How to turn your TV into a smart TV while spending little

Transforming your TV into a smart TV can be easy and inexpensive: here's how to navigate between HDMI dongles and more hi-tech solutions

You have an old TV still in great condition and would like to turn it into a smart TV, without spending too much. If you want to access streaming video service apps such as Netflix, Prime Video or DAZN directly from your TV, there are a number of solutions you can use, all of which are valid according to your needs.

Transforming your TV into a smart TV allows you to use it as a media center, download additional apps such as games and utilities, and even search browsers directly from your screen. There are many devices on the market to achieve these results, from dongles that plug into the TV's HDMI port, such as Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick, to Android TV Box minicomputers, which run on the operating system of the same name, or the Apple TV media center. Among the less economical options, there are also the use of satellite decoders or the purchase of a console such as PlayStation 4 or Xbox.

HDMI dongles: how to turn your TV into a smart TV

The simplest and cheapest device that allows you to turn your TV into a smart TV is the HDMI dongle. These are dongles that connect directly to the HDMI port of the TV and allow you to access applications and mirror the screen from tablets, smartphones and computers directly on the TV. Among the best known are Chromecast, Amazon Fire Tv Stick and Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, which we now present.

Chromecast is Google's popular HDMI dongle, also available in a 4K version under the name Chromecast Ultra. Once you've purchased the device and connected it to your TV via the HDMI port, you'll just need to proceed with the guided setup via Google's Home app and then you'll be able to access numerous apps, video streaming services and more. In addition to being compatible with all Google devices, Chromecast is also compatible with Apple devices that support Chrome.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is also an HDMI dongle that once plugged into your TV and connected to your home Wi-Fi will initiate automatic configuration, allowing you to access video content and all the free, or paid, apps available on the Amazon Store. The Amazon dongle also allows you to browse the internet using a common browser, such as Firefox. In addition, the included universal remote control makes it easy to control content and navigate. Another good HDMI dongle is Xiaomi's Mi TV Stick, a device that just like the others is easily installed by plugging it into your TV's HDMI port and Wi-Fi, set it up and then allows you to use your TV as a smart TV.

Android TV Box to have a smart TV

To turn your TV into a smart TV you can otherwise use minicomputers that integrate the Android operating system, better known as Android Tv Boxes. Like dongles, these connect to your traditional TV through HDMI cables and after setup you'll simply need to download apps from the Google Play Store to access video streaming services like Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video, online games and other apps.

Android TV Boxes are available in different models and price ranges: starting from those that cost less than 40 euros, but often have problems with Wi-Fi reception or overheating, up to the price range of about 200 euros, among which we find the NVIDIA Shield TV, which can also be used as a gaming console.

Apple TV, how to make your TV smart

Also Apple offers its own solution to turn your old TV into a smart TV. It's the Apple TV media center, which allows you to access content from the internet and surf the web. With Apple TV you can use applications such as Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video, or mirror content from your iPhone, iPad or Mac directly from the TV. The Apple TV is available in a standard version, or in a 4K version that allows access to Ultra HD content.

Satellite decoder to transform your TV

A more expensive but still possible solution to turn your television into a smart TV comes with high-end satellite decoders. DTT/SAT decoders with prices often over 100 euros provide support for Wi-Fi connection and include USB ports that allow you to record or play multimedia content.

Also PS4 and Xbox to get a smart TV

Not everyone knows that current consoles such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox allow you to turn your TV into a smart TV. The popular video game consoles, equipped with a thankless Blu-ray player, have their own app store that allows them to download and use YouTube, Netflix and Prime Video directly on the TV. You will then simply need to download the desired app from the PS4 or Xbox store to watch your favorite series or a movie streamed on your old TV.