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How to turn your TV into a SMART TV

How To Turn Your TV Into A SMART TV

Turning your regular TV into a SMART TV is easier than ever with the introduction of streaming devices, cheap cables and fast broadband connections. We’re going to run through the simplest fixes for hooking your TV up to the internet.

smarttvwhatis

What is SMART TV?

Smart TV‘ is the term for any TV that has built-in internet access.

This connection to the internet allows the TV to work with a range of online services like live streaming, on-demand video, social media and applications.

SMART TVs have the ability to connect to the internet (via WiFi or Ethernet) and process the incoming information on their operating system like a basic computer.

A non-SMART TV (or Dumb TV) doesn’t have these features, so requires help from an external source.

Turning a Dumb TV into a SMART TV requires an external device to access the internet and process the incoming information. The online content is then sent from the streaming player to be displayed on your TV.

What do you need?

All you need is a streaming device and broadband internet connection (ideally over 2mbps) with either an Ethernet Cable or WiFi router. A HDMI cable or VGA/Audio cable combination is always handy to transfer the image from the device to the TV.

The options:

Media/Streaming Playersroku-lt-chart-pics-p_1

Media boxes and streaming players are internet-enabled devices with built-in preset channels and applications. Think of them like a Freeview box that hooks up to your WiFi to stream content rather than using an aerial connection.

All you need to do is plug the device into a TV, usually through the HDMI port, and power it up via a USB or wall socket. The device then works as a mini computer to process the incoming internet signal and link it to the built-in apps and channels.

The preset channels vary from each device but the majority tend to have a plethora of big names like Netflix, Lovefilm, HULU, BBC iPlayer, 4oD and ITV Player

The Roku Player is currently one of the more popular streaming players as it has huge database of programs, channels and apps. Other devices include  Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and the WD TV .

Laptop or Computer Connection

HDMI computer

The crudest but most easily available option is a simple link from your laptop or computer to a TV. Internet enabled computers have access to the largest variety of content, so linking it to the TV gives you a huge choice of media right at your fingertips; even if it is a little cumbersome.

The best way to link a TV with a laptop or computer is via a HDMI cable as it will carry both the audio and video signals digitally down one cable. If you don’t have a HDMI connection, it’s also possible to link via VGA and audio cable combination.

Games Consoles and Smart Players

The last generation of games consoles arguably began the media streaming revolution. Both the Xbox 360 and PS3 could stream online programmes direct to your TV. The next generation (PS4 and XboxOne) can also connect your TV to the web. Consoles work in a similar way to streaming players with built-in apps and set channels for each manufacturer. Connect them via HDMI for best results.

SMART DVD and Blu-Ray players often use the exact same display format as their counterparts, the SMART TVs, so can be a cheaper option than buying a brand new SMART TV. It’s also worth noting these players can have three devices rolled into one: SMART TV, DVD/Blu-Ray and Media Player.

TV Dongle and Android TVdongle tv

TV Dongles work like a mini version of a streaming player. They plug directly into your TV and are usually powered via USB or HDMI. The advantage of a dongle is that everything you need is onboard: power, HDMI/USB and internet connection. This makes them super compact; usually the size of a flash drive. Google’s ChromeCast is currently the most popular dongle format.

Android TV is a little different to a TV dongle as it actually runs a version of the Android Mobile operating system on your TV. It basically makes your TV look like a giant tablet, which means you can theoretically use any app you can get on an Android device on your Android TV. You can install various official and third-party apps, ranging from Netflix to Hulu to Youtube, as well as games, music and social software.smart tvs

Take a look at our rundown of the best media streaming devices or view the selection of check out our helpful SMART TV buying guide.

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Danny Young

Features Editor

54 comments

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  1. Danny Young 17 January, 2014 at 14:41

    Hi John. No official release date for the Chromecast in the UK as of yet… We just know it is coming. You can buy the import version from the USA but it will cost more the $35 the americans pay, due to demand & p&p… Worth noting the US version will come with the international apps like Netflix/Hulu/LoveFilm but not all the British catchup services like 4OD & ItvPlayer etc… these will come with the UK version.

  2. martyn downs 17 January, 2014 at 19:46

    It was on Amazon UK Briefly, they sent an email offering a refund if I returned it unopened a few days after it had arrived, but it was already out of the box so meh.

    It was pre-loaded with the updated firmware so the root exploit wouldn’t work either :(..

  3. Saddam Hossain 17 January, 2014 at 23:29

    Hi John and Danny! Google Chromecast have been here in the UK for a while. Not officially but through Amazon UK and now on eBay. Amazon USA had a glitch in their global shipping and people could buy it. Later they stopped. I ordered one and got it delivered it in the UK. If would like one from and within UK check this post Chromecast in the UK. The listing has more quantity available by the time I’m posting.

  4. stevie gillett 23 July, 2014 at 10:13

    Why wait for chromecast. in the UK ,if size dont matter. .From a .very happy roku user and have been for sometime!

  5. Arafath 9 September, 2014 at 14:56

    @ Helen Mcdonald, I think you are asking about Android dongles, So answer is NO.

