How to Make Your TV a Smart TV

Want a Smart TV but don’t want to buy a new set? Fear not, we’ll show you how to turn your old TV into a Smart TV.
How to Make Your TV a Smart TV
Published: 12th Feb 2021
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By SHN Team

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In this modern age of communication, a variety of everyday appliances have been adapted to take advantage of connectivity. One of these is the smart TV, a device that has become a must as video on demand and streaming video gain more popularity.

The trouble with this development is that new technologies tend to be costly, and buying a new internet capable smart TV can be expensive. Fortunately, many of the televisions already being used can easily be converted into a smart TV with just a few additions.

If you’ve recently bought a new TV, there’s a good chance it’s already smart TV-capable. But if it’s not, in this article we’ll show you how to make your regular TV a smart TV.

The Things You’ll Need

A majority of TVs produced today can be adapted to become a smart TV. But there are several requirements you’ll need in order to convert it to a smart TV. Here are the things you’ll need:

  • TV HDMI Connector – This is the basic requirement in turning your TV into a smart TV. Many of the smart media players that you’ll connect to the TV will need an HDMI connection. If you’ve bought a TV recently, then there’s a good chance that it has an HDMI connector and an HDMI cable included.

    Check either the base, side, or behind your TV set to see if it has an HDMI port. The connection itself will be labeled as “HDMI.” If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, there are RCA to HDMI adapters available to remedy the situation. RCA to HDMI adapters attach to the video and audio input jacks on the back of your TV, then into the HDMI port on the smart media player. Most TVs made after 2015 have either an HDMI port or an RCA port.
  • Wi-Fi Connection – Most smart media player devices you’ll be using will require an internet connection to work properly. Although some models may be able to use wired ethernet connections, others require Wi-Fi to fully use all their features. Higher Wi-Fi speeds, though not required, is recommended as streaming videos can take up a lot of bandwidth. It’s also a good idea to get a larger data cap, if not an unlimited data plan, as watching streaming videos will use a lot of data.
  • Smart Media Player Device – The final piece of the smart TV puzzle is a smart media player device. This is the “brain” that you add to your TV to make it “smart capable.” Modern smart TVs can connect to the internet on their own, and these devices have the software to do the same. Think of it as a small computer and your TV as the monitor. Picking a smart media device is sort of like choosing a CPU.

Putting It All Together

Once you have all the requirements, all that’s needed is to bring all the components together. This will begin with plugging the smart media player in the HDMI connection. Different brands will have their own setup instructions, but a lot of them are “plug and play.” Some will require you to create an online account. Know that different devices will have specific set-up instructions for a smart media device, so check the list below.

Choosing Which Smart Media Player to Use

There are a lot of smart media devices on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Some will simply add internet connectivity to your TV, while others will install apps that can be used to stream different kinds of programming. We’ll list several of the most popular ones and how to install them.

Apple TV

As the name implies, the Apple TV is a smart media device manufactured by Apple. It shares many of the qualities of other Apple products like a sleek design and compatibility with a lot of other Apple devices. If you have Apple TV, it can be installed by doing the following:

  1. Locate the HDMI port on your TV. If there are multiple HDMI ports, remember the number of the port you plug into.
  2. Connect the HDMI cable from your TV to the HDMI port on the Apple TV device.
  3. Plug your Apple TV device to the power outlet.
  4. Power your TV on.
  5. Using the Apple TV remote, power on the Apple TV device.
  6. Using your TV’s remote, change the TV input to the HDMI port to which you’ve connected the Apple TV device. For example, if you used Port 2 to connect the device, then change TV input to HDMI 2. Each TV model will have different menu settings, but it can usually be found under “Input” or “Menu” on your remote.
  7. Your screen should display the Apple TV setup menu. Follow the setup instructions as given by your particular Apple TV model.
  8. Once set up, you can use either the Apple TV remote or a connected iOS device to view video on demand (VOD) or streaming programs.

