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Here’s how to make your current TV a smart TV

To me, TV entertainment has always been sacred. It all started back in 1993 when our family became proud owners of a black and white Peacock Television Set.

It wasn’t always easy, buying a TV was a punter’s move; you were betting you could get reception. In the rugged mountains of Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, there is no guaranteed reception even today.

After a week of fumbling with giant antennae of various makes and sizes, we finally got it working without the ghostly shadows that still haunt those brave enough to deal with the world of analogue TV even today. It was the magic of the Philips nine-bar antenna that finally did it.

Thus began a long established friendship with Television. I watch everything from sports, movies, TV Shows and Documentaries. I will never watch “reality” TV shows, soapies or telenovelas.

It can, however, be a little overwhelming to keep track of all those TV Show episodes or Movies that I have watched and sometimes I need to keep track of my email in betwixt the binge watching as well. This is where MultiChoice fans will tell me to get the Explora.

That will never work for me. First I like to keep control of my media files without having to pay some giant corporation a monthly fee.

I also want to know exactly what picture quality I am getting without wondering what HD they are talking about. I like to tinker with my operating systems so that they work for me, not the other way round. I am not going to buy the Explora.

Enter the smart TV option

Buying a smart TV seems to be the logical solution then. The cheapest smart TV I know is this Telefunken and I am never going to put this piece of crap in my living room.

Like most Zimbabweans, I cannot afford a real smart TV without calling on my clan to chip in. (Which they should considering how many of them visit me just to watch my TV).

Buying an expensive smart TV will not just create a gaping hole in your budget- if you can afford it at all- it comes with its own problems.

A lot of the TV vendors have their own proprietary operating systems running on these TVs. Also, the specs for most TVs are rather disappointing considering what you are paying. 512 MB of RAM?..

Sometimes the TV vendor may not even provide you with the necessary software upgrade. Also, chances are that you already have a TV that you already like even though it might not be smart.

Making your current TV smart

  • All you have to do is buy an Android TV box, most online retailers sell these. Including and Aliexpress
  • These come with decent specs at affordable prices. Most of these have more recent versions of Android and come with pre-loaded with popular apps such as NetFlix and retail at prices less than $100.
  • Choose a device with H.265 (HEVC) support.
  • Order your device and choose a shipping method of your choice. Remember expedited shipping will also require you to pay clearing fees at the Airport and in my experience, their duty calculations are higher than when you choose the Post Office. So I would recommend that you be patient and choose free shipping.
  • The devices come with HDMI (and sometimes AV cables for use with your very old TV which you should be throwing away) which you can use to connect to your TV.
  • Finish the connection, boot your device and voila, you have a smart TV.
  • You can install/update all manner of media apps like Kodi, YouTube
  • You can also use VPN to protect yourself on the internet.

NB I am a fan of Kodi, which is an extensible FOSS PVR and Video playback software. Kodi is good, clean and does it’s job well.

Beware, however, of vendors that claim to sell pre-loaded TV boxes with Kodi extensions that allow you to stream TV shows and Movies for free as these are illegal and likely contain all manner of malware.

Image Credit: LG

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6 thoughts on “Here’s how to make your current TV a smart TV

  1. very good eye opener there but my question now is How mu chapter internet is required to run in that android box inorder to watch those channels and what not since I will be workingbon a budget by keeping my old TV considering that internet connectivity is also expensive especially when it comes to streaming videos, one would need uncapped data

    1. To stream content you need an internet connection. You can connect the box to your DSTV decoder using an HDMI cable and have your own PVR decoder; this (the PVR part) might/might not be illegal so use at own risk. You can watch ripped DVDs and Music on the device. Use your Computer as NAS …

  2. Just to ask.If you add your monthly subscription and your internet subscription,On average how much do you pay per month.Lets assume you watch TV maybe 3 hours a day?.Just trying to run the comparison with DSTV’s most expensive option.

    1. For most tech people internet is an unavoidable cost. You have raised an interesting issue which I will explain in my next article. VoD is usually cheaper.

  3. Or just buy a plug and play Chromecast dongle if you have a HDMI connection on your TV and cast everything from your mobile device.

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