Turn an ordinary TV into smart It is possible, easy and fits in every type of pocket. Regardless of the device chosen to make the conversion, it is necessary that the TV has an HDMI input and, preferably, the house has a secure Wi-Fi network.
Among the options for streaming there are the dongles. They are light and small and may even look like a USB stick, but allow you to see the favorite apps of the moment on TV. Set-top boxes, like Apple TV, are another viable alternative, as are more modern video games.
AppGeek lists the best devices to turn an ordinary TV into a smart TV. Watch Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime and more directly from the big screen.
Dongles are devices capable of adding extra functions to a device to which it connects. The first models were very similar to pendrives, which means that they are light and hardly take up space.
The connection to the TV is made through an HDMI port, so it is necessary that the TV has this input. Integration with the smartphone (or computer) is already done via the Wi-Fi network, to which both must be connected.
Depending on the model, the cell phone or PC is used only as a remote control or simply as the 'brain' of the device. Below we separate the best dongle options on the market.
The Chromecast is a streaming device manufactured by Google, which allows you to mirror the notebook, Android or iOS devices on the TV. The most current version sold in Brazil is the Chromecast 3.
Launched in 2018, it is available in black and white colors and weighs only 40g. Offers 1080p image resolution at 60fps (acronym for frames per second) and connectivity with Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz). In terms of ports, it has an HDMI output and a microUSB input for charging.
These devices do not have their own operating system and mirror the phone or PC screen on the TV. Everything done on them will be seen on the big screen. On the smartphone, the apps are downloaded from the app stores and run on the device itself, being only transmitted to the TV.
Some apps are compatible with the technology and allow you to use your mobile device normally while the content of the app is displayed on television. On the computer, mirroring is done through Chrome.
When accessing certain sites, such as YouTube, just tap on the three dots icon in the upper right corner of the browser. Then, click cast and select Chromecast as the source.
Chromecast is compatible with Android 5.0 and above or iOS 11.0 or later. Computers must already be equipped with at least Mac OS 10.9 with a Chrome browser, Windows 7 or Chrome OS.
For smartphones or tablets, it is necessary to download the Google Home app to perform the integration.
The launch price of the Chromecast 3 in Brazil was R $ 349.00.
To find out the best Chromecast and more about the device, check out our guide Understand how Chromecast works and make your TV smart.
Fire Stick TV
Fire Stick TV is the Amazon dongle and works differently than Chromecast. The Basic Edition model, available in Brazil, has its own operating system based on Android, the Fire OS. The commands are made by a remote control that comes with the device.
Launched in 2017, it weighs 32g and the control, 56.9g (with batteries included). It offers 720p and 1080p quality images at up to 60 fps (acronym for frames per second) and two Wi-Fi antennas compatible with 2×2 MIMO 802.11a / b / g / n / ac technology.
With regard to performance, the device has 8 GB of internal storage, geared to the operating system. There is also 1 GB of memory for running applications and games.
Apps and games must be downloaded from the Amazon store, and it is not possible to use programs from other sources. But, according to the manufacturer, more than 4,000 application options are available. Sites can also be accessed by the stick, through the Firefox and Silk browsers.
The hardware also has MediaTek Quad-core ARM 1.3 GHz, HDMI output, micro USB input for recharging and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. To use, simply connect the HDMI port to the TV, turn on the controller and connect the device to your wireless internet network.
According to Amazon, it is also possible to use Fire Stick TV to mirror the screen of Android 4.2 or higher devices. For that, I need that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and are kept at a distance of less than 10m.
The launch price of Fire Stick TV Basic Edition in Brazil was R $ 289.00.
Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter
Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is a device that uses Wi-Fi Miracast technology to mirror tablets and computers running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 on television. To use it, it is necessary to connect it to the HDMI and USB inputs of the TV at the same time and be at a maximum distance of 7 meters.
Then, just connect the device you want to the adapter's Wi-Fi network and transmit the content to the TV. This means that it is not necessary to have internet access to transmit the content. If you have, for example, saved movies and series to watch offline on Netflix, you can do it smoothly.
As you may have noticed, the device is not compatible with Android devices. However, it is possible to transmit the screen of mobile phones with the operating system to the computer. But the process is a kind of digital "gambiarra".
For this, the Continnum application must be downloaded on Windows 10 PCs. Then, the smartphone must be synchronized with the computer program, which will reproduce the mobile screen. In this case, the adapter will transmit the reproduction of the cell phone screen on the PC to the TV.
Integration with Continnum also allows you to use your smartphone as a trackpad for your computer. The function can be very useful for slide shows and to control the PC on the TV from a distance.
The disadvantage of the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter is that it does not allow you to use your cell phone or computer normally during mirroring. That is, it is not possible to stream a movie on Netflix by cell phone and talk to WhatsApp.
