02 Aug 2019
Not too long ago we didn’t expect all that much from our TVs – just switch it on in time to catch the evening news or a soap. Advances in technology and the trend for ‘smart’ devices came for our TVs too, turning them from simple image-transmitting devices to internet-enabled hubs. A lot of newer TVs are ‘smart’ by default. Many people are happy with their old TVs but would still like to benefit from features like movie streaming, internet browsing, and more. Thankfully, it’s not hard to turn a TV into a smart TV. Find out how with Hoppy’s guide below.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
This small device plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, using your WI-FI to access services, and comes integrated with Amazon’s Alexa. This means that the voice search capability is quite advanced, making browsing and other commands easy to execute with voice alone. The Fire TV Stick will let you access Spotify and Apple Music while Amazon Prime member can watch all the exclusive shows available on the platform – there are recent hits like Good Omens and Mr Robot alongside classics like Parks and Recreation and The Wire. The device also comes with a remote that you can use to pause, rewind, and select things to watch.
If you’d like to turn your TV into a smart TV with the Amazon Fire TV Stick it’ll set you back £39.99 though Amazon often run promotions and sales, so you can snag it for even less.
From the people at Google comes Chromecast – a simple solution to turn your TV from dumb to smart. It was released back in 2014 and was the first device of its kind on the market to transform regular TVs with capabilities that go beyond HD and digital channels. Chromecast is easy to set up – just plug the device into your TV’s HDMI port and use your phone or computer, through the Google Home app, to navigate the app, eliminating the need for a separate remote. With Chromecast you can access all the streaming apps including Now TV, Netlix, and iPlayer. It also allows you to display web browsers from your phone on the TV screen, plus photos and videos stored on your phone.
The most recent version of Chromecast costs £30 while owners of 4K TVs should consider the pricier Chromecast Ultra, costing £69.99, as it’s set up to support modern TVs.
Lovers of iPhones, Macs, and iPads now have another Apple-designed product to add to the collection – Apple TV. Unlike Amazon Fire Stick and Chromecast, the Apple TV device is a small box that connects to your TV through the HDMI port. You’ll be prompted to enter your iCloud account details after which you can use the device to stream any video or music content from iTunes as well as downloads from the Apple Store, plus use all the streaming apps. Apple TV is controlled through the slim remote that comes in the package, it’s equipped with Siri so you can use your voice to navigate.
Turning your TV into a smart TV with Apple will cost you – the latest model is £149 while a 4K-ready one is £179.
Now TV Smart Stick and Passes
Now TV has a Smart Stick that works in the same way as the competitors above. It costs £45.99 for the box itself or £49.99 for the box and four 1-month passes – Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids, and a Sky Sports Day Pass.
Now TV passes are a novel solution to turning TVs smart. There are loads of options on offer to choose from. The Entertainment Pass gives you access to 11 channels not available on Freeview, including Comedy Central and Sky Atlantic alongside some great boxsets. It costs £7.99 monthly after the initial 14-day trial period. The Sky Cinema Pass is perfect for movie lovers, granting access to over 1,000 movies for £9.99 while the Kids Pass will keep younger members of the family occupied for just £3.99 per month. Each pass has a 14-day free trial period and there are no hidden cancellation fees. Now Passes really shine when it comes to sports as sports packages tend to be some of the priciest. You can get a one-day Sky Sports Pass for £7.99 if you’re only after watching a day of sports while a month’s pass will set you back £33.99. This way you only pay for the games you want to watch, saving on the ones you’re not interested in.
Roku TV Streaming Stick
Roku positions itself as the more affordable alternative to the devices mentioned above. It combines streaming apps like NOW TV, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video in one convenient place. Simply plug it into your TV’s HD port and get immediate access, via WI-FI, to free channels like iPlayer and YouTube as well as music streaming and subscription services. You’ll also be able to rent shows from the Sky Store and cast content from your phone to the screen of your TV. The device is controlled via a remote and its own app.
The basic Roku Express costs £29.99 while the Roku Express, which supports 4K and works well with TVs located further from routers, is £79.99.
If you own a games console like an Xbox 360 or PS4 then you can use its ability to connect to the internet to stream different players and apps, though not all streaming services will be available through a console.
You can also use an HDMI cable to connect your laptop, computer, phone, or tablet directly to your TV as long as the device supports that feature. Again, you might find yourself limited in the range of streaming services you can access as NOW TV, for example, doesn’t let customers connect iPads directly to a TV in order to watch boxsets.
Turning your TV from dumb to smart is easy – decide on a budget and pick from one of the devices above or get an HDMI cable to connect one of your existing devices.