Ever wished that you could lean back on your living room couch and watch YouTube videos, movie or Internet on your HD TV? Today I will tell you everything about Smart TVs. What is a Smart TV, what are the benefits of having it, how to convert normal TV into Smart TV and most Importantly, Are Smart TVs worth it?
Are Smart TVs worth it?
Well to get to the final answer of this question, we need to go through different aspects. That’s exactly what I am doing in this post today. Just sit back and go through this article. I am sure you’ll also be able to give a final verdict like me. So let’s get started with basics.
What is a Smart TV?
A Smart TV is just like a normal flat panel TV with some tricks up its sleeve. In addition to being a normal TV hanging around in your living room and taking up space, a Smart TV lets you surf the web, Watch Internet TV channels, check Facebook, watch YouTube videos and many more things. In a nutshell, A Smart TV is your Normal LED TV with a small computer embedded inside to do all the processing. Basically Smart TV has different apps just like in your iPhone or Android phone.
Smart TVs come in all different brands, sizes and resolutions. For Example Samsung Smart TV offer proprietary software with AllShare app which works as a dlna streaming solution. You can stream Movies, TV Shows, Pictures or music from your computer or mobile phone to your Smart TV.
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What are the benefits of having a Smart TV?
Smart TVs are really expensive appliances and what good if they don’t provide any benefit to the user? These are the top 3 benefits rather I should say reasons to buy a Smart TV over a regular TV.
- All the Smart TVs provide you option to stream any live tv channel right from the internet using services like IPTV and Video On Demand. If you don’t know about IPTV then basically it is a subscription based service where you can watch thousands of live TV Channels on your Smart TV via Internet. It really is a cord-cutting solution for Live HD TV.
- Apps are another reason that you should consider buying a smart TV instead of regular one. With apps you can watch Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Check Twitter feeds or anything else like Video Calling right from your TV. I wouldn’t think twice to say that Apps are the biggest benefit of a Smart TV.
- Watch Movies and TV shows from your local media server. If you have a media server setup with all of your movies and TV shows collection then you can simply use something like Kodi on your Smart TV and enjoy all of that content.
Most of the Smart TVs don’t come with a really powerful hardware which makes them very limited in their performance. Sure, there are many Smart TVs that allow you to stream up to 4k video content but unfortunately those Smart TVs are really expensive. So that was some pros and cons of smart tv.
What if you already have a HD TV, which everyone has nowadays, and you want to convert it into a Smart TV?
Below I have mentioned a couple of options that you can use to convert your regular TV into a Smart TV for cheap.
How to convert regular TV into Smart TV?
Before I tell you my top picks to convert regular TV into a Smart TV, you need to check if it is really worth it to convert your regular TV into a Smart TV. Although I have tried to mention the cheapest possible solutions below but still there are some points that you should keep in mind beforehand.
- I would recommend you to buy a Smart TV with built in internet and streaming options if you already plan to buy a new TV in near future. Because it is not a good idea to buy a smart device for a TV that will be replaced with a smart TV anyway.
- Streaming content from internet to your Smart TV can really suck a lot of internet bandwidth quickly. If you don’t have a high speed Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection then I would recommend that you should get atleast a high speed ADSL2 connection because you will need it.
- If you want completely seamless solution then you should opt for a Smart TV instead of these devices. Even if some of the devices plug directly into the back of your TV, the experience is not really seamless, More on that in a bit.
Best affordable Full HD Smart TVs
Here I have compiled list of Smart TVs that really provide good experience without breaking the bank. All the TVs that we tested were in 40-43 inch size but they come in different sizes, just go to the sales page and choose your desired size.
First up is the E40-C2 from Vizio. If you are looking for a smart tv that isn’t super expensive and you also don’t want a really tiny TV, then Vizio E40-C2 should be a good option for you.
Sure you wouldn’t find it super fast and you will also not able to install many apps, but if all you need is streaming services like Netflix and Hulu then this TV will be good to get the job done. It has a beautiful 40-inch 1080p LED display with great viewing angles and deeper blacks.
You may haven’t heard of company called TCL but we couldn’t pass up the features of their Smart TV line up. Starting at only $299 on Amazon for 43-inch 1080p smart led tv with Roku functionality built in, you can’t really pass this deal.
The reason why I am including this TV in this list is the Roku TV feature. With 43FP110, you can watch almost all of your movies, sports and TV shows without worrying about the availability.
