Do Smart TVs Have Cameras? (How to be Sure…!)
As smart TVs become a common feature in homes across the country, there have been increased concerns over privacy. Many users worry that hackers will be able to access their smart TV and steal data and private information, or even spy on them.
So do smart TVs have cameras? Yes, some smart TVs have cameras built in. If your TV offers facial recognition or video calling apps like Skype, then your smart TV probably has a camera. If you aren’t sure, look closely around the bezel of your TV or check the user manual.
How to tell if my smart TV has a built-in camera?
If your TV offers facial recognition or video calling apps like Skype, then yes, your smart TV probably has a camera. If you are not sure, here are a few handy tips to help you find the camera:
Check the bezels
Cameras are typically installed in the bezels (the frame around the screen) at the top or bottom of the TV. Although they can occasionally be found on the left or right sides.
Cameras are usually easy to find by shining a light from a small flashlight or your phone. This will reflect off the camera lens and make it easier to spot.
Read the manufacturer’s guide
The manufacturer’s guidelines that come with your TV are a good place to start if you need more detailed information.
Nowadays, most smart TVs produce their guidelines in digital form and can be accessed through the TV itself.
(For example if you search the Samsung F7500 series 7 55” TV user guide for the word “camera” you’ll quickly see that the TV has one)
Do an internet search for your TV using the model name and number plus ‘camera’. This should help you find more information about your specific set.
Are cameras in smart TVs a risk?
Consumer Reports published an article in 2018 suggesting that smart TVs were at high risk of hacking.
Even the FBI weighed in, suggesting that owners of smart TVs should consider the security issues that come with such devices.
All smart TVs and media content apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ use automatic content recognition (ACR) to track what you are watching.
They collect and sell this data to advertisers, and this determines which adverts you see. Helpfully, ARC tracking can be turned off in your settings.
Instead of cameras, many newer models opt for voice activation features built into the set or remote control.
They can also be hooked up to Google or Alexa devices. Voice activation can also be turned off in your settings.
Smart TVs that do have cameras often include a slidable cover or are retractable. A retractable camera can be pushed back into the TV when not in use so there you don’t need to worry about being spied on.
If the thought of having a smart TV in your bedroom or living room is still a big concern, it may just be simpler to buy a second-hand ‘dumb’ TV (i.e., one that doesn’t connect to the internet).
My smart TV has an in-built camera that I don’t want
If you have a smart TV with a camera but don’t feel all that comfortable with it, here are some practical tips you can do right now to combat any lingering privacy concerns:
Cover the camera
The cheapest and quickest way to ensure the no one will be able to see you through the TV is by covering up the camera lens with a piece of dark tape, adhesive putty or a small piece of folded card.
Change your passwords
Some smart TVs allow you to change the administrative password settings. This will make it more difficult for potential hackers to gain access to your TV.
Update your privacy settings
Check your privacy settings on your TV and ensure that your TV has the latest updates.
Manufacturer’s software updates often include privacy and security upgrades (note: updates require the TV to be connected to the internet).
Disconnect the TV from the internet
If your TV is not connected to the internet, there is no way for hackers to access it. This may reduce the services you can access through your TV, such as apps.
Avoid connecting to any unsecured open Wi-Fi networks as your TV may be able to automatically join these. It’s also a good idea to fully power down your TV when you’re not using it.
Factory reset your TV
TV manufactures have to ask your permission before collecting your data, it’s the law.
Factory resetting your TV allows you to actually read what you’re agreeing to during the setup process. Instead of just racing through, saying yes to everything.
My smart TV doesn’t have a camera, but I’d like one
As working from home has become more accessible, many people have found that using their TV for work-related video calls is better than using a webcam on a computer monitor or laptop.
Smart TVs tend to offer a much larger screen and better clarity that make doing Zoom meetings from home a breeze.
If your smart TV doesn’t have a camera but you like the idea of facial recognition software and video calling capabilities, there are plenty of plug-in cameras available to help turn your TV into a work-friendly piece of tech.
One of the better options is a 1080P HD Webcam with Microphone made by Septekon (you can check the price on Amazon here).
Others, like Facebook’s Portal TV, are suitable for work as well as connecting with family and friends thanks to a bunch of fun social media features like filters and AR masks.
With so many smart TVs available, it really is the buyer’s choice.
Smart TVs with cameras are on the more expensive end of the market. One alternative option is to buy a smart TV and a separate camera which can be less expensive than buying a smart TV with a camera.
Lots of brand name and third-party cameras are available to plug into smart TVs and can be disconnected when not in use.
Any device that connects to the internet is at some risk of internet or software hacking.
And just like our computers and phones, smart TVs are vulnerable to these types of attacks.
However, checking your privacy settings and allowing regular updates to ensure your smart TV has the latest privacy software can help combat this.
Not all smart TVs have cameras, and it should be relatively easy to find this out before you buy. If the TV supports facial recognition or advertises its video calling apps like Skype or Zoom, it is likely there will be an in-built camera.