Apple TV

Google Chromecast

One of Google’s smart products, the Chromecast offers a simple plug-and-play alternative to other smart media players. Unlike other brands, some versions of the Chromecast don’t come with their own remote (the newer version of Chromecast does, however). You’ll need another device like a cellphone, tablet, or laptop in order to stream content to the TV through the device. To install the Google Chromecast without a remote, follow these instructions:

  1. Look for your TV’s HDMI port. If there’s more than one, remember the number of the one that you use.
  2. Plug the Chromecast device to your TV’s HDMI port.
  3. Plug in the included USB power cable into the Chromecast device.
  4. Plug in the power adapter to an outlet.
  5. Turn on your TV.
  6. Using your TV’s remote, change the TV input to the appropriate HDMI port.
  7. On the device that you wish to use to control your Chromecast, install Google Home. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
  8. Open the Google Home app on your device.
  9. Tap on the Devices icon on the upper right corner of the screen. If you’re using an iOS device, you’ll need to tap on “Use without Bluetooth,” then skip setup in order to get to the home screen.
  10. Your Chromecast will now try to detect your device. Once detected, tap on “Continue” on your mobile device.
  11. Your TV will display a code. Confirm that the codes displayed are the same on both the TV and on your mobile device.
  12. Tap on “Continue” on your mobile.
  13. Select the Wi-Fi network that you’re using.
  14. Wait for your Chromecast to update. Once done, you can now use your TV to watch streaming videos and VOD’s.

Amazon Firestick

The Firestick is Amazon’s entry into the streaming device arena, and it is one of the more popular devices available. It’s a lot cheaper than Apple TV, and comes with its own remote, unlike some versions of the Google Chromecast. A majority of the apps that are available for both Google Chromecast and Apple TV are also available on the Firestick as well. There was a time when Firestick didn’t allow access to HBO Max, but that has since changed.

To install the Amazon Firestick, you can follow these steps:

  1. Find the HDMI port on your TV and remember its port number if there’s more than one.
  2. Plug the Amazon Firestick onto your TV’s HDMI port. If there isn’t enough space for the Firestick to plug in comfortably, use the included HDMI extension cable to connect the two.
  3. Plug the power cable into the included power adapter. Once connected, plug the power cord to the appropriate slot on the Firestick.
  4. Plug the Firestick adapter into a power outlet.
  5. Power on your TV.
  6. Make sure that your Firestick Remote has batteries, then press on the power button.
  7. Using your TV remote, change the TV input to the proper HDMI port.
  8. When you see the Fire TV logo, press the Firestick remote’s Play/Pause button when prompted in order to pair it with the Firestick device.
  9. The Firestick will ask that you connect to a Wi-Fi network. Confirm the network name and password.
  10. Wait for updates to install, then log in using an Amazon account. If you don’t have one, you can create one on
  11. You can now use your TV to watch streams and VOD’s.


Unlike the other smart media players on the list, the Roku is manufactured by a company that is currently dedicated solely to streaming media. If you have a Roku device, you can install it by doing the following:

  1. Find the HDMI port on your TV. If your TV has more than one, remember the number of the port to which it’s connected.
  2. If you’re using a Roku stick, connect it directly into the HDMI port. If you’re using a Roku box, use an HDMI cable to do the same. Some Roku boxes have an A/V Out plug that will connect to video and audio jacks on the TV. If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, and you have a compatible Roku box, use the A/V plug instead.
  3. If you don’t have enough space to plug in the Roku stick comfortably, you can use a free HDMI extension cable.
  4. If you have a wired internet connection, you can connect an ethernet cable into the Roku device. This is optional.
  5. Connect the included USB power cable to the Roku device, then plug it into an outlet.
  6. Power your TV on, then select the correct HDMI input port.
  7. Make sure that your Roku remote has batteries, then press the power button.
  8. Follow the on-screen setup.
  9. Create a Roku Account. You will need one to activate your Roku device.
  10. You can now use your TV to watch streaming videos and VOD’s

Set-Top Boxes

Unlike the previous choices, a set-top box isn’t exactly a smart media player device. It’s basically a cable box, but manufacturers and cable providers have begun offering ones with more built-in features. A lot of cable companies have partnered with app makers like Netflix, Disney +, or Vevo to include these services and offer their subscribers more features. If you already have a subscription to any of these services, it won’t hurt to inquire if your cable company has this option available.

One big downside to this is that set-top boxes require actual cable engineers to install it. These boxes aren’t available from retailers, and come only from the cable company. This is why this option isn’t as popular as the others.

Not all cable providers have these features available, if you’re interested to know if your cable company does offer them, inquire about Hybrid boxes or IPTV receivers. IPTV refers to TV signals transmitted through an IP network. The IPTV cable box itself is a small computer allowing users to connect to the internet, watch videos on demand, or stream content.

Hybrid boxes also offer these features and more, allowing video calls, surveillance features, and e-programming among others.

