Almost every TV sold these days is a smart TV. But what if you love your current TV and have no plans to upgrade to a new smart TV right now? Do you have to live with your TV’s “dumb” operating system and be left out of amazing audio and video streaming apps and other modern features? Not really. There are multiple ways in which you can turn your non-smart TV into a smart TV, and that too, without spending a lot of money. But first, let us learn what makes a TV smart.
What Features Make A TV Smart?
To be able to call a TV smart in this day and age, it needs the ability to connect to the internet, seamlessly stream music and videos from the internet, play various kinds of audio, video, and image files, and have access to an AI-powered digital voice assistant. So, to turn a dumb TV into a smart TV, you need a device that can plug into your existing TV’s HDMI port and offer the following features:
- Internet connectivity via an Ethernet port or Wi-Fi
- Have features like smartphone or tablet screen mirroring (also known as screencasting) and DLNA.
- Preferably, have access to audio and video streaming apps like Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube.
- Have access to digital voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.
Ways To Turn Non-Smart TV Into Smart TV
There are various ways in which you can turn your non-smart TV into a smart TV, and the best way is to buy a smart media player (also known as a streaming device) and hook it up to your TV’s HDMI input. Smart media players come in all shapes and sizes (and smart operating systems). So, it is important that you select a media player that works well with other devices in your home such as your smartphone, smart speaker, tablet, computer, and your smart home products. Because it all depends on how well your devices and your smart TV can interact with each other.
For example, if your family members primarily use an Android smartphone and tablet, you should prefer buying an Android TV-based smart media player. If you are deeply invested in Apple’s ecosystem, you should go with an Apple TV. If you are someone who has a lot of Alexa-compatible smart speakers and smart home devices, you should probably buy a Fire TV device.
So, you need to check the following things before you select the media player for your existing TV:
- Which operating system do your smartphone and tablet use?
- Which ecosystem do your smart speakers and smart home products use?
- Do you plan on gaming on your TV?
- Do you have an existing computer or laptop lying around that you no longer actively use?
1. Android TV-Based Media Player Or Chromecast
If you and your family members mostly use Android smartphones and tablets, the best choice is to go with a Chromecast or an Android TV-based smart media player. And that’s because those devices feature Google Case, which can be easily used to stream your favourite music and videos either locally or video audio and video streaming apps like Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify, YouTube, and more. The latest version of Google Chromecast costs ₹3,299, and it can stream music and videos directly via the internet. However, it does not come with a remote controller, so you will have to depend on a smartphone or a tablet.
Always depending on a smartphone can become cumbersome, and if you prefer to have a dedicated remote controller, you should look at Android TV OS-based devices from brands like Flipkart, Motorola, Nokia, and Xiaomi. For the same price as that of the Google Chromecast 3, you can get the Mi TV Stick, Nokia Media Streamer, MarQ by Flipkart Turbostream. Those devices run full-fledged Android TV OS and come with a remote controller, which means you don’t have to rely on a smartphone or a tablet to control the media playback and volume. They also feature native apps for audio and video streaming. And they will work perfectly with your Android smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, and Google Home-based smart speakers. They also feature Google Assistant, which you can use via the remote controller to get answers to your questions, search for information on the internet, and control smart home products. The Mi Box 4K can even play 4K 60fps HDR10 videos out of the box.
Alternatively, you can also buy Android TV-based set-top boxes such as the Airtel Xstream Box, DishTV Smart Hub, and Tata Sky Binge+. Such devices are priced around ₹4,000 and can not only stream live TV channels but also run audio and video streaming apps (also known as OTT apps). One device can do it all.
2. Apple TV
If you have a lot of Apple products, including iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs, you should buy an Apple TV to turn your non-smart TV into a smart TV. Yes, it is four times as costly as competing media streaming devices running Google’s Android TV OS and Amazon’s Fire TV OS, but they are extremely fast and smooth, offer you higher storage, and can even have the firepower to play some fun games. Plus, you can stream audio and video from your iPhone, iPad, and Macs to the Apple TV via AirPlay 2. You can even mirror the screen of your iPhone, iPad, or Mac via the Apple TV. It also has access to all the audio and video streaming apps.
3. Fire TV
If you use an Android smartphone or tablet, but the rest of your smart home devices are compatible with Alexa, you should prefer the Amazon Fire TV. There are three different Fire TV models in India: Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite, and Fire TV Stick 4K. If you have a 1080p TV, go with the Fire TV Stick Lite, and if you have a 4K TV, go with the Fire TV Stick 4K. All these devices feature all the popular audio and video streaming apps, including Apple TV+, Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube. They also feature Alexa and a bundled remote controller, which can be used to control compatible smart home products, get answers and information from the web, and find content to watch.
4. Xbox Gaming Console Or Sony PlayStation
If you already have an Xbox or a PlayStation, you can use that to turn your dumb TV into a smart TV since those gaming consoles have access to apps like Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube. Plus, they have loads of storage space, which means you can store physical audio and video files on the device itself rather than streaming them off the internet. But they have their own set of disadvantages, too. The controllers that come with the Xbox and the Playstation are not easy to use. You have to buy a multimedia remote controller for them for an additional price. Another quirk of these gaming consoles is that they won’t work with your smart home products or take streams from your smartphone or tablet.
5. Just Use Your Old PC/Laptop
You can also use your existing PC or laptop to stream music and movies from your local storage or the internet. Just connect your computer to your TV via an HDMI cable to play music or videos. You can do that via the web browser or by installing audio and video streaming apps. You can even access Alexa and Google Assistant via your computer, which means that you can get answers from the internet via voice commands, control compatible smart home products, and call your friends and family.
So, those are the best ways to convert your existing TV or a monitor into a smart TV. This way, you can save some money by not buying a brand new TV or repurpose old TVs or monitors into smart TVs. You can also use the monitor in your work setup to double up as a device to listen to music or watch movies and TV shows.