    This dongles can be controlled by an Android phone however you no need a phone, a wireless mouse or an Air mouse is enough to operate.

  6. Simon 17 September, 2014 at 10:04

    No one mentions the Raspberry Pi solution, these Linux Media Centre’s are a great improvement on the Android boxes that are currently available

  7. Dimwit 20 November, 2014 at 19:52

    Errm some of the posts here seem to suggest that you are stuck with the services that are installed when you get the device. Is this right ? If you can’t add new services as they become available then the Raspberry Pi is definitely the way to go because you will always be able to download (or build) a new version of the software.

  8. Craig 21 November, 2014 at 14:34

    Err raspberry pi, openelec and your tv remote will more than likely work. Well it does on all 3 of mine including the Furion 19″ in the bedroom curtsey of ebuyer.

  9. cyberbry 23 November, 2014 at 21:49

    Hi folks Im the exact opposite of a computer geek and my daughters asking for the best device to turn her normal telly into a smart telly help anyone.

  10. Jerry 12 December, 2014 at 16:08

    Enjoyed your explanation.

    Will any wireless dongle fit any tv with a USB connection? My future son-in-law has a Sony Bravia kdl 40w 5500 and I’d like to buy him a dongle.

  11. Dr Sharma 27 December, 2014 at 20:40

    My Digihome 32″ smart TV is with Dongle and I can connect my Internet. On the panel when I click onto google for search I can get the list but when I open the local radio the radio page appears as usual like on tablet but it doesn’t play the radio stream neither I can download any thing. What is wrong either the Dongle is weak or what?
    My second question is …Can I attached my PC portable USB webcam onto my LG TV 55″ 730V module for Skype or I need a special webcam. Your advice is very important. Regards and Hearty New years Greetings to you and to your Love ones.
    Dr Sharma UK

  12. Anonymous 28 December, 2014 at 10:14

    Hi, can you tell me if you need a dongle for every smart tv or if having a wifi box sufficient. am living in ireland and thinking of getting a smart tv

  13. jay 7 January, 2015 at 20:59

    Hi. Id like to mirror either my galaxy s 2 or my galaxy tab 3 7″ to my tv which isn’t a smart tv. Is this possible ? I bought a mhl connector but couldn’t get it to work. Please help. Thanks , jay .

  14. Peter 28 January, 2015 at 14:49

    Hi Just like to add my situation to the Smart TV story. I have a 50″ LG tv with no smart ability,not even a usb slot for photo slideshow viewing. I purchased a Samsung BD-F6500 Smart 3D Blu-ray Player & it gives me options to play CD/DVD/BLU-RAY/USB “to show Movies,Photo’s,Music” generally any multimedia files.The real bonus is it wirelessly connected to my Virgin 152mb Internet, no effort at all,thus giving me access to Internet on my LG tv.
    With this I can stream straight from my PC to tv, or go anywhere on the net. The best thing I purchased in years.Anyone wanting to buy one of these, there is just one thing to be carefull of. There are 2 models, the one I purchased “Samsung BD-F6500 Smart 3D Blu-ray Player” & another the model i forget,but it’s a little cheaper looks identical but not Smart. Hope this helps someone.

  15. Marcia 28 January, 2015 at 18:28

    Got new smat toshiba tv with wifi but I cannot connect to Internet I set it all up great but as soon as I go back to tv I lose it I have to set it up again please can you help

  16. Marcia 28 January, 2015 at 19:56

    Just got toshiba smat dvd tv 32in can’t get internet to stay set it up go back to tv go back to Internet is gone got to set it up again can enyone help

  17. t collins 26 February, 2015 at 21:14

    will the chromecast allow me to wirelessly connect my laptop to use my tv as an external or extended screen

  18. Anonymous 22 May, 2015 at 17:15

    Can’t I use my phone to make my TV a smart TV? And use its hotspot?? I have a zte zmax.

  19. Varuna 29 May, 2015 at 20:12

    I do recommend Amazon TV (even more than the Amazon stick) ! Plex is fab. Especially if ur a bit wise and get a nifty little program called NaviX installed almost limitless movies etc 🙂 happy watching!

  20. Anonymous 26 October, 2015 at 08:14

    how do you connect the walker box (android tv) to your tv I used a hdmi cable and a power source but it still isn’t working

  21. Dave 13 December, 2015 at 11:07

    Hi
    i am looking for a device that can turn my tv into a smart one and i want to connect my pc to my tv screen via this same device.
    does any device exist for this both demand? what is the best one to buy ?

    Cheers

  22. Jahir 24 December, 2015 at 07:29

    Hi,

    i have led hd samsund tv 32”(joy) non-smart tv, so how can i use internet in my tv as like a smart tv, is that any way to get this option.
    Pls replay anybody———-

  23. Dan 20 January, 2016 at 18:13

    I’m looking for a DVD player with smart TV functions built in such as BBC iplayer so that I can just have on box for watching DVDs and catchup to or possibly recording tv.

    Any thoughts

  24. davidmax999 16 February, 2016 at 09:02

    I have been looking for a device which helps me to watch countless TV channels. Recently i get an offered from “pigflytech” to try their “Android TV Box” to take a new viewing experience. It says that – this device will allow me to watch lots of TV channels without asking any service charge.
    It mentions that , this device has the capacity to connect my TV with internet so i can get the access in online for more flexibility.

