Note: This is a guest post written by Michael Wanjiru – Is it a must you have an LG or Samsung Smart TV to stream YouTube or movies online? Nooo! In this post, I’ve covered some cool ways how to turn an old TV into a smart TV for free or at a minimal cost.
A ready-made smart TV often has far superior features and specs than the older regular TVs. One of these features is a wide display that brings you a cinematic experience, with more realistic images of the characters.
However, some people were lucky to have large-screen TVs in the early 2010s before Smart TVs became more accessible. Others even had the large digital TVs from the mid-late 2000s, which still offered a great view.
If you have such an older TV that still works fine, don’t be left behind with the boring traditional cable. Read on ten hacks to turn the television into a smart TV that can connect to the internet and enjoy the best entertainment.
Tope 5 Cheapest Ways to Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV
- Get a cheap Amazon Fire TV Stick
- Use your Sony, LG, or Panasonic Blu-Ray player
- Connect the TV with your old PlayStation or Xbox
- Plug an Ethernet cable to your existing Set-top box
- Borror the Shield TV device of your gamer son
Is it Worth it to Turn My Old TV into a Smart TV?
Yes, it’s definitely worth it to turn an old TV into a smart TV. The various advantages you get to enjoy include:
|Latest Smart TVs
|Older Regular TVs
|Updatable Operating System
|Built-in Internet Connectivity
|Mobile Remote Control
|Built-in Bluetooth Function
|Built-in Web Browser
|Analog RCA Outputs
|Built-in USB Ports
· Real-time Entertainment:
One of the best benefits of a smart TV is that you can enjoy real-time entertainment. Some examples include live shows, podcasts, sports, video gaming, and radio.
· Free movies and music:
If you have a smart TV, you never have to pay expensive subscriptions to watch movies or music. The TV has apps and web browsers you can use to open and play the latest movies and your favorite music free of charge.
· Connect on social platforms:
If you can turn your old TV into a smart TV, it’s also become possible to connect on social media platforms, like Facebook. Thus, connecting you with your existing friends and making new ones.
· Search with Ease:
Smart TVs have a built-in voice assistant, making it easier to search programs and other items than when using a normal remote. You can also download a mobile app remote, which is also faster to type when searching for items.
· Chat with your TV:
The voice assistant you get with a smart TV is also a nice feature to chat with when bored. You can ask her questions on various topics of people, places, weather, history, technology, etc.
· Party Wirelessly:
You can pair a smart TV to your Bluetooth speaker for a tangle-free listening experience. It also allows you to use headphones if you don’t want to disturb those around you.
· Video chat in real-time:
A smart TV also lets you video chat with your friends and business associates on a wider display. But you’ll need to attach an external HD camera for video chatting if your TV doesn’t have a built-in cam.
· Watch your phone on a wider display:
If you have a smart TV, it’s also easy to mirror your phone on a wider display. Thus, making it possible to immerse in the moments captured on your phone and play mobile games on an expansive display.
· Build a Smart Home ecosystem:
Last but not least, turning your old dumb TV into a smart TV can help complete your own smart home ecosystem. You can use the TV to view your security cameras wirelessly.
How to Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV
First, a smart TV is a television box that offers both traditional features and modern capabilities, like internet connectivity. It has a core system comprising an operating system and built-in storage to support these features.
To turn your old normal television into a smart TV, the trick is to give it this core system. And this is something we should do with a “smart” streaming device.
Don’t worry, you necessarily don’t have to purchase anything. Some of the capable streaming devices are something you may have sitting idly around the house somewhere. See below:
Method 1: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is the first hack you can use to turn your old TV into a smart TV. It’s a hack I’ve been using for a while now.
Besides low pricing, a Fire TV Stick is so easy to use. I mean, you just need to power the streaming media player. Then, connect it to the HDMI port of your old TV.
Once you’ve set up the Fire TV Stick, you can watch YouTube, Amazon Prime, Twitch, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, et cetera. It also has access to music platforms like Spotify and apps for local radio.
Moreover, Amazon Fire TV Stick has some lovely games like Asphalt, RED Ball, Hill Climb, Hungry Shark, and others. It also has a built-in Alexa voice assistant that you can operate with the provided remote. Then, you can also download a remote app to your phone/ tablet.
Tip: Amazon has a Fire TV Cube that brings you a better streaming experience, with full-scale voice control. The cube also offers a richer video quality and an option of wired internet connectivity via Ethernet.
Method 2: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast is another streaming device you can attach to your dumb television and turn it into a smart TV. It actually comes with built-in Google TV you can watch YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc.
When using Chromecast with your old TV set, you can access thousands of apps directly from Playstore. It also has Google Assistant to help search for items more quickly and operate your smart home devices.
Method 3: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with Apple TV
Apple TV is possibly the most sought-after streaming device in the market today. While it’s a bit pricey to own, the device is so intuitive to use.
One of the reasons many people like the Apple TV box is that you stream apps from an iPhone to your old TV. It also offers the option to access streaming services like Apple TV+, YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and others.
