Although smart TVs are now cheap, a lot of us find it hard to part with the regular TVs we invested on in past years. As of today, you could pick up a 40-inch Smart TV for as cheap as $350 on sites like Amazon. That’s how cheap they’ve become. However, if you’re still clinging to your old school television set, there are several options when it comes to converting it to a ‘smart TV.’
Well, not really a smart TV, but something very close. If you’re already considering buying a brand new smart TV just to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime, here are the best solutions to keep using your existing TV while getting most of the features of a smart TV.
Get a PS4 or Xbox One console
Consoles are no longer just gadgets to play video games. Over the years, they’ve become a great home entertainment gadget with lots of ‘smart’ features added. These days, turning on your game console doesn’t necessarily mean you want to play a game, you might just want to watch a movie.
With the PlayStation Store even selling movies, there’s so much more you can do with your console. Apps like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu are all available to download from the PlayStation Store. Xbox One also offers these features and you can’t go wrong going with either of these choices.
Personally, I use the PlayStation 4 and I do recommend it. With a game console connected to your dumb TV through HDMI, you get almost all the basic features of a Smart. You’re connected to the Internet and you’re able to install apps. The only feature you would be missing is screen mirroring.
Get an Android TV Box
If you have an Android phone already, you might want to consider getting an Android TV box that supports screen mirroring. Before going to the market and picking up just any Android TV box, you might want to be sure of what the features are.
I have a cheap Android TV box from last year that still works. While I have access to the Play Store and I’m able to install apps, screen mirroring is missing. If you’re planning to get an Android TV box that fully transforms your regular TV to a smart TV, you might want to consider Mi Box from Xiaomi.
With an Android TV, you get all the features of a smart TV without necessarily investing in a smart TV.
Get an Apple
Apple TV is more or less like an Android TV, but it works better for people already in Apple’s closed ecosystem. I got one recently and it became my preferred stream device. You can read the full review here.
tvOS has loads of apps available, you can as well install games. It gets even better if you’re able to link your cable TV subscription to your Apple TV. Whether you’re trying to mirror your Mac, iPhone, or iPod to your TV, Apple TV does it just fine through AirPlay.
I would recommend it over an Android TV box if you’re already in Apple’s ecosystem.
This is another solution I tried out. While Chromecast works great for what it’s meant for, it has its shortcomings compared with the solutions mentioned above. It relies on your phone. Your smartphone initiates the whole streaming and casting process. Also, I haven’t been able to cast local movies using Chromecast.
However, if your primary need is to cast online content from your phone to your TV, this is the cheapest way to go about it. Want to watch YouTube or Netflix on your TV using your phone? You can’t go wrong with Chomecast at only $39.
What’s my recommendation?
I’ve owned each one of these gadgets mentioned above and honestly, I would recommend an Android TV box. Not the regular ones running basic Android OS, but options like Amazon Fire TV or Nvidia Shield TV. If you basically use Apple devices, then you should definitely consider an Apple TV.