How Can I Turn My Old TV Into A Smart TV? (10 Easy Ways)

The once-state-of-the-art television sets that provided us with hours of amusement are now frequently relegated to dusty corners and replaced by sleeker, more modern alternatives in a time when technology advances at a breakneck pace. 

Because technology changes so quickly, a television that was cutting-edge when you bought it may seem old in just a few years. Maybe you’re wondering if it’s time to upgrade because your smart TV is no longer the best on the market and doesn’t support all the streaming services.

The good news is that you don’t have to run out and buy the newest and best smart TV right away to keep up. There are a few simple and cheap ways to make your TV better. Consider converting your old TV into a powerful hub of connectivity that is perfectly integrated into the current digital world.

In this thorough guide, we delve into the world of converting your old television into a smart marvel and examine the many of options that let you stream, surf, and engage in ways that have never been possible before. We explore the procedures, resources, and tips need to begin this interesting adventure, from understanding the overwhelming variety of streaming devices to maximizing the possibilities of open-source software. 

Come along with us as we traverse the transition from the past to the present, one HDMI cable and line of code at a time, by dusting off that long-forgotten relic.

What features make a Smart TV?

What features make a Smart TV?

To be called smart, a TV needs to be able to connect to the internet, stream music and videos from the internet, play different types of audio, video, and picture files, and have an AI-powered digital voice assistant. A cheap smart streaming device that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and has the following features is an easy way to turn a dumb TV into a smart TV.

  • Either an Ethernet port or Wi-Fi can be used to connect to the Internet. (If you’re facing issues with your TV disconnecting from Wi-Fi, explore our comprehensive article for troubleshooting tips.)
  • Have DLNA and the power to mirror your phone or tablet’s screen.
  • You should be able to watch songs and videos with apps like Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and others.
  • There are digital personal assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

So, those are the best ways to turn an existing TV or computer into a smart TV. This way, you can save money by not buying a brand-new TV or by turning old TVs or computers into smart TVs. You can also watch movies and TV shows or listen to songs on your work computer.

If you’re curious about whether you own a smart TV, we’ve created an article titled How Do I Know If I Have a Smart TV to provide you with all the answers you need.

How to turn a regular TV into a smart TV

How to turn a regular TV into a smart TV

Can you use a streaming service like Netflix or Disney+ on a regular TV or computer screen? Yes, definitely! Just use the smarts of a different device that can connect to your computer. Smart connectivity, which means TVs that can connect to the internet, is all the rage right now. This makes it easy to use services like Stan, Netflix, Binge, and Disney+ to watch TV, movies, and sports. 

There are a few ways to do it:

1. Amazon Fire TV Stick

If you have Amazon Prime, you should get a Fire TV device. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, these cheap streaming gadgets work well with it. They just plug into your HDMI port and have a screen that looks familiar and is connected to your Amazon account. The least expensive option is the Fire TV Stick Lite. The most expensive option is the Fire TV Cube, which can only be managed by voice. You can watch all of the big streaming services on a TV that isn’t smart if you have a Fire TV gadget. This includes Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+, Max (previously HBO Max), Hulu, and Peacock.

All Fire TV devices can get content from your Android or Google Chrome web browser.

2. Apple TV

Apple TV is used to watch movies and TV shows, but it is not a TV at all. It’s an HDMI device that can be put into any TV, even one that isn’t smart, to turn it into a streaming device that can connect to the internet. If you have a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or any other Apple product, the screen will look familiar, and you can even sign in with your Apple ID. Apple TV has all the big streaming services, like Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu.

Apple TV also works with AirPlay, so you can stream apps and show what’s on the screen of your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Apple TV and Roku are the only streamers that work with AirPlay.

3. Chromecast and Google TV Picture

The new Chromecast is a good streaming device. Before, you could only watch movies, TV shows, and other content from an Android device or the Chrome web browser. On the other hand, Google TV is already built into the new Chromecast. Google TV is what will make your regular TV smart, since it works with all the big streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Max and has a full-featured Play Store with hundreds of other apps you can download.

Even the third-generation Chromecast doesn’t have a remote or a special user interface that looks like a smart TV. The only thing they do is show what’s on other gadgets.

4. Blu-ray Players

Many current Blu-ray players can also stream content to a smart TV. If you like playing Blu-rays as much as you like watching Netflix, check out LG, Magnavox, Philips, Sony, and Toshiba’s smart Blu-ray players.

5. Gaming consoles

Streaming TV is also possible on all Xbox and PlayStation systems made in the last few years. On many Xbox and PlayStation models, you don’t need a smart TV to watch Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Max, YouTube, Apple TV+, and other services.

Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X can be used instead of smart TVs. Xbox 360 also has a lot of live feeds, but because it’s so old, you can’t get as many apps for it.

Streaming is possible on PS5, PS4, and PS3, and most big streaming sites work with all three.

6. Roku

Roku was one of the first companies to offer streaming TV, and it makes gadgets for everyone. Roku is one of the best ways to turn a regular TV into a smart TV because their products are cheap and easy to use. All Roku streaming devices work with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Max, Apple TV+, Peacock, and almost any other streaming service you can think of.

Roku also works on projectors.

Roku Express and Roku Express 4k+ are cheap streaming devices that are easy to use and can be used with any TV. Because of how it’s made, if your TV is mounted on the wall, the Roku Streaming Stick or Streaming Stick 4K+ might be a better pick. Both the Roku Ultra and the Streambar are high-end gadgets that have extra features.

Roku also works with AirPlay, which lets you show the screen of your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your TV wirelessly. It’s the only portable streaming gadget that works with AirPlay. The others use Chromecast.

