Making sure you’re not left behind by technological advances can be hard, especially when it comes to home entertainment.
Smart TVs, in particular, have been on the rise, but they can be very pricey.
So how can you turn your normal TV into a smart TV for cheap?
First things first, let’s define what a smart TV is!
A smart TV is a TV that has the same capabilities as any smart device – such as your phone, tablet, or laptop.
This means it can connect to the internet, has an operating system, and can access online media, such as streaming applications like Netflix.
Because a smart TV has all of these features, it doesn’t need any external devices plugged into it.
All a smart TV needs is a strong WiFi connection (or an Ethernet connection), and it can be a modern TV with all the shows you like on one device.
We have found that the cheapest way to turn a normal TV into a smart TV is to use what you already have, whether it’s a smart Blu-ray player, game console, or laptop. However, if none of those work for you, you can always buy a small streaming device like a Google Chromecast or Roku.
1. Using Streaming Devices
The easiest way to turn a normal TV into a smart TV is by using streaming devices.
There are various streaming devices you can plug into a TV using either a USB or HDMI cable.
They come with their own operating system that displays on the TV, and connect to your WiFi.
Through the streaming device’s operating system, you can surf the web, and stream shows – effectively turning your TV into a smart TV.
Streaming devices come in a wide variety, but the most popular ones include:
You can easily plug these streaming devices into your TV so you can stream content.
And despite some of them being related to certain streaming brands, they are completely compatible with all popular streaming apps, including Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime.
They also allow you to install apps you can find on any smart device.
Because of this, these devices are a decent investment to help future-proof your entertainment system.
2. Using Gaming Consoles
If you already own gaming consoles, you can easily use them to turn your TV into a smart TV!
Thanks to technological advances, most gaming consoles nowadays are capable of connecting to the internet, so you can surf the web and stream media through them.
The most popular gaming consoles capable of this include:
The PS5, in particular, is a great choice since it has a special Media section so you can easily go through your content.
It allows you to switch between the Media and Game sections easily, so you could be playing a game and quickly switch over to the Media section to watch a show if you get bored!
It also comes with a remote that has buttons dedicated to streaming apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Disney Plus.
However, gaming consoles are only a good option if you already own one that is capable of streaming media. If you don’t, they’re obviously way too expensive if all you want to do is turn your TV into a smart TV.
3. Using Set-Top Boxes
Another way to turn a normal TV into a smart TV is by using a set-top box.
A set-top box plugs into your TV and provides the following features:
- TV channels
- Internet connection
- Wireless media casting from your devices to your TV
Because of this, you can have an all-in-one device for all the TV content you typically get, plus online content you’d get from a smart device.
However, since set-top boxes are bigger and also connect to TV channels, they tend to be more expensive. Therefore, it’s only a cheap option if you already have one.
4. Using Smart Blu-ray Players
Believe it or not, you can also use Blu-ray players to turn your TV into a smart TV!
This is because most Blu-ray players nowadays are smart Blu-ray players , which means they can access the internet and streaming media through apps like Netflix.
And since they’re already hooked up to your TV, all you have to do is connect them to your WiFi and you’re good to go!
Since a lot of people use Blu-ray players, they can be a cheap option. However, if you don’t already have one, they can be quite expensive as an investment in place of a smart TV.
5. Using a Computer
Finally, you can use your computer to turn your TV into a smart TV!
Simply connect your desktop or laptop computer to your TV using an HDMI cable.
This works better with a laptop, so you can bring it closer to the TV without needing to use an insanely long HDMI cable.
Once connected, the TV should start displaying your computer’s screen.
From there, you can connect your computer to your WiFi (although it’s probably already connected) and access your favorite streaming apps. Then, all you need to do is pick the content you want to watch and sit back!
However, it’s important to remember that this may not work seamlessly for all computers or TVs.
Depending on your models, you may have some difficulty getting the TV to recognize or display your computer’s screen.
Overall, this is one of the cheapest ways to turn a normal TV into a smart TV. However, because it may not work due to the devices you have, it is not applicable to everyone.
In the end, the cheapest way to turn a normal TV into a smart TV will depend on what you have!
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.