Smart TVs have completely upset the user experience behind the home screen. Thanks to the Internet connection, the television is transformed into a PC equipped with high visual and soundquality , responding to the needs of adults and children.
However, it is possible that you bought the TV just before the Smart models came out, and that now you are wondering how to make up for the lack of smart functions. Thanks to some effective and economical solutions you can turn your TV into a Smart TV, without necessarily having to buy a new model.
The presence of HDMI and USB ports is enough to answer the problem, allowing you to insert some devices that can connect to the Internet. The options to choose from are really many, and they meet everyone’s needs, both in terms of quality of service,and in economicterms. In this guide, therefore, we will discover the best tools for your purpose, reported in order of quality.
The 8 ways to turn TV into Smart TV
As anticipated, there are several solutions that allow you to solve this problem. Each device has been designed to meet specific needs, which is why it may seem more or less advantageous compared to the others. Let’s see in detail what it is:
This device, which we could identify as an HDMI stick, represents one of the best solutions to bring the Internet connection to normal TVs. The connection is simple and intuitive, as well as supported by a very wide range of models.
Its function is to make tv receive streaming content from the Internet, from platforms such as YouTube, Spotify or Netflix. In addition, it also allows you to connect with devices such as smartphones, computers and tablets, allowing you to watch your content on your home screen.
The winning aspect of Chromecast is definitely the value for money, which we could define over the top. The models that today attract the most attention are:
- Chromecast: with € 39 you can view videos with a resolution of up to 1080p;
- Chromecast Ultra: with € 79 you will have content available in UHD 4K and with HDR.
Wanting then, despite being a slightly outdated solution, there is the possibility of buying Chromecast audio. The latter refers only to audio systems, a solution that is rarely taken into account when it comes to Smart TVs.
In this case we are faced with a tool that offers the possibility of connecting the smartphone to the television via the Wifi connection. However, this convenience can only be exploited by devices that support Miracast technology; otherwise you will have to evaluate other solutions. To take advantage of this feature you will only have to buy an adapter to connect to the HDMI port of the TV.
The maximum resolution of the videos are 1080p,and transmission delays are very rare. This technology should be available for all devices running Android and on some Windowsterminals . However, it is worth checking since, not all companies have decided to adopt it. Miracast support excludes Apple devices, which use a wireless system called AirPlay.
In the final analysis it is fair to say that, despite the fact that these are generically cheapadapters , care must be taken not to rely on excessively low-cost ones, which could experience a disappointment.
Android TV Boxes look a lot like real computers, contained within a single container to be connected to the TV. The aesthetics are similar to that of a decoder, but in some cases they also come in the form of keys slightly longer than the classic ones. The connection takes place directly to the television, and for use you can take advantage of the remote control that has been given to you, or a wireless keyboard or mouse.
The supported operating system is Android, and in most cases you also have the Kodi app included. This, thanks to some plugins downloadable from the Internet, allows the viewing of movies, TV series, documentaries and, more generally, on-demand content. In addition, it offers access to multiple live streamingTV channels .
The transmission quality is very high, as android TV boxes support content in both Full Hd and UHD 4K. For the Internet connection you can choose the Wifi connection, the Ethernet cable, bluetooth and DLNA. The configuration may seem difficult at first, but it remains within everyone’s reach.
An aspect to pay attention to is definitely the price of these devices, as it is very variable. However, those that are too cheap could present problems that go against the proper functioning of the TV Box. Let’s talk about delay in receiving the Wifi signal and overheating.
Do not underestimate the compatibility with some applications, such as NOW Tv, Premium Play and many others, which from very cheap devices is not entirely guaranteed. The same goes for the playback of full HD content on Netflix, which remains available only on some devices. Below you will find two models with a very different price range, although both are very valid:
4. Apple TV
As you can guess, in this case we are facing a device designed for Apple smartphones. By connecting it to the TV you will be able to access the Internet and see your content on your home screen. In addition, the latest model also allows you to take advantage of gaming and entertainment applications, offering a completely complete experience.
