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How to turn a TV into a Smart TV

How to turn a TV into a Smart TV

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Last updated: 12 January 2022

A Smart TV is one of those things that you never realised how much you needed until you have one. The days of connecting your laptop to your TV via a HDMI port are nearly over. The majority of new TVs sold now are Smart TVs, which enable you to connect to the internet, download streaming apps such as Netflix, Prime Video and NOW TV, and even browse the web. If you have an older TV that isn’t as intelligent, don’t worry, in this guide we will explain to you how to turn your standard TV into a Smart TV.

Turn your TV into a Smart TV with set-top boxes

A set-top box has the power to transform your TV into a Smart TV capable of streaming On demand content straight onto the TV, through a variety of apps and players. The installation and use of some applications does depend on your set-top box provider and some won’t work.

Sky Q

Sky has now made it possible to stream services such as Netflix and Disney+ directly to your Sky Q box. With a Sky Ultimate TV package you can access and stream content from Sky TV, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 from the same interface. You can get this on an 18-month contract for £25 per month with a £20 set up fee. You don’t need Sky broadband to get Sky Q.

BT YouView Box

The BT YouView Box is an On demand TV service with over 70 live digital channels. It seamlessly combines seven day catch-up on BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5 with a library of On demand television programmes, films and radio. Hooking this up to your TV will instantly make it Smart. Use our site to find BT broadband deals.

EE's Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K lets you watch movies and shows in amazing 4K HDR and with Dolby Atmos sound. You can stream great content from sites like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, ESPN and even Apple Originals from Apple TV+. In keeping with other Apple products, you can even use Siri to control it.

Make your TV a Smart TV with streaming devices

It is also possible to buy streaming devices that usually plug into your HDMI port on your TV.

Amazon Firestick

Quite simply the Amazon Firestick plugs into your device via the HDMI port and comes with a small remote. You can access the internet and download nearly 5,000 apps including all the major streaming sites and catch up players such as:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Vevo
  • BBC iPlayer

Apple TV

Very similarly to the Firestick, Apple TV plugs into your TV, connects to the Wi-Fi and lets you watch all your favourite streaming sites such as:

  • Apple TV+
  • Netflix
  • NOW TV
  • YouTube
  • Disney+
  • Spotify
  • Vevo
  • Catch-up TV apps

You can also input your Apple iD and download your iTunes playlists to play through your TV, which is a very useful feature.

Google Chromecast with Google TV

Google Chromecast works similarly to the Firestick as it plugs into the HDMI port and allows you to stream from whichever site suits you. But Google’s sleek interface on Google TV organises all your content – across all your streaming services – on one screen. So it’s easy to find what to watch. You can choose from over 400,000 movies and TV episodes so you will never be bored.

NOW TV stick

The best thing about a NOW TV stick is the NOW TV app. To access certain aspects of this you will still need to buy the right passes. You can watch the latest movies with a Sky Cinema pass, a Sky Sports pass will let you watch all 11 Sky Sports channels and a NOW TV Entertainment pass will allow you to watch the latest must-see TV shows. 

Make your TV Smart with games consoles

Nowadays your gaming consoles are able to download apps and streaming platforms, meaning you can watch Netflix, Prime Video and other catch-up services just by simply downloading the respective app onto your home screen. Of course you will still have to pay a monthly fee for Netflix and other services. The following games consoles have the capability to turn your TV into a Smart TV:

  • PS3 and PS4
  • Wii and Wii U
  • Xbox 360 and Xbox One
  • The upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X

Connecting devices to your TV

Alternatively, if you don’t have the capabilities or want instant streaming on your TV, you could always just grab a laptop, computer or tablet with a HDMI port and plug it into your TV that way.

Although going down this route, it is not guaranteed that every streaming service supports this ability: NOW TV, for example, won't let you connect your iPad directly to your TV to watch box sets.

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Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.