7. Set-top Boxes

If you have cable or satellite, you may be able to watch. Many modern TV providers offer set-top boxes that mix live TV channels with a smart streaming device with all of its features. With these boxes, you can turn a regular TV into a smart TV by adding apps you can download, access to the internet, and the ability to cast shows and movies directly from your computer or phone.

Live cable TV and smart TV streaming are both part of Xfinity X1, which is widely offered in the US.

Atlantic Broadband has TiVo HD receivers and DVRs that combine regular cable TV services with all streaming apps that TiVo supports.

DISH Network has different streaming devices. Some have DVRs that let you record live TV, while others don’t. All of them can connect to the internet and work with most major streaming services.

For more information on whether a smart TV needs a cable box, check out our dedicated article.

8. NVIDIA Shield TV

Don’t pass up the NVIDIA Shield if you like to play games in the cloud. This high-end device can turn any TV into a smart TV, and it can also stream games to your PC with a GeForce graphics card. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Plex, Google Play Movies, and the NVIDIA Games app are already on the Shield. Shield is driven by Android TV, so you can add any other streaming service from the Play Store, such as Hulu, Disney+, or Apple TV+.

Like most other streaming devices, Shield TV lets you send apps from your Android phone or video from Chrome to your TV using Chromecast technology.

9. TiVo Stream

TiVo has a number of streaming devices that can be used with any TV. TiVo Stream 4K is the most affordable and standard choice. It lets you stream high-quality content from more than 5,000 apps, such as Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and Max. If you want a DVR to record live TV, try the TiVo Edge for antenna and cable services and the TiVo Mini LUX, which lets you use the TiVo Edge in other rooms of your home.

Chromecast works with newer models of TiVo, so you can send material from your Android or Google Chrome web browser to your TV.

10. Portal TV

On your biggest screen, Facebook’s Portal TV brings together the best streaming apps and video calls. This streaming device connects to your HDMI port and works with Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Paramount+, Netflix, Showtime, and Sling TV.[4] This is a good choice if you want to make a lot of video calls on your TV because it has an HD camera built in. You can even watch Facebook Watch videos live with your friends, and you can use services like Workplace for Facebook and Zoom to work from the comfort of your couch.

How to Install a Streaming Device in Your TV?

If you buy a new smart device, you’ll need to take a few easy steps to set it up. Each device works a little bit differently, and we have step-by-step steps for Roku and Amazon Fire TV in particular. If you don’t want to use one of those or just want a general idea, you’ll need the following:

  1. Wi-Fi: First, make sure you have your Wi-Fi information on hand. You will need the name of your access point (your router) and your password.  
  2. Is there an app for my phone? Some devices also need an app to be installed on your phone or computer. Check the app store on your phone. These apps can also make it easy to enter the Wi-Fi information. 
  3. Look for a free HDMI port: Find a free HDMI port on the back of your TV and remember what number it is. For example, HDMI 1 and 2 are often free. But if your TV was made before 2005, you might want to buy a cheap HDMI-to-AV adapter.
  4. The power: Plug in the power wire that came with your device and connect it to it. Some TVs have USB ports, but it’s best not to use them because they might not give your streaming device enough power. 
  5. Connect it: Plug the device into your TV’s port, switch the TV to the HDMI input you chose, and then follow the directions on the device’s screen. 

You are now the proud owner of a smart TV!

Also Read: Do Roku TVs have Bluetooth? (4 Easy Steps to Set It Up)

Wrap up on how to turn an old TV into a smart TV

The process of turning an old TV into a modern hub that is connected to the internet shows us that we can shape our experiences with technology by using what we already have and what we just learned.

Trying to turn an old TV into a smart one isn’t just about the end result; it’s also about what you learn, what you try, and how satisfied you feel along the way. Trying to turn an old TV into a smart one isn’t just about the end result. It’s exciting to get through the complicated installation steps and fun to find content on platforms that seemed out of reach before. By exploring the options of HDMI adapters, streaming devices, and open-source solutions, we have not only made our favorite electronics last longer, but we have also grown a better understanding of how technology fits into our lives. This was made possible by making our favorite gadgets last longer.

The change from an old TV to a smart one can be seen as a metaphor for how people grow, change, and evolve over their lifetimes. So, let’s enjoy the harmony of the past and present by watching old classics and exploring new worlds through our new TVs. Let’s also look forward to the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

Smart TV FAQs


What is a “smart TV” conversion?

To turn an old TV into a smart TV, you need to add new features to it, like the ability to connect to the internet, run apps, and use streaming services. This basically turns it into a more flexible multimedia hub.

Do I need to know how to use technology to make my old TV a smart TV?

Having some knowledge of technology can be helpful, but many of the options available today are easy to set up and use. Most of the time, you only need a basic understanding of HDMI interfaces and how to use settings menus.

What are some common ways to turn my TV into a smart TV?

You can add smart features by using HDMI streaming devices like Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, or Google Chromecast. Also, open-source software like Kodi can be put on some devices to make the smart TV experience more personal.

Does a smart TV switch require an internet connection?

Yes, you need an internet connection for most smart TV features, like streaming services, apps, and online video. But you might still be able to play some local media without being connected to the internet.

Can I put Netflix and YouTube apps on my old TV?

The price depends on which way you choose. Streaming devices with HDMI can cost between $30 and $100, and some software options are free. When making a choice, think about your income and the features you want.
Remember that changing an old TV into a smart TV is about giving your old technology a new lease on life and giving you more ways to have fun. Explore your choices, think about the pros and cons of each, and choose the method that fits your needs and tastes the best.

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David Coleman
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