The way we’ve watched TV has greatly evolved over the last few years. Free TV and cable are no longer as big as before, and on-demand video streaming is in.

That said, today we’ll show you how to convert your old TV into a more capable smart TV. Here’s everything you should know and what you should have before getting started, what is the right product to use, and more. Let’s begin.

Table of Contents

What’s the difference between a regular TV and smart TV?

Regular flatscreen TVs only allow you to watch free live TV and cable — similar to what the thick CRT TVs do from before. You can watch HD content on the TV, as long as you have a third-party media player like a DVD/VCD player, computer, laptop, etc., which you’d usually plug via the HDMI port.

Having a smart TV eliminates the hassle of using external, third-party devices. Such TVs have built-in internet connectivity and an operating system that allows you to watch on-demand content (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) natively.

But if what you have is a regular flat TV, you can plug in a separate device that’s still easy to operate, so you can use it like a regular smart TV.

What do I need to turn an old TV into a smart TV?

  • Your old TV should have an HDMI port. If it’s a flat screen, it should have one. You can check the back of your TV if there’s HDMI support.
  • WiFi connectivity is a must, so the smart TV device you’d be using can connect to the internet.
  • Depending on what you choose, some devices may require a close power source or outlet.

Devices that can turn an old TV into a smart TV

Android TV sticks or Chromecast with Google TV

Google’s smart TV devices are our favorite for two reasons: First, they are reasonably priced; second, it has a vast app library and works with tons of other devices. There are tons of available Android TV devices out there, but here we’ve listed two of your best and most practical options.

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The cheapest you can get are Android TV sticks like the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick or the Realme 4K Smart Google TV Stick, which costs around Php1,500 to Php2,000. They already come with a remote and interface that lets you stream content and use other apps.

But based on our personal experience, such products feel a little slow and laggy at times, which is no surprise considering how small and affordable they are.

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If you want a more proper solution, you can try the product from Google themselves: the Chromecast with Google TV. Unlike the old Chromecasts that require a smartphone/tablet casting to work, this one stands on its own as it comes with its own Google TV interface and remote.

The Chromecast with Google TV allows you to use different video-on-demand streaming apps, listen to music over Spotify, and more. Plus, other apps like NAS file viewers, photo sharing, a couple of family games, and more.

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It also boasts a pretty robust remote that comes with a microphone for Google Assistant and can also act as a universal remote for both your TV and audio devices (soundbar, home theater, etc.)

The Chromecast with Google TV retails for USD49.99. Online stores in the Philippines are selling it for around Php3,000.

Set-top boxes from your internet service provider

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Internet service providers (ISP) are riding the popularity of streaming apps by offering plans with set-top box bundles, which are usually Android-powered devices.

The best part is you can pay for the product in monthly installments, which will be added to your bill. Making it really easy to obtain one.

Related

Apple TV 4K

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If you want something really powerful and fancy, check out the Apple TV 4K. While it may not make sense on your old TV, this one offers Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos technology, HDR, easy color-calibration software with your iPhone, and access to tons of apps.

It also has a robust remote with swipe controls, and of course, better integration with your other Apple products.

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It’s so feature-packed that you might keep on using it even after you upgrade to an actual smart TV. The price starts at Php10,990 for the 32GB model.

Game consoles

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Not the most economical way, but if you already own a game console, then you can also use it to stream on Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and other platforms if you want to relax after hours of gaming.

Amazon Fire TV

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Not the most popular name in the Philippines, but the Amazon Fire TV Stick is popular in a lot of countries. Like Google’s, this one works with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

It gives you access to almost all of the most popular streaming apps: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, ESPN, HBO, Disney+, and of course, Prime Video. Price starts at USD29.99 (around Php1,700) up to USD55 (around Php3,100) for the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

Use your old or new PC or laptop

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This is the best if you already have a laptop or PC and you don’t want to spend any money. Simply go get yourself a compact wireless keyboard with a trackpad as a remote.

Besides watching streaming apps, you can also browse the web or play games since it is a Windows machine. This should also work on Mac laptops/desktops. It’s also a good way to repurpose old gadgets you no longer use.

How much will it cost to turn my old TV into smart TV?

The cheapest device you can get are Android TV sticks, which are almost the size of a USB flash drive. Such devices cost around Php1,000 to Php2,000, depending on the brand and model.

Prices will go higher from there depending on what type of device you want to get. One of the most expensive is the Apple TV 4K, which starts at Php10,990.

What streaming apps can I use on a smart TV?

Pretty much all the top and leading video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platforms are available on all smart TVs. These apps include:

  • Netflix
  • YouTube / YouTube TV
  • HBO Max / HBO Go
  • Disney+
  • Apple+
  • Hulu
  • Peacock
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Tubi
  • Crunchyroll
  • Sling
  • CuriosityStream
  • Kanopy
  • History Vault
  • PBS Documentaries
  • Plex

Bear in mind that some platforms may not be available on your smart TV due to country restrictions.

Is it better to keep my old TV or upgrade to a real smart TV?

Honestly, it depends on your budget. If money is tight but you really want to watch your favorite shows on Netflix, HBO, etc., it is best you just keep your old TV and get a third-party device to make it “smart”.

But if you have the money to spend, upgrading to an actual smart TV actually makes a lot of sense as there are already tons of cheaper alternatives out there. As a bonus, you now have an extra TV that you can use in your guest bedroom, kitchen, or turn into a computer monitor.

That’s everything you should know if you’re planning on turning your old TV into a smart TV. If you have questions or further suggestions, let’s hear them out in the comments below.



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