The chinese brand Hisense is on the rise after years of making LCD panels for the competitors. The 40H4C from hisense also has Roku goodness baked right in. If you are still wondering about Hisense, just know that it makes sense to pick this 40 inch 1080p performer for only $249 on amazon.
Just like in TCL 43FP110, this tv also has Roku technology in it. So you can buy this Smart TV with the peace of mind that your favorite content will be available on it.
Just in case if you don’t like the Smart TV recommendations then here is a list of all the Smart TV that you can choose from depending on the price, size, brand and everything else.
Did you able to reach a final word over the question: Are Smart TVs worth it? OR you’re still confused about it? Either way keep on reading the last part of this post.
How to convert Regular TV into Smart TV
Okay, so you have decided not to buy a Smart TV and convert your existing regular TV into a Smart TV which is a lot cheaper obviously but isn’t really a plug n play solution. Below are the devices that can really make your current TV setup a Smart TV.
Unless you are trying to make your traditional CRT TV a smart tv, which probably isn’t the case, chromecast is the simplest solution for your smart tv needs but it is unfortunately isn’t one-size-fits-all. With chromecast you can stream content from your smartphone, tablet or Computer via Wi-Fi.
With chromecast, Google has made the experience very much straightforward. Take chromecast out of the box, plug it on back of your TV via HDMI port, sekect the source and you are good to go.
Once you are through the startup screen, all you have to make sure is that your source device and chromecast is on same WiFi network and that’s it. Open any chromecast supported app in your smartphone and cast the content to your smart tv.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick is another cheap yet effective option. Unlike chromecast, which requires smartphone or computer to operate, amazon firestick is a full fledged computer inside enclosure of an Hdmi dongle. It doesn’t require any device other than your tv and remote which comes bundled with it.
The process of setting up fire tv stick is fairly similar to chromecast. Connect the firestick with your tv via hdmi port and set it up via the remote control.
Amazon Firestick runs amazon’s operating system for fire tv on top of Android. Just because firestick runs on android, you can sideload any apk file in it and really do anything an android device is capable of doing.
You can even install Kodi in Amazon Firestick without PC.
Coming up next in the list is the Roku 4 set top box. This device is not an Hdmi dongle, but a box which also does 4K. Yeah, there isn’t much 4K content available but there is some. You can watch some shows on Netflix on 4K, youtube also provides 4K videos and Amazon Prime also provides 4K content.
Roku 4 is for someone who really want to step their tv game up. Roku 4 is one of the most expensive devices in this list, at $130, which makes it recommended not for everyone.
If you are thinking why should you buy roku 4 when Amazon fire stick can do almost same thing? Well firestick isn’t as powerful as the roku 4 and firestick cant do intensive 3D gaming and 4K decoding.
You can connect Roku 4 via hdmi with your tv, attach roku 4 with the network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and enjoy the content on your big tv.
If you are using iPhone and you are used to how Apple handles their eco-system then latest Apple TV could be a really awesome addition to your multimedia setup. If you have most of your movies and media in iTunes then Apple TV can make your life a lot easier.
Latest generation of Apple TV box is available for $149 which is quite expensive but if you buy previous generation Apple TV box, which is still a really good tv box, it will only cost you around $69.
The setup shouldn’t be difficult for you if you are an Apple guy. Apple TV box connects with your TV via Hdmi cable and you can connect with Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Once you turn Apple TV ON, it will walk you through the setup process and your Apple TV will be good to go.
MXQ Pro Box
Lastly MXQ is a android box from china which is cheap and affordable way of getting Android on your TV. Just in case you want to convert traditional tv, which doesn’t have Hdmi port, into a Smart TV then MXQ box is really what you need. It has an option to output video and audio signal via AV which is great for every TV.
There are many versions of this box available online and you really have to go with the MXQ Pro. This box has 2GB of RAM and an 64-bit Quad-Core chipset which supports 4K. This box starts somewhere around $35 on Amazon.
Just look for a seller that has good reviews and buy this box from them. At a price this low, this box is a steal.
Now you may ask, Okay Steve, I get it but are Smart TVs worth it?
I would say Yes! Smart TVs are worth it but that is because I am a geek head, who likes to watch a lot of movies and TV shows. If you just want to watch movies on your tv and sometimes browse the web then you should be probably good with HDMI dongle like the Amazon fire stick or a set top box like the MXQ Pro.
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