Once installed by the cable company, internet, VOD and streaming features can be accessed via the box remote. Refer to the manual that should have been included during installation to find the specific instructions for your brand.

Game Consoles

Modern gaming consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation have the ability to connect to the internet. This connectivity also allows them to stream media directly to your television. Gaming streams like Twitch can be watched on the TV using a gaming console. All that’s needed is for the console be connected to the TV and a Wi-Fi network.

Game Consoles

If you’re using an Xbox, you can install internet media apps like YouTube or Netflix via the Store or Games and Apps on the Xbox Home menu. Once installed, just open an app then proceed to watch internet media.

On PlayStation, these apps are also available via the PlayStation Store. As with the Xbox, just install the apps, then open the once done.

The Nintendo Switch on the other hand only has YouTube available, and doesn’t have a built in internet browser as of yet. It can be installed via the Nintendo eShop on the Home menu. In contrast, the Nintendo Wii has YouTube, Netflix, video call capabilities, internet browsing, and an internet browser. These can also be accessed via the Wii’s Home menu.

In essence, a gaming console turns your TV into a computer monitor, with the gaming console acting as the CPU.

The Advantages of a Smart TV

So with all the options that come with a smart TV, what exactly are the advantages of using one? We’ll list them here so you can judge for yourself if turning your ordinary television into a smart TV is worth your time:

  1. You’re no longer bound by TV program schedules: One of the biggest draws of a smart TV is being able to watch the programs that you want, when you want them. It’s why VOD programming is so popular. Services like YouTube, Spotify and other social media platforms offer free programs for you to watch. Meanwhile, paid services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney + and others have enough content on them to provide hours of entertainment.
  2. Programmability and customizability: Other than being able to choose which TV shows you want to watch, most free and paid apps also come with a playlist option. This means that you can set your TV to play your chosen programs in advance, allowing you to binge on programs for as long as you want. Some apps will also take note of the kinds of shows that you watch and recommend similar programs that might interest you. The amount of customization options may vary according to the smart media player you use.
  3. Device connectivity: Another thing that makes a smart TV handy is that it communicates with a lot of devices that exist in your Wi-Fi network. Cellphones, for example, can be used to control your smart TV’s programming. Smart home application suites like Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant can also integrate with a smart TV to further increasing available features.

Disadvantages of a Smart TV

Like most things, there are also downsides to owning a smart TV. Whether or not these are enough to warrant not getting one depends on each user. We’ll list them here so you can decide for yourself:

  1. Additional costs: Though currently not as expensive as a cable subscription, streaming apps do require monthly payments. If you subscribe to multiple apps, these costs can add up. Although a great deal of programming is available for free, the best ones tend to be behind a paywall.
  2. Large data usage: Watching a streaming video will eat up a large amount of data. A normal Netflix video requires up about one gigabyte of data per hour. Watching a high definition video normally requires up to three gigabytes. Unless you have a large data plan to handle the digital requirements, your enjoyment of streaming services may be limited.
  3. Privacy concerns: People who don’t like their online behavior being tracked may find connecting their TV online concerning. Even free media apps will collect analytics in order to suggest various media. Paid apps will require you to sign up for an account, and everything you watch will be tied to that account. For some people, companies collecting data on their viewing behavior is problematic.

Tips for Buying a New Smart TV

If, instead of turning your old TV into a smart TV, you decide to buy a new one altogether, choosing one from all of the available models can be daunting. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when buying a new smart TV.

  1. Determine your budget: With the number of manufacturers of smart TVs today, you’ll definitely be able to find one that fits your financial needs. Set a budget, then canvass models that will fit into that budget. If some TV models have the same prices, comparing features will determine which is better.
  2. Choose 4K resolution: TVs with 4K resolution are now common enough that their price has become relatively more affordable. There’s a good chance that any TV that has been recently manufactured will be in 4K. This also means that 1080p TV’s, a slightly lower resolution, will be even cheaper. But if you can afford the higher end model, then you should go for it. There are also 8K resolution TVs that are more expensive, but the technology hasn’t been adapted by enough media providers yet to make enough of a difference, when compared to a 4K model.

