How To Turn Your TV Into A SMART TV
Smart TVs, eh? 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 and making sure you get your fix of Star Trek (or whatever)!
‘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.
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.
Laptop or Computer Connection
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. 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 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.