If you are buying a new TV you are wise to buy a smart TV, and there are plenty to choose from. But if you have a slightly older flat screen HDTV then I am sure the picture is still awesome and it has lots of life left in it.
Did you know that you can also make your HDTV a smart TV without spending too much – and there are quite a number of available options. If you're ready to get smart, ask yourself this: how smart do you want your TV to be? In other words, what functions that are not traditionally on a TV would you now like to see on the big screen?
The simplest solution to making your TV smart is hooking up your computer to it. Even if your computer doesn’t have an HDMI connection, you can get adapters to connect either the TV HDMI to your mini DVI port (typically for macs) or using your SCSI monitor connector (typically on PCs). By connecting directly to your TV you can essentially use it as a large monitor, allowing you to browse the Internet, stream videos, show your personal movies and pictures, play YouTube videos, Netflix, or any other applications that reside on your computer. This is a really simple way to make your TV a smart TV, the only issue is you can’t do it wirelessly. You need a long cable so you can keep the computer far enough away to drive the content.
Another basic option is using gaming consoles, such as the XBOX or Playstation. These are probably the most expensive options (and even these don’t cost that much), but you will get some amazing gaming graphics with a wide variety of fantastic games of all types. Many people don’t realize that today’s gaming console can do so much more than just play games. For instance the Sony PS3 is also a high quality blu-ray player, and it has wireless Internet connectivity so you can watch Netflix, YouTube videos, as well as access to a lot of online gaming platforms. You can also use it to load much of your own content off your computer through their USB ports so you can display your own photos and movies on the big screen. XBOX allows you to do the same type of additional “smart” fun things, and they are both very simple to connect to your system.
Another option comes from many manufacturers that have produced their own “smart” box designed to connect directly to your TV as well as the Internet, and provide a lot of additional features and functionality. They are typically very easy to setup in just a matter of minutes. Connecting to your TV is easy using an HDMI and/or component video connection, and to your surround sound system through either an optical connection and/or basic RCA connectors. These “smart” boxes includeRoku, Sony’s Internet Box,WD Live, Apple TV and more. Some of the additional features of these devices is that you can wirelessly connect to your computer to display content like photos, videos, movies, etc. In addition, most of them provide access to YouTube, Netflix, Flickr, Picasa, and a variety of other Internet applications. You can also get current movie releases (on a pay for basis), free music channels, sports channels, and view your Facebook, Twitter, and other popular sites with your TV.
So if your drooling over the latest Smart TV’s but you aren’t ready to consider your nice flat screen as obsolete yet, seriously look at the various add on boxes that will get you just what you need. I think these options are at least as good, and in some ways better because you can choose what smart features you want by selecting the right box, whereas if you buy a smart TV you are stuck with what is installed on that model TV. Consider what you really want to do with your TV, and I am sure you can find the right box that will do it within a pretty reasonable budget.
They are all very easy to install but if you still aren’t sure you can always contact Geek Squad.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions you can also ask the thousands of people who visit our community forums.
I love to try new technologies and I have a practical approach to techie stuff - it has to be easy to use and make my life better. I have my house fully wired, with a surround sound system in my family room for music and TV viewing, but also drive music throughout the house as well as outdoors. I Internet stream content on all my devices at home, which provides a huge variety of entertainment to enjoy.