Most of today's televisions include some type of Smart TV system inside, be it Tizen OS , webOS , Android TV , Firefox OS or any other. However, what happens if we buy a television just before the smart tv boom and we want to have these functions? Do we have to throw away the TV and buy a new one? Fortunately, the answer is no. Either because it works perfectly, either because you are fond of it or because you have a high-end plasma that at the time had the best image quality but not a smart system, it will not be necessary to get rid of your television to get the network functions that include current models. Of course, as is logical, we will have to resort to external devices to equip our old television with these functions. But do not worry, these devices are usually quite discreet and do not occupy much, at least most of them. We are going to review how we can convert an “old” TV without network functions into a whole Smart TV that will have nothing to envy to current models.
We need an HDMI connector
The first thing we need to turn our old TV into a Smart TV is that it has an HDMI connection . If it is perfect, if not, we will have to find a solution. For this we can buy a scart to HDMI adapter or component to HDMI adapter , depending on the connections that the TV has. If you have a component connection (colored RCA connectors), it is advisable to use this connection, it will always give a bit more image quality than the scart.
There are many converters of this type on the market. A simple search on Amazon or any other specialized store will give us different results. We must choose the one that best suits what we are looking for and, above all, the one that suits us well with the connections of our television. Of course, we must bear in mind that we are transforming an analog connection into digital, so we should not expect an image quality like that of current Full HD or 4K televisions . We have to count on the fact that, if our television does not have an HDMI connection, it will not be Full HD, it may not even be HD 720p, so perhaps, in this case, it is necessary to consider changing the television for a more current one.
Now that we have an HDMI connector on our TV, we can now look for a device that provides us with the same applications that any television currently has. Luckily or unfortunately, we can choose from a large number of devices for this purpose, so it is possible that we get a bit of trouble searching. However, we can divide them into two large blocks.
One of the most widespread options is to use one of the many Android devices that can be connected to the TV . Currently the offer is really wide and we can find practically everything, from small USB sticks that connect directly to the HDMI port, to complete set top boxes with powerful processors and capable of moving video with 4K resolution. One of the simplest and cheapest Android- based devices that we can use is Google's Chromecast . The Chromecast is a small stick with an HDMI connection that allows us to send any type of content to the TV using our mobile or tablet .
Its operation is really simple. All we will have to do is open the application that we want to use on the mobile, be it YouTube , the photo viewer or any other multimedia application, and, using the button located in the upper right, send the content to the Google Chromecast to played on the TV. In addition, the vast majority of applications are compatible , so we will be able to play both Netflix and YouTube videos , even those of national networks' own applications such as A3Player . And all this for only 39 euros .
If we don't like the idea of having to rely on a smartphone or tablet to share content, we have other options. We can choose a USB stick with Android , which usually incorporate a USB connector to connect a hard drive with our multimedia files. In addition, with the Google operating system we can use the most popular applications.
On the other hand, we can opt for the so-called set top boxes with Android . They are larger devices than sticks but they usually incorporate a greater number of connections and, generally, more powerful processors and more RAM memory . Although we can find some options for about 50 euros, if we opt for one of these devices we recommend choosing one that has a powerful processor and good RAM memory, since otherwise we could experience slowness in the menus or problems in the playback of files with a higher bitrate. One of the most powerful Android set top boxes on the market (if not the most powerful) is the Nvidia Shield Android TV . It offers the advantage that it alsoit can be used as a video game console , due to various systems that the device incorporates. However, its price is somewhat high compared to the rest of the set top boxes on the market, having to pay 200 euros if we want to get it in its version with 16 GB of internal storage.
Room computer or HTPC
Android devices may not convince us too much, either because of their limited power or because of the operating system. If this is your case, you might like the option of using a Mini PC or even a complete computer in a box for “living room computers” . Do you like the idea? We go in parts. On the one hand we have the Mini PC , complete computers but that have been manufactured in mini format . Today they are quite widespread, having options from practically any current computer manufacturer, such as Asus , MSI , Apple or Intel. Of course, even if they are in a small format, we are talking about computers, so the price shoots up if we compare them with Android sticks .
The last option we have, reserved only for users who want to have a powerful computer connected to the television, is to mount what is known as an HTPC , which is nothing more than a normal computer mounted in a desktop format box whose appearance, usually they resemble Hi-Fi equipment or DVD players. With this option we will have practically the power we want, since we can use the components that we would use on any computer, but with a format that will not clash in our living room. As you may have imagined, this option is much higher than the previous ones in most cases, although, if we choose the components well, we can be sure that everything will work smoothly.
As you have seen, we have many options to convert a television that is a few years old into a Smart TV . Although it is true that if the television is from a long time ago, as the tube televisions the first plasmas, we will have it somewhat more complicated and the image quality will not be as good as it should be, but at least we will have the network functions that they incorporate the majority of current televisions.