Similar to the Fire TV Stick and Chromecast, the Apple TV box has a built-in virtual assistant- Siri. The voice assistant helps you interact with your TV to enhance searches and control apps.
Method 4: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with a PlayStation Console
Did you think your old PlayStation console was just for gaming? Many do know you can play games and watch DVD movies on a PlayStation. However, a lot more don’t know you can use the gaming console to turn an Old TV into a smart TV.
Thanks to the built-in internet connectivity, a PlayStation can also serve as a streaming box. It’s even better than the Fire TV stick, Chromecast, and Apple TV in storage capacity. Thus, you can install more apps for games and watch movies/ TV shows on Netflix, Youtube, Disney+, HBO Max, Prime Video, et cetera.
I have only been able to confirm PS3 for streaming capabilities with a normal TV. But I’m sure the later gaming consoles, PS4 and PS6, also support these functions.
Method 5: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with an Xbox Console
If a Microsoft fanatic, you can also use an Xbox to turn your old TV into a smart TV. The game console also has more storage than Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick. Thus, allowing you to add more apps for gaming and streaming services.
The various streaming services you can access on your TV with an Xbox are Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, HBO Max, ESPN, etc.
Method 6: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with a Blu-ray Player
Indeed, some latest Blu-ray players now come with built-in internet connectivity. So, you can hook up one of these players to your old television to use it as a smart TV.
Perfect examples of smart Blu-ray players you can use to “smarten” your dumb TV are from LG, Panasonic, Phillips, and Sony. In addition to DVD, these players let you watch content on streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, et cetera.
So, recheck your Blu-ray player when you get home. It could be a smart streaming device and you didn’t know.
Method 7: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with a Set-top Box
Have you been watching your old TV on cable service with a Set-top Box? I’d also recommend you check it out as it could be one of the smart IP Set-top boxes with internet access.
If your set-top box can get online, it can also download various apps for streaming movies and TV shows. However, make sure you understand the storage usage of the device before using it to build your smart TV.
Method 8: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with an NVIDIA Shield TV
NVIDIA Shield TV is yet another streaming media player you can turn your old TV into a smart TV. The device was primarily for gamers looking to play Android games on their TV or use cloud gaming service.
However, the Shield TV offers a super-sharp video resolution, courtesy of the AI upscaling feature. People started going for it to use with other streaming services like Live Sports, YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV Stan, Disney+, etc.
The best part, Shield TV has built-in Google Assistant to help enhance your search experience.
Method 9: Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV with Portal TV
Do you video call for business a lot? Meta Porta TV is a streaming device that the engineers primarily innovated for users to connect via video calling. It has a built-in High-Definition camera to facilitate this.
But as a multipurpose device, the Portal TV also supports streaming services from various platforms. Some include Facebook Watch, Netflix, ESPN, Prime Video, Hulu, Paramount+, AppleTV+, Disney+, et cetera.
Other Alternative Ways How to Turn Your Old TV into a Smart TV
Besides the nine options, you can also turn your old TV into a smart TV with an Android box. However, I didn’t cover Android boxes as many users have expressed discontent with the devices from poor performance and malware problems.
Like other streaming devices, though, an Android box gives you access to thousands of apps for online gaming and streaming. Some include Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney+, Spotify, et cetera.
Android boxes may have voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to enhance your streaming experience. Some of the best-rated Android boxes with such features include:
- ONN Android box
- Turewell T9 box
- MINIX NEO U9-H
- Mecool MK9 Pro
- Ematic Jetstream
Common Related Questions
Can I watch YouTube with my old TV?
Yes, you can watch YouTube with your old TV for free. All needed is to connect a streaming media device to the video input of your television. Then, complete the initial setup with WiFi or Ethernet internet and download the YouTube app (if not preinstalled).
Is a TiVo Stream Streaming device worth it?
TiVo Stream is another device you can use to turn your old dumb TV into a smart TV you can stream online. It also has a built-in Google Assistant to help in faster searching and control.
TiVo Stream is also very cheap, something that had many think it’s an Amazon Fire TV Stick killer. However, the streaming device has a tricky setup process that seems to only accept US addresses. Hence, the reason I’ve left it out of my list.
Is there a monthly fee to use an Amazon Fire TV stick?
No, there’s no renewable cost to use Amazon Fire TV Stick with your TV. The fee you can pay is for the streaming services you’re using for entertainment. But even then, there is YouTube and many free apps for watching music, movies, TV, and sports.
Can I use an Amazon Fire TV stick with a Samsung Smart TV?
Yes, you can use Amazon Fire TV Stick with your Samsung smart TV. The streaming media device is often better than store-bought smart TVs, as it gets more frequent firmware updates. Then, its compact device means you can easily carry it in a pocket. Thus, allowing you to catch up with all your favorite programs while even traveling.
How many apps can I install into my old TV with a streaming device?
Overall, the apps and files you can have on your TV depend on the storage capacity of the streaming device.
For instance, Google Chromecast has a smaller storage space than Amazon Fire TV Stick and Apple TV devices.
However, PlayStation, Xbox, and smart Blu-ray players have the best storage capacity. The various devices have an option to expand as desired- with up to 1TB of space.