How to Turn Your TV Into a Smart TV 


TVs became essential entertaining devices in many households since the 1950s. As time went on and technology continued progressing, a simple screen was no longer enough. The 1980s introduced videotex and Teletext services allowing viewers to receive programs and information transmitted via a broadcast television signal. That was the beginning of “intelligent” TV. Later on, in the mid-late 2000s and early 2010s, major TV companies announced the production of Smart TVs. Fully occupying the market since 2015, smart TVs became the dominant type of home entertainment.  

Smart TVs allow you to stream movies, shows, sports and other programs and apps via an internet connection. That also means you can use your smart TV to play games without the need for a separate cable or streaming device.   

You might be looking into upgrading your old TV and purchasing a new one, but if it is still in decent shape, you could use a few simple tricks to turn a basic TV into a smart television. Pretty much any type of television can be modernized. With a streaming adapter, that surely costs less than a brand-new smart TV, you will enjoy the same functionality.   

Most TVs made after 2005 come with an HDMI port, which means all devices we selected for an upgrade could easily be plugged into the port. (If, however, your TV is older than the year 2005, you can purchase an HDMI-to-AV adapter.) Further, we will discuss a few devices, from streaming adapters to gaming sets and sound bars, that could turn your TV into a smart one.   

For a TV to become smart, it has to be connected to the internet, that in the end transforms it into a streaming device. Hence, with a little help, your old TV can offer any of your favourite movie streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+, and play music from Spotify.   

(Besides streaming movies, a smart TV is compatible with voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, however, you would have to invest in smart speakers as well).   

It is worth mentioning here that before you label your TV as ‘basic’ double-check if it already has built-in smart features. And even if so, you could still upgrade it up to date. Smart TVs update every couple of years, and separate streaming devices could provide you with those upgrades without actually changing the screen. “Plug in a 2016 Roku 3, for example, and it will get the latest versions of Netflix and even Disney Plus,” says, “the Roku Voice Remote Pro add-on not only offers a neat, voice-activated remote finder, but it can act as a wireless headphone adapter for use at night,” says CNET.   

Why Trust Us 

We understand that TVs became centre pieces in many households, and the smarter it gets, the better it is for the viewer. Hence, we committed several hours to analyzing what other users had to say about the best devices that turned their old TVs into smart streamers. 

Besides, we also found out what other buying guides suggest about the best ways to transform an old screen into an ‘intelligent’ type of television (CNET, Gadget Snow, Family Handy Man and others) 

The Connecting Process   

As mentioned previously, you would need wireless internet to make a TV smart. (Although, some streaming devices work via an Ethernet connection, it is best to have a fast, flawless Wi-Fi connection. When you buy a smart device to upgrade your TV, prepare your Wi-Fi password and access point name. Depending on a streaming device you might have to download an app for your phone to make connection easier. Then, plug the device into an HDMI port on the back of your TV and follow the appeared instruction.   

Then can enjoy apps and streaming channels and connect to other smart devices, where a lot of content is available at no charge.   


2022 Apple TV 4K (64GB): Best For Power Users and Gaming 

Apple is truly challenging to beat when it comes to technology. This particular device does not only turn your basic TV into a smart device but also provides enough support for flawless online gaming. The modern A15 Bionic processor features incredible power making the 2022 Apple TV 4K the best option for gamers.  

As one user noted, the new model with the A15 Bionic Chip is extremely snappy. He did not notice a big difference compared to his 2017 Apple TV. They were both quick. However, the Apple TV box now only presents itself with only an Apple logo on the top rather than Apple TV written on it which makes it much more minimalistic and has an incredibly small footprint.   

The same reviewer also added that there is a beta feature that allows devices connected to your TV to be outputted through your HomePods for hands-free control. That means consoles and other devices with audio can be played on HomePod. Unfortunately, this feature is only available on Apple TV 2021 and 2022, he concluded. 

For additional convenience, the Siri remote allows precise control via a touch-enabled click pad. Enjoy the latest shows and movies from Apple TV+, as well as Apple Fitness+ and Apple Music. If you own other Apple products and wish to share photos, videos and files from your iPhone, iPad and Mac you can do that on your TV.  

Another customer noted, no question this Apple TV is fantastic if you use Apple devices. So if you do have an iPhone or iPad, you should not think of buying anything else than this! This is great with AirPods paired, and she loves that this communicates and connects to all her apple devices. That also makes use of smart homes easier. The specs are powerful, so you can do so much with this box. “I will never go back to a Roku or Chromecast,” she added.    



Roku Streambar: Best Sound Streaming Player

For those who do not use Apple products, but look for an easy way to upgrade their old TV with improved sound and unlimited streaming, the Roku Stream bar is choice number one among many users.   

Roku Streambar is a compact speaker and streamer that will easily elevate your movie nights and parties into a more pleasurable experience where you do not have to turn on the captions to clarify dialogues or distinguish a song’s lyrics.   

The Streambar is packed with useful features, streaming in HD/4K/Hart with dual-band wireless and Ethernet port. A user noted that he bought the Ultra for several reasons. First, he wanted a Roku that used Ethernet because the “Express” models routinely stutter. He is really happy with how fast it works when plugged in rather than on Wi-Fi. Secondly, he wanted a media player that he could attach via USB. Again, he is really happy with the ease at which it works, and the speed it scrolls. The organization leaves something to be desired though, with all of your files listed in Netflix style in rows of 4. The fact that the remote does not have to point at the IR sensor is extremely nice, he noted. gh

Speaking of remote control, the Roku Streambar also comes with a voice remote control, a lost remote finder and a headphone jack for private listening, (Premium JBL headphones are included).   

You can select from among 500, 000+ movies, search TV shows, and series on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Now and more without the necessity to subscribe, simply by using the Roku channel. You can also stream live sports and news with this device.   



Google Chromecast with Google TV: Best Voice Control Streamer

Known as the best streamer with voice control, Google Chromecast comes with a streaming stick and a voice-enabled remote. Besides watching your favourite shows and movies, you can use it to control other smart devices in your home. As per some reviews, the Google Chromecast interface is better than Roku’s because it surfaces individual shows rather than making you choose an app first.  

The streamer provides you with access to over 700,000 movies and TV episodes, plus millions of songs and news channels. Based on your subscriptions, you can receive recommendations on movies, shows and other content.   

The Google Assistant (accessible via remote) allows you to use voice control to find specific shows, and search by mood or genre, instead of typing it.   

If you have other smart Google devices, you can use Google Chromecast to change the temperature in the house, dim lights, or even unlock the front door.   

Many reviewers find Chromecast useful in creating kids’ profiles. You can create a playful colourful avatar and theme for each child, set parental control over certain shows, limit watching time and turn on bedtime and allow your kids to watch their favourite movies and cartoons without you having to supervise them.

Updated date

March 10th, 2023

About the author

Maria Kossman

Maria Kossman is an essayist, and content specialist at Her writing appeared in a variety of fashion magazines. When she is not focused on reviewing and writing, she spends time exploring coffee shops, English literature and antique malls.
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