Tips for Buying a New Smart TV

  1. Size matters: The size of the TV you choose really depends on the space you have available, and the distance you will be sitting away from it. The larger the screen, the further away you can position yourself and still view the picture comfortably. Sizes and recommended distances are as follows:
  1. 65-inch screen – between 2.1 to 2.5 meters.
  2. 50- to 52-inch screen – between 1.7 to 2.2 meters.
  3. 46-inch screen – between 1.5 to 1.9 meters.
  4. 40- to 42-inch screen – between 1.3 to 1.7 meters.
  5. 32-inch screen – about 1.3 meters.

    You can sit further or closer if you want, but that will mean losing picture detail if you sit too far away, or seeing picture noise by being too close. Consider the amount of space you have before deciding what screen size to get.
  1. Available connections and features: Some TV sets will allow you to connect multiple speakers, offer ethernet connectivity, or allow you to connect seamlessly to other devices using Bluetooth. Once you’ve decided on a few models that fit your budget, compare and contrast available features to determine the best of the group.

Tips to Maintain Your Smart TV

Whether you buy a new smart TV or you convert your old TV using a smart media device, there are steps you can do to increase your TV’s lifespan. For newer TVs, this is a way to protect your investment. For old TVs, this is how to extend its life.

  1. Avoid extreme temperatures – Modern TVs won’t tolerate extreme temperatures for too long. Rooms with temperatures of 10° C or below risk damaging the screen and affecting picture quality. Rooms that get too hot may cause the internal electronics to overheat. Try to maintain a balanced room temperature.
  2. Avoid humidity – Humidity wreaks havoc on electronic devices. Water and electricity don’t mix well. Make sure that the room you’re in isn’t too humid. Also, try to keep any liquid away from your TV set to avoid accidental spills and damage.
  3. Don’t use liquids to clean the screen – Never use water or any other liquid directly on the screen to clean your TV, even when the TV is turned off. Instead, spray or wet a microfiber cloth, just to dampen it, then use that to wipe the screen. Some alcohol-based cleaners may cause the screen to crack, so do take care to use special cleaning sprays that are meant to be used on TVs.
  4. Clean your TV regularly: Related to the previous tip, you should try to clean your TV regularly. Dust can build up quicker than you can anticipate and may clog up your TVs air vents, which can lead to overheating. A quick dusting every so often will prevent any lasting damage to your TV.
  5. Turn off your smart TV: One of the most common habits when it comes to streaming programs is letting it run in the background even when you’re not watching it. Though TV lifespans have been calculated to be thousands of hours long, they’re usually based on the premise that the device is at least turned off occasionally. Leaving the TV on constantly can severely decrease its operating lifespan. Turn your TV off when it’s not in use or, if possible, auto-schedule it so that it turns itself off at night when you’re sleeping.
  6. Use a surge protector: This isn’t necessarily limited to just TVs. If your area is prone to power outages or thunderstorms, then getting a surge protector is a must. This will ensure that any sudden power fluctuations don’t fry your TV’s circuits.

Smart TV FAQ

Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions about how to make your TV into a smart T:

What exactly is the difference between a regular TV and a smart TV?

In one word, the difference is connectivity. Smart TVs have the ability to easily connect to the internet in order for you to enjoy content. By using smart media players, you can give TVs that don’t have this feature the ability to connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi network. That’s why even old TV’s can be turned into smart ones.

Can old TV’s turned into smart TV’s be used with smart home applications?

Depending on the type of smart media player device you use, your newly converted smart TV can be integrated into smart home systems like Google Nest or the Apple Home Kit. It’s amazing how simply integrating your TV into the network allows it to interact with other smart devices in your house.

Can old TV’s turned into smart TV’s be used with smart home applications

Can smart TV’s spy on you?

This idea might be popular with conspiracy theorists, but there is a slight chance that a smart TV with a built-in camera can be hacked and used without your knowledge. Most manufacturers and brand owners try to install updated security systems in order to prevent this from happening, but as technology advances at such a quick pace, nothing is one hundred percent secure.

Can I get Netflix free on a smart TV?

Some smart TVs and smart media players come with the Netflix app already pre-installed. This allows you to use the app without having to download it. This doesn’t mean that you can access Netflix content for free, though. You’ll still have to create an account in order for you to log into Netflix, and this means paying a subscription fee after the initial free trial.

A Leap in Entertainment Technology

Enjoying streaming videos and videos on demand is a great leap in entertainment technology. The ability to pick and choose what you want to watch has been advanced by the popularity of smart TVs. Knowing how to use a smart TV or convert your TV into a smart TV allows you to enjoy these features.

Do you know of other ways to make your TV into a smart TV? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.