Cheapest Way To Turn Your TV Into An Android Smart TV

Author Dragan Berak 5.1.2018. | 16:00

For plucky consumers who own old TV sets, there’s plenty of opportunity for going ‘smart’. Thanks to numerous solutions and workarounds, there’s a budget-friendly way to upgrade to total TV wisdom without having to purchase a new set.

You will have to purchase a smart set-top box, however. Not sure what that entails? This is your guide to finding the best Android TV box for all your entertainment goals. And if you’ve never had a smart TV setup before, you’re in for a whole new world of digital discovery.

An Android TV Box Creates a Hub for Living

In-home entertainment is by far one of the most disrupted industries of our era. Equipped with the best Android TV box, your TV now has the potential to be the hub of your home.

This hub can be the place where you conveniently manage all your important household functions, watch movies and shows, play games, and browse the web… all through a central dashboard that simplifies these major portions of your life. And of course with this potential comes the dizzying prospect of finally achieving a common goal of today’s modern consumer: freeing yourself from the cable companies.

Of course, all this requires that you have a smart TV.

But not everyone is a first adopter and many households are stuck with old-technology TV sets that can’t connect to anything except with a coaxial cable. The answer? If you’re on a budget, it’s a hack made possible by nothing more than a cheap Android TV box.

Why Are There So Many Smart TV Hacks Out There?

Surprisingly, people tend to replace their TVs with far less frequency than they do their smartphones. According to a Global TV Replacement Study by NPD DisplaySearch, people replace their TVs approximately every seven years.

That means there are lot of ‘dumb’ TVs out there! That also means there are a lot of solutions out there, too. Whether you want to use yours to stream shows into the kitchen or you plan on letting your kids watch Netflix on an old set, an Android TV box can probably make your dumb TV smart (if it’s not too old). And at a fraction of the price of buying a smart TV, it’s well worth the effort to learn how to set one up. Here’s what you need to know.

Turning Your Dumb TV into an Android Smart TV: Why Android?

An Android set-top box will connect your TV and your WiFi network, effectively bringing internet capability to your TV. That means access to apps and services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Crackle, and more.

There are a handful of platforms for running a smart TV interface, including Windows, Linus, OS X, Apple’s iOS, and of course Android. Android is a robust, universal platform that many people already know from using it on their phones, which is why we’re just going to cover Android TV boxes.

Which Type of Android TV Box to Get?

There are dozens of different devices that will turn you TV into a smart TV but if you’re aiming for the cheapest route, including ‘mini’ boxes, Android TV sticks, and full set-top boxes. Here’s a quick summary of the cheap Android TV box types:

  • Android TV Stick. This is a type of dongle, is a USB-sized device that plugs into the back of your TV. Prices start around US$25.
  • Android TV Box. Not as portable as the TV stick, these are roughly the size of a small sandwich or a traditional square modem, depending on the model you choose. Prices start around US$22.
  • Mini Android TV Box. Minis combine the best of both worlds: the portability of a stick with many of the capabilities of a full set-top box. Prices start around US$22.

Going Smart With a Stick

Besides pocket portability, one thing people love about Android TV sticks is their super fast and easy setup. Ready for this? Here are the instructions: find your TV’s HDMI port, then connect your stick directly.

There are some drawbacks, however. The interface of a stick is going to be far less user-friendly than that of a full set-top box. You may need to use your smartphone to control some models.

Plus, you’ll end up paying more if you want Bluetooth of WiFi in addition to the USB that most come with. Some also require you to purchase additional software development kits. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—but here we’re focusing on cheap Android TV boxes so budget is key.

Then there are special considerations for gamers.

Special Considerations for Gamers

If you’re a gamer, there’s another reason a stick model might not suffice. They don’t usually come with controllers—especially the cheaper one—so you’ll have to find your own. At that point, with the extra cost, you might as well consider a full set-top box. You’ll get the superior user experience with the interface as well as better functionality.

As far as the full set-top Android TV boxes go, for those with deep pockets, there’s Nvidia’s Shield. But not everyone has deep pockets so for anyone on a budget, there are numerous other TV boxes powered by Android that will do the job nicely, too.

Conclusion: Checklist for Everything Your Android TV Box Should Have

You already know to choose an Android-powered TV box so you can use all your favorite Google Play apps on your new smart TV. But you should also look for a box that has the following features.

  • XBMC. XBMC, also known as Kodi, is a media player application that handles apps like Pandora and YouTube.
  • 4K Resolution. Make the most out of the newest movies and live sports.
  • Access to Google Play Store. Access apps and games.
  • WiFi
  • Miracast
  • DLNA
  • Quad-Core Processor or above
  • 3D Movie Support
  • Warranty

We’ll leave you with that wishlist. For information on specific models, visit the Android TV Box area of our site, where we have an extensive offering of different brands and models for all types of users.

 

Author Dragan Berak 5.1.2018. | 16:00
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