At the moment there are three models of Apple TVavailable :
- 3at generation: the most obsolete model of the American company, no longer officially produced by Apple, provides a very limited number of applications;
- 4at generation: penultimate model that has the App Store as for iPads and iPhones to download applications, equipped with a touch remote control;
- Apple Tv 4K: latest generation model that has all the peculiarities of the 4th generation one plus support for 4K UHD resolution, Dolby Vision and HDR10. The available variants are 32 and 64 GB.
The last two generations support AirPlay technology, which offers videos with resolution in Full HD and very minimal delays on images. To work it requires the connection of a Wifi network, which allows you to send videos directly from the iPad or iPhone. The latter must be connected to the same Wifi network to which the Apple TV is connected.
5. NOW TV Box
NOW TV Box is a device distributed directly by Sky Italia that allows you to access sky onlineon-demand video content, but also platforms such as Spotify and Vevo. In this case therefore, the option of this box must be taken into account only if you wish to subscribe to Sky Online.
In essence, the service is meant to let you see Sky’s programs via your Internet connection. The contents available are those of the Entertainmentsection, Sky Sports and Cinema,but also a wide range of movies and TV series. However, you have to keep in mind that NOW TV Box does not have extra functions compared to those offered by NOW TV. That is why we recommend that you evaluate it as a possible option if you want to subscribe to Sky without the parabola.
Always linked to the speech of NOW TV and Sky, another great option is the NOW TV Smart Stick, an HDMI stick. The shape remains very compact and simple to use, since you just have to insert it into the appropriate door of the television. To use it you will only have to power it with the supplied cable and connect it to the Wifi network.
In just a few steps you’ll have access to all Sky content, including on-demand programs and some additional applications, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Vevo. Thanks to thesmartphone app you can also project your content on the television display, and also use it to give commands. The cost is the same as that of NOW TV Box, or € 29.99 and includes the free viewing of a section of your choice between Entertainment, Cinema and TV Series for three months. Read the in-depth review
6. Smart Decoder
The smart decoder combines the functions of the typical DTT/SAT decoder with the Internet connection and the services of the main Italian broadcasters:Rai Replay, Premium Play, La7, Infinity and much more. The offer, therefore, is very rich, which is why a smart decoder has prices higher than the options seen so far.
Generally they exceed € 100,but guarantee a very high quality of service: support for Wifi connection, USB ports to play or record multimedia content and playback of video or audio from the local network.
Here we come to the latest solution that allows you to turn your TV into a Smart TV: Smart Blu-Ray players. The speech is very similar to that of decoders, as these are devices that maintain the basic characteristics but that offer additional functionality. In essence it is a normal Blu-Ray player capable of connecting to the Internet, and transmitting streaming content.
The cost of these devices is very variable, as factors such as Wifi or Ethernet connection and “normal” or 4K UHD resolution come into play. Our advice is to opt for this solution if you need a Blu-Ray player, otherwise we suggest you go back to the first options (Chromecast, TV Box, HDMI sticks etc.).
As you can see for yourself, there is no reason to get rid of your television in order to enjoy the features of a Smart TV. At your disposal there are all the possible and imaginable options: comfortable, practical, economical and complete. Each person relies on the one that best meets their needs,and that above all reflects the expected spending budget.
On the other hand, however, if you want to have the comforts related to voice commands and interactions with Alexa or Google Assistant, there are no devices capable of integrating traditional television up to this point. In addition, the latest generation Smart TVs offer a quality level of images and sound that can rarely be compared to that of previous TVs.
In these two cases there is nothing you can do but head towards the purchase of a new Smart TV. As for the Internet connection, the use of the app to control the screen, streaming content, sharing content from mobile, and everything we have seen so far, you can integrate these functions with a truly smart solution.
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