Here’s how you can make your existing TV ‘smart’, without spending a bomb
Smart TVs are expensive and not all of us can afford them. But it doesn’t mean you cannot make your existing TV ‘smart’. Here’s how you can do it.
Most of us are hooked to one show or another on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hotstar. These services are available on both mobile and desktop browsers, allowing you to stream content from anywhere. But many of us watch these shows on our mobile phones or laptops. Of course, you can be up to date with the storyline by watching it on small screens, but a pure cinematic experience can only come through a larger screen.
Trouble is, not all of us can afford smart TVs that run these applications or know how to upgrade the existing LED or LCD TVs we have at home. I have a basic 32-inch LG LCD TV but coupled with good Sony speakers for surround sound in my living room. I neither want to upgrade my TV nor miss out on the fun of watching shows like Game of Thrones or Penny Dreadful on a larger-screen. Perhaps, your use case could be different, but here's how you can make your dumb TV smart, watch all these shows on a larger screen, without burning a hole in your budget.
Minimum requirement: Broadband/Wi-Fi connection, HDMI port in your TV, LCD/LED TV or any monitor with HDMI port.
Google Chromecast 2
The Google Chromecast is the easiest way to stream content from your mobile phone to your TV. The dongle connects with your TV via HDMI port and allows you to mirror your phone and laptop as well as specific applications. There are many streaming applications that support Google Chromecast. Some of the popular Chromecast compatible apps are Netflix, Hooq, Google Play Music, YouTube and Saavn. You can find the full list of compatible apps here. Desktop users can stream any website on a bigger screen.
Besides streaming content from your mobile phone, you can also use the Chromecast to turn your TV into a picture frame. You can customise the screen further with photos from Facebook, Google Photos and more.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Google's Chromecast does a fine job, but it does rely on a secondary device for streaming content. Amazon's Fire TV stick resolves this problem.
The Amazon Fire TV stick is again a HDMI-based device, but comes with 8GB of on-board storage. It runs Amazon's proprietary Fire OS and is powered by a 1.3GHz MediaTek quad-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM.
Though the Amazon Fire TV stick resembles the older Google Chromecast dongle, it is a capable media player. Amazon offers a wide range of apps catalogue that includes Hotstar, YouTube, Netflix and games like Flappy Bird. It also supports YouTube. This essentially means you can download the app on the dongle, and stream these services without needing to touch your mobile phone.
The device comes with its own remote that also supports voice commands. The remote understands Indian accent very well and lets you search Hindi movies effortlessly.
The ReTV media player focuses on letting you search the content you want to stream on a bigger screen. The company has tied up with several Over The Top (OTT) players to offer 1,000 free movies. Just like the Amazon Fire TV stick, you can watch videos via YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. It also supports applications such as Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and Eros Now among others. Remember, we never encourage you to pirate content, but you should know that the media player also lets you download and stream content from BitTorrent. The media player is also clubbed with a motion sensor remote.
Airtel Internet TV
Price: Start at ₹4,999
The problem with these external media devices is that you need to constantly switch between HDMI inputs. Airtel earlier this year launched an advanced set-top-box that comes with support for Netflix, Hotstar and other streaming services. This essentially means the set-top-box not only lets you watch your regular TV channels, it also gives you access to OTT apps like YouTube and Netflix.
The set-top-box runs on Android TV operating system and comes with 8GB of built-in storage and supports additional storage up to 128GB via a microSD card. It also has native support for Google Chromecast, which basically means you can stream content to the TV through all the Chromecast-compatible applications.
By subscribing to Airtel Internet TV, you get 25GB bonus data from Airtel if you have a broadband plan priced more than ₹999. For under ₹999 broadband plans, Airtel gives you 10GB of free data.