    So i have already decided to collect this smart TV box for my TV to get the real taste of entertainment.

  25. Anonymous 16 February, 2016 at 20:19

    I have raspberry pi 2 was working great getting all the latest films etc
    Bought new Sony tv now I can not get my RP to work
    Can any one help
    I

  26. Sue 3 March, 2016 at 12:22

    I have a 55 inch LG TV, I would like to turn it into a smart TV. What Device can I use. I also have a wifi modem

  27. Jonathan 23 March, 2016 at 03:42

    I know apsolutly nothing about dongal android smart t.v. but I just got a new 43inc baird t.v and I got phone galaxy A3 how can I make my t.v. work my phone and mirror screen my t.v.

  28. John 24 March, 2016 at 02:25

    Can you tell me what’s available to get WiFi into my house, I don’t have a computer is there a device I can buy that will give me WiFi through plugging in to my HDMI port on the back off TV or whatever is similar. Thanks

  29. Anonymous 1 May, 2016 at 23:36

    I was wondering if you could help me? I have a 46” T.V. about a year to two years old and I bought a smart T.V. Box for getting more channels but so far it’s not working what do I do?

  30. Harriet 4 May, 2016 at 09:56

    I have tried plugging a dongle into my tv but I’ve not had any joy, I know the dongle works as it is from my daughter’s tv and works fine with hers, do I need to get a dongle specifically made for my brand/make/model tv or can I use a generic branded one?

  31. A. K. GOEL 24 June, 2016 at 19:00

    I have a 42″ TV which have USB pen drive port. I play pendrive in which movies are recorded by using USB PORT of my TV. The pendrive with recorded movies are played by my TV and I can watch movies on my
    TV. The problem is that some movies are played well but some movies are not played
    well. Either sound is not supported or video is not supported. It is because my TV can play the movie which
    are recorded on a certain format and other movies which are not played , are recorded on some other format.
    I think it is a format problem. Can I play my pendrive, on which the movies are recorded on different formats,
    with the help of this dongle and this dongle may play my pendrive without any format problem. In other words
    can I play my pendrive, recorded with movies having different formates, with the help of this dongle and I can
    watch movies with any format problem.

  32. Siskris 26 July, 2016 at 14:55

    The blog writer must be on holiday for this old posting to be recycled.
    I got a really good bargain from ebuyer a couple of weeks ago – an Intel PC stick and now my TV has graduated with first class honours.

  33. margaret gibson 30 July, 2016 at 13:53

    Bought a look smart box but having trouble setting it up I been at it weeks now I migh just give it VB up the information in it doesn’t tel me much how can I star again can anybody please help me

  34. Paul 13 August, 2016 at 21:00

    Hi, I have coaxial cable coming into my home and I have a dumb TV, with cable TV. I like to purchase a Blue-Ray device to turn my TV into a smart TV, but do these Blue-Ray devices include streaming? Can I connect these devices with coaxial cable, or do I need to use Ethernet cat-5 cable?

  35. Pirate! 31 August, 2016 at 15:55

    If you have a Smart TV with an Ethernet socket and you want to connect a Wi-Fi dongle to enable internet access and maybe for firmware/software updates for your TV, all you need is an RJ45 adapter which is a male Ethernet connector with a female USB connect to which you connect your Wi-Fi dongle. You can buy the adapter for 69p (delivered) from http://www.miniinthebox.com though it may be cheaper on a well known auction website, though do a web search for the adapter model type and review the results.

    Hope that helps.

  36. Anonymous 7 September, 2016 at 00:04

    I just purchased 48′ hisense smart TV it has built in WiFi do I Need to buy WiFi bundle or WiFi router to it to be active or what do I do

  37. rachel 17 October, 2016 at 10:12

    i have a dumb sony tv the huge kind they used to call “flatscreen” then plasma came out im paying ridiculous amounts on virgin but love my movies and netflix which i get thru my tivo box i cant seem to get a straight answer but is there ne way of me purchasing a amazon is it kudi or something without having to buy a new tv im on benefits and really cant afford a new tele when my dumb 1 works perfect grrrr plz help im very frustrated

  38. doh! 22 November, 2016 at 15:23

    @ selene
    why yes. A World War 2 Bakelite phone will do for Amazon Prime Video, for instance, and a nineteen seventies trillphone will be okay for Netflix…….

    …….GOOOOOGLE!!!!

  39. Paul 24 December, 2016 at 19:21

    I have taken the cardboard box which my sons bicycle was delivered and cut a rectangular hole in the middle. My wife sits the other side and reads from the newspaper when I want to see the news or weather. What is the best brand of dongle to turn this into a smart TV.

  40. Derek Winder 31 January, 2017 at 19:07

    hi,can i use a dongle on my smart tv? its a new hitachi 50in.it has smartvue on it which is absolute rubbish.I have heard of a vessey dongle,would you recommend it or something else? do i even need to get a dongle as i do have a new android fully loaded kodi box.Thank you for any advice

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