what you plan on watching on your Smart TV.
Below I've shared with you what a smart TV can do with an aerial, and what it cannot do.
Remember: The difference between a non smart and smart TV is the fact the smart one can connect to the internet.
Do You Need An Aerial For A Smart TV
No, you don’t need an aerial for a smart TV to work, unless you want to watch live terrestrial TV, also known as Freeview in the UK.
If you do want to watch terrestrial TV on your smart television then yes, you’re going to need an aerial in the majority of cases, other options include having a satellite dish, or virgin TV which uses a cable.
With Freeview channels though, it’s important to know that your aerial/antenna will only be able to pick up certain channels depending on your local area.
To find out which channels you’ll be able to get go here.
I checked for my area and I can pick up 118 free channels, including all the popular ones like BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, S4C (welsh channel), Channel 5 and so on..
Does A Smart TV Need An Aerial To Watch Netflix Etc..
No, to watch streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and so on you will not need an aerial.
You also don't need an aerial for on demand and catch up apps such as BBC I player, ITV hub etc..
What you will need instead is an internet connection with decent speeds.
The download speeds you will need depends on what definition you're going to be watching in, but typically you will want speeds of around 3 Mbps on average to stream in standard definition, High definition will need around 8 Mbps, and 4K will need speeds of around 25mbps minimum to work without buffering, depending on how many other devices you've connected to the internet at the same time.
To check your download speeds, all you need to do is type 'internet speed test' on google and a speed test tool will come up.
Here are my results from the speed test:
With my speeds I should be able to stream up to 4k definition.
However, it's important to remember that the more devices that are competing for the same internet connection will cause the speed to be lower, therefor I'd recommend having speeds of around 50Mbps at least if you want to stream in UHD and have other devices connected to the internet at the same time to ensure you don't get any issues such as buffering or lost connections.
Is There A Certain Type Of Aerial A Smart TV Needs
No, the aerial input on a Smart TV is exactly the same as one on a non smart one.
The only difference between a smart TV and a non one is the ability that the Smart television has to connect to the internet.
So if you already had an aerial that worked on your older TV, all you will need to do for it to work on your new smart TV is plug it into the aerial input and you will be able to enjoy exactly the same Freeview channels as you could on your previous one.
If you hadn't already had an aerial in place, then your options are basically an outdoor one or an indoor one.
In almost all circumstances and outdoor aerial is going to work 100x times more reliably than an indoor one.
There are many different types of indoor and outdoor aerials, so my advice would be to ask a professional which would be your best option and get them to install it.
You now know that depending on what you plan on watching on your smart TV will depend on if you need an aerial or not.
If you plan on watching a fair bit of live Freeview TV, then yes, you're going to need an aerial even with a smart TV.
But if you mainly plan on watching TV on catch up services such as BBC iPlayer, use streaming services such as Netflix, and watch a lot of YouTube videos (mainly what I do on mine) then it's not an aerial you will need but a decent internet connection.
So before you buy a smart TV, you need to decide what exactly you're going to be mainly using it to watch, then decide if you need to get an aerial installed as-well, if you haven't got one already.