Everywhere you look all the big TV companies are now offering “smart” TVs. Most people only buy TVs every few years, so what if you’ve missed the smart train? The good news is that it’s totally possible to make your TV smart without buying a new one.
So in this article, I’m going to go over what makes a TV “smart” and then show you a few different ways in which you can make your tv smart.
I’ll touch on the following key points:
- What makes a TV “smart”?
- What sort of TV can become smart?
- Ways to make your TV smart
What Makes a TV Smart Anyway?
When we talk about “smart” appliances it basically means that there’s a computer built into it and that it can connect to the internet. In general, that’s really all there is to it.
In practice, a smart TV is really just a TV that has a tablet PC or smartphone’s guts stuffed into it. More often than not it will run the same software that those devices do.
So to summarize, a smart TV is one that:
- is computerized.
- lets you add and remove software in the form of apps.
- connects to the internet.
So now the question is can you make your TV smart?
What Sort of TV can Become Smart?
Most of the methods we can use to make a TV into a smart TV work best with a fairly modern HDTV. So your 720p plasma that’s still clinging on for dear life will be just fine.
If you still have an older CRT TV rocking that old-school blur-o-vision all is not lost. Some of the devices that we can use to bring smart functions to the living room will work with SD TVs. Streaming services like Netflix will also happily stream at that quality.
Just keep in mind that on an SD TV a lot of text may be hard to read well. It’s a little uncomfortable, but after a while, you’ll be used to it.
Ways To Make Your TV Smart
So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of it all. Here are some simple (and not so simple) ways to add a little genius to your viewing.
Stick It To Your TV
A stick computer is basically a smartphone with no screen. It’s just a little box with an HDMI port at one end. Plug it into your TV and it adds all the parts in that Smart TVs ship with internally.
It’s a great solution because it’s basically invisible. Most of them will come with some sort of remote control and you’ll pretty soon forget that your TV wasn’t always like this.
The downside to this is that there are lots of cheap and junky stick PCs on the market. The good ones from Google, Amazon and companies like Asus are a bit pricey as well.
If you can find a good one, however, this is a great way to make your TV smart, especially if you have it wall-mounted.
Modern gaming consoles can do a lot more than let you shoot at people or pretend to play sports. These are now fully-fledged media machines that give you access to all sorts of apps. You’ll find most of the mainstream video apps like Netflix and Hulu present and accounted for.
This is definitely one of the pricier options, so if you or someone else in the house isn’t also a gamer I wouldn’t start here. At least, that is if you are looking at the latest Playstation or Xbox.
The previous generation of premium console are still kicking around and there are many to be had for a bargain if you get them used. On top of this, they still support SD TVs! So you can actually get Netflix working on an old CRT TV. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.
My personal vote is for the PS3 because it’s also a BluRay player and you can pick them up for very little now.
You can also pick up the official Sony PS3 remote and do away with the slightly cumbersome gamepad. The gamepad works for media control, but it’s not ideal.
The cheapest way to make your TV smart is probably by using a Google Chromecast. You may mistake the Chromecast for a stick computer at first, but it’s actually something a bit different.
The Chromecast plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and acts as a bridge to your phone, tablet or Chrome browser on PC. You use one of those devices to start the video or stream you want to watch and it plays on the TV instead.
If you already own a smartphone or tablet this is a really affordable way to do the job. The downside is that the number of apps that support the Chromecast is a little short.
The next option is to use a boxed media streamer. These include devices like the Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku. They are all fine options that aren’t as bulky as a console, but not as svelte as a stick PC.
Does Not Compute
Finally, you can just do what savvy geeks have been doing for years: use a media PC. With a special media PC keyboard and touchpad combo, you can have the full-fat PC experience from your couch. Normal Windows may not be great, but you can (and should) get a media interface app like Kodi.
You don’t have do use a specialized media PC either, you can repurpose an old laptop or something too. It’s just not as pretty.
Let the Binge Begin
Once you’ve made your TV Smart you can subscribe to the various video streaming services and start enjoying them, if you haven’t already. Bingeing the entire Start Trek franchise is just so much more satisfying on the big screen after all.
Can you think of any other solutions to make your TV smart? Have you come up with an awesome and elegant solution? Let me know in the comments.
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