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Turn Your Regular TV into a Smart TV: 7 Best Devices

Upgrading to a smart TV can bring a world of entertainment and apps to your living room. But buying a whole new TV is an expensive endeavor. Luckily, there are many clever devices that can convert your existing "dumb" TV into a smart one for a fraction of the cost.

In this guide, we‘ll compare the top options for adding smart capabilities to standard TVs. Whether you want access to more streaming content or smart home controls, these handy gadgets can give new life to older televisions.

Key Factors For Choosing a Smart TV Device

Before deciding on a device to make your TV smarter, consider the following:

Your Current TV Setup – Do you need 4K or HDR support? How many HDMI ports does your TV have available? This will determine compatibility.

Internet Connectivity – All these devices require WiFi. Check if your signal strength is robust near the TV. Some support ethernet too.

Streaming Services – Do you subscribe to services like Netflix or Hulu? Prioritize devices that offer apps for the ones you use.

Interface – Pick an intuitive, easy-to-use interface so anyone in your home can enjoy the new features.

Cost – Prices range from $20 budget sticks to $179 premium boxes. Set a budget before choosing.

7 Best Devices to Convert a Regular TV to Smart

Based on the above factors – plus ease of setup, app selection, and extra features – here are our top recommendations:

1. Fire TV Stick 4K

🚀 Streams 4K/HDR content

🎮 Compatible with Alexa & gaming controllers
đŸ“ē Supports major streaming apps

💰 Affordable price point

⚠ī¸ Can struggle with older TVs
🔌 Needs external power source

Amazon‘s Fire TV Stick 4K is a compact yet powerful device, delivering Ultra HD streaming and support for Dolby Vision. The Alexa voice remote makes searching for content a breeze. At under $50, it brings excellent value too.

2. Roku Streaming Stick+

✅ Very simple to set up

đŸŽĨ Streams HD & 4K video
🚀 Excellent wireless performance
🎮 Supports Roku gaming channel

❌ Lacks Dolby Vision HDR
đŸ“ļ Not compatible with older WiFi

It‘s no surprise the Roku Streaming Stick+ makes the list. The small HDMI dongle offers an absurd amount of streaming content through Roku‘s platform, while delivering superb streaming quality. The dead-simple interface makes navigating a pleasure too.

3. Chromecast with Google TV


đŸ“ē Integrates streaming services

đŸŽĨ Streams 4K video w/ Dolby Vision
🎮 Plays Google Stadia games
🔍 Powerful voice search

đŸĒ™ Pricier than competitors
👎 Clunky remote design

For those invested in Google‘s ecosystem, the aptly-named Chromecast with Google TV hits the mark. It centralizes streaming apps under Google‘s umbrella with personalized recommendations based on your viewing history. With Chromecast technology built-in, you can also cast content from mobile devices.

4. Apple TV 4K


🤝 Siri integration
đŸ–ŧī¸ Stunning visual quality

🕹ī¸ Access to Apple Arcade
đŸ‘Ē Great for sharing photos/videos
💸 It‘s very expensive

😠 Siri remote is polarizing

Apple fans can utilize their existing iTunes libraries and Apple device connectivity with the Apple TV 4K. The powerful media box streams immaculate 4K HDR video. Integrated deeply with iOS devices and Siri voice control, it offers unmatched integration – albeit at a lofty price.

5. NVIDIA Shield TV Pro


⚡ Extremely fast interface

🕹ī¸ Plays Android games locally
🎛ī¸ Support for customization

đŸŽļ Built-in Google Assistant
📉 Expensive for streaming alone

🤔 Advanced features can confuse

Tailored more for die-hard Android fans and gamers, the beefy NVIDIA Shield TV Pro leverages the company‘s gaming GPU pedigree for silky-smooth performance. With Google Assistant and smart home support onboard, it aims to be an all-in-one streaming/smart home box – albeit with a heftier cost.

6. TiVo Stream 4K

💎 Integrates live TV & streaming

😀 Intuitive interface

🔊 Advanced audio features

❓ Fewer app options
💲 Expensive subscription model

Best for cord-cutters, TiVo‘s aptly-named Stream 4K brings live TV from services like Sling alongside popular streaming apps with content-first discovery. Unique audio features like adjustable dialogue boosting provide an edge too. But the monthly fee makes it less attractive for streaming alone.

7. PlayStation 5


đŸ¤¯ Stunning visuals

âšŊī¸ Doubles as gaming console

🎮 PS5-exclusive games

đŸ’Ŧ PS5 remote optional

🙅‍♂ī¸ Low availability

🔋 Massive electricity draw

It may seem unorthodox, but the PlayStation 5‘s powerful media capabilities earn it a spot on this list. With support for 4K/120FPS video and spatial audio, media looks and sounds incredible. You also get access to exclusive PS5 games. Just be prepared to handle the huge electricity demands and good luck finding one in stock!

Get More Out Of Your TV Without Upgrading

If the thought of buying a whole new smart TV doesn‘t excite you, use one of these clever gadgets to upgrade affordably instead. With such outstanding smart interfaces and streaming capabilities packed into HDMI sticks and boxes, enjoying new media features requires only a few plugs.

For most, the Fire TV Stick 4K or Roku Streaming Stick+ provide the right balance of apps, streaming quality, and ease-of-use without much setup. Die-hard fans of Apple, Google or gaming can opt for tailored experiences too.

Whatever you choose, converting an existing "dumb" TV ultimately comes down to convenience and costs peanuts compared to purchasing the latest smart TV. Give your old faithful display new tricks without digging deep into your wallet!