In addition to interrupting playback, the conversation is displayed on the big screen. As well as all the content visible on the display. However, for those who need to replicate on a larger screen all the content of the notebook and not just the browser, this may be a good option.
The launch price of the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter in Brazil was R $ 349.00.
Anycast is a dongle whose look is clearly inspired by the first version of Chromecast. The device was widely used on popular e-commerce sites, such as AliExpress and Gearbest, and thus became known in Brazil. The AnyCast M2 Plus is the most popular model of the brand.
However, the operating mode is more like the Wireless Display Adapter. It has built-in 802.11n (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi, which means that it is not necessary to connect to the internet to perform mirroring.
The compatibility, however, is much wider than that offered by the Microsoft device. The device supports devices compatible with Miracast and Airplay wireless communication technologies. This means that you can mirror the screen of devices with Android, iOS, Mac OS and Window 8.1 and 10 systems (with the program Continnum).
It also has DLNA technology, present in some televisions, Blu-Ray players and other devices. Through it, it is possible to create a home network to carry out content transmission.
The 18g device promises 1080p image resolution at 60 and 30fps and 720p at 60. As it only allows the screen to be mirrored, it does not allow the use of other apps or programs without interfering with the displayed content.
The value of Anycast varies widely in online stores, but without a doubt, the most economical option on our list.
In general, the function of set-top boxes is the same as that of dongles: to transform an ordinary TV into a smart TV. However, the way they work varies slightly. In general, they are composed of a decoder and a remote control, but they can also be controlled by the cell phone.
Unlike most dongles, they do not mirror the screen, but transmit content from the device itself. This leaves the smartphone free to use while watching a series or video on TV.
These devices have their own operating system, processor, memory and storage. The connection to the TV, in general, is also made via the HDMI port. Wi-Fi access is required to run Internet-based apps, such as those for streaming or sharing photos and videos.
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Apple TV is probably the most famous and desired set-top box on the market. Launched in 2019, the new edition of Apple TV 4K is the most robust version of the device. It allows the reproduction of content with 2160p quality at 60 fps, called by the company 4K HDR.
There are two storage options available: 32GB or 64GB. Both are equipped with A10X Fusion processor with 64-bit architecture, 3GB RAM and WiFi 802.11ac connectivity with MIMO technology (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).
The internet connection can also be made via Ethernet. The connection to the TV is made via HDMI cable. The box weighs 495g and the control does not reach 50g. If you prefer, you can carry out the commands via your own iPhone, via AirPlay 2 technology.
In addition to the typical streaming apps, Apple TV is also compatible with several games available on the App Store and the Apple Arcade service. The decoder is compatible with Bluetooth 5.0, which allows the user to play using the PlayStation DualShock 4 controls, or wirelessly for Xbox.
It is worth mentioning that only TVs with 4K technology are capable of transmitting content with this resolution. In addition, it is essential to have internet with a good bandwidth. Otherwise, movie streams and series will run slowly or hang when configured for this quality.
The cheapest model of the Apple TV 4K has a launch price of R $ 1299.00.
Mi Box (Android TV)
Unlike Apple TV, Android TV does not refer to a device. But, yes, to the Android-based operating system developed especially for streaming devices and smart TVs.
Just like Android for smartphones, the software is used in set-top boxes of different brands, with configurations that vary. Mi Box, from Xiaomi, is one of the most desired devices on the market, due to the good relationship between price and quality.
The decoder is compatible with 4K resolution at 60fps and compatible with voice command via Bluetooth. equipped with Android TV 6.0, 2.0GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor and dedicated Mali 450 750MHz video processor.
For impeccable performance, it stands out for having 2GB of DDR3 RAM memory plus 8GB of eMMC flash memory. Need to increase the capacity of the device? just save what you need to a USB stick via the USB port. In terms of connectivity, it has Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac (2.4GHz / 5GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0 and 3.
The connection to the TV is made through an HDMI2.0a port, which ensures a transmission speed of 18Gbps.
The Mi Box weighs only 176 g and its apps and games can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Its value varies a lot on e-commerce sites, but on the brand's official page on AliExpress you can find it for around US $ 60 (about R $ 300.00).
The most modern video games, like the PS4 and XBox One, are practically computers connected to your TV. It is very likely that those who own these devices will play online games and, therefore, know that they offer connectivity to Wi-Fi networks.
To make the dream of smart TV a little closer, both allow you to download apps from their app stores that don't necessarily have to do with the video game universe.
Among them are YouTube, NetFlix, Amazon Prime Videos and more. The number of programs available varies depending on the platform. But it can be enough for those who do not want to invest in a TV with internet connection and want to enjoy the main video streaming apps.
To do so, simply download the desired application and, depending on the case, have an account and / or subscription to the services. The disadvantage that while watching a movie or series, for example, no one can play a game of Fortnite, GTA or FIFA.