Why buy a very expensive Smart TV when at a much lower cost you can bring all the main Smart functions, from online browsing to streaming content, to any TV with an HDMI port? If you are asking yourself this question and looking for a way to make the TV in your living room Smart – a great TV from a few years ago, which still works fine but does not have an Internet connection – know that you have come to the right place. at the right time!
In today’s guide, we will discover, together, how to turn the TV into Smart TV using some devices capable of connecting to the Internet, receiving audio/video streams from smartphones, tablets, PCs, or online services and running applications. There is something for all tastes and needs, with prices ranging from 40 to over 100 euros. All you have to do is pay attention to all the solutions that I will provide you in the next chapters.
How do you say? Can’t wait to start reading this guide? So what are you waiting for? Let’s not waste any more precious time and get started immediately. What you have to do is sit down comfortably and read all the tips you will find by continuing to read the next paragraphs. I just have to wish you a good reading and, above all, a good vision!
How to turn the TV into Smart TV
If you are wondering how it is possible to transform an old TV into a Smart one, what you need to do is read all the solutions that I will propose to you in the next chapters. I’m sure you’ll find the device that’s right for you to have a Smart TV in your living room too.
The first device I want to recommend is Chromecast: it is an HDMI dongle, that is a sort of key to be connected to the HDMI port of the TV, which allows you to receive streaming content from the Internet (eg YouTube, Spotify, Netflix ) and perform the screen mirroring from smartphones, tablets, and computers.
It offers a practically unbeatable quality/price ratio and, for this reason, it represents one of the best solutions to bring the Internet connection on non-Smart TVs. In fact, in addition to being economical, it is easy to use and is compatible with a wide range of devices. There are two Chromecast models available.
- Chromecast which costs 39 euros and allows you to view videos up to a resolution of 1080p.
- Chromecast Ultra which costs 79 euros, supports both 4K resolution and HDR and includes an Ethernet port for wired connection to the network.
Chromecast is based on Google Cast wireless technology, which is compatible with all tablets and smartphones equipped with Android 4.1 or higher, with iPhones, iPads, and with all computers capable of running the Chrome browser.
The resolution of the videos transmitted through this device, as already mentioned, can go up to 1080p (Full HD) with the basic model of the dongle and up to 4K with the Ultra model. Lag, i.e. transmission delays with respect to the source, are minimal.
To use Chromecast, simply plug the device into an HDMI port on your TV and into the power outlet (or even just a USB port on your TV if you’re using the base model of the dongle). Then you need to download the app to configure the device, Google Home ( Android / iOS / iPad ), on your smartphone or tablet and follow the instructions on the screen.
After the Chromecast has been configured, you just need to install an app with Google Cast support on your smartphone or tablet, start playing the audio/video content to be sent to the TV and press the transmission icon.
There are so many apps compatible with this system: YouTube, Netflix, Infinity, Spotify, Google Music, Plex and many other less “noble” apps that allow you to play content in streaming or from the local network (eg from NAS or hard disk network) on the TV in a really simple way.
As I mentioned earlier, Chromecast can also be used to broadcast what’s happening on your computer screen in real-time, using the broadcast functionality in the browser settings menu.
If you want to know more about how to install and configure Chromecast and how to best use it from your devices, I recommend that you read my tutorial on how Chromecast works.
Fire Stick TV
Among the dongles you can use to turn your TV into a Smart TV, I can recommend Fire Stick TV. This Amazon device allows you to access the on-demand video content of Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Infinity and to be able to install many other apps to play on the TV screen, since it is equipped with Android.
Its cost is not excessive and is available in two models: the basic one, which supports resolutions up to 1080p, and the more advanced one, which supports 4K resolution.
Both devices must be connected to the TV’s HDMI port and to the power supply. In addition, they are equipped with remote control with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. If you want to know more about Fire Stick TV, I suggest you read my guide dedicated to the subject.
Does your smartphone or tablet support Miracast technology? Then you can buy an adapter, to connect to the HDMI socket of your TV, and get the possibility to transmit audio/video contents to the TV (including screen mirroring). They are generally cheap, but beware of excessively low-cost ones, as they can offer poor performance.
More specifically, Miracast is a technology promoted by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which allows you to transmit audio / video content wirelessly and to mirror the screen of smartphones, tablets and computers using Wi-Fi Direct technology (therefore not needing a support wireless network to work).
Miracast supports video with a resolution of up to 4K and lag during transmission are generally few, even if it all depends on the distance between the source and destination devices.
Support for this technology should be guaranteed on all Android devices starting from version 4.4 or higher and on many Windows terminals of recent production. Unfortunately, however, it is necessary to verify device by device, as not all manufacturers have decided to adopt it. On the other hand, all Apple devices that, in its place, use a proprietary wireless technology, called AirPlay , are excluded from Miracast support .
Miracast adapters for televisions can be extremely cheap (around 30 euros) or a little more expensive (perhaps produced by well-known brands, such as Microsoft). I will immediately point out a couple of the most interesting, but I recommend: before buying one, always check its degree of reliability, reading the comments of those who have already bought it.
Android TV Box
Another solution you can employ is the one that requires the use of Android TV Box. These are very small computers equipped with Android, which can have the shape of a small box or even a key to be connected directly to the TV and can be controlled by remote control (often included in the sales package) or mouse and keyboard.
There are also very cheap ones, but you have to be careful not to buy poor quality products. Generally, these TV Boxes include the Kodi app: an extremely versatile media center that, thanks to special plugins that can be downloaded for free from the Internet, allows you to watch movies, TV series, anime, documentaries and much other content on-demand and on the local network…
Android TV Boxes can include USB ports, microSD card readers and can be connected to the Internet either via Wi-Fi or via Ethernet cable. They may have support for wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and DLNA and generally support both Full HD and 4K content (with some limitations related to certain file types).
There are really TV Boxes for all tastes and, above all, for pockets. The cheaper ones can cost even less than 40 euros, but obviously you have to be careful of “scams”: many cheap TV Boxes, in fact, suffer from problems related to Wi-Fi reception and overheating.
Furthermore, compatibility with applications such as NOW TV, Premium Play, and similar apps is not always 100% guaranteed, as is support for playback in Full HD on Netflix, which for licensing reasons is only available on certain devices.
As can be easily understood, the higher the price is, the less risk there is of running into poor quality devices. Arriving at the top of the market, you can also buy devices such as the NVIDIA Shield TV: a mix between an Android TV Box and a video game console, which allows you to watch the content of any kind (even in 4K) and play with a special controller. Below you will find the links to buy some of the most interesting Android TV Boxes, in terms of value for money.
NOW TV Smart Stick
NOW TV Smart Stick is an HDMI key made by Roku, thanks to which you can access all the contents of NOW TV, the streaming service of Sky, and Netflix . It is extremely compact and easy to use: just plug it into the HDMI port of the TV and power it through the USB socket of the same TV or the supplied power supply.
In a few moments, through a simple Wi-Fi connection, you have access to the entire NOW TV catalog, with films, TV series, and on-demand programs (even in Full HD quality), plus the best Sky channels and events sports live streaming.
It is especially suitable for those who want to subscribe to Sky without installing the dish and without having any contractual obligations. In addition, it also offers access to a wide range of additional applications, such as YouTube , Vimeo, and the aforementioned Netflix, and allows you to play multimedia files from the local network.