Even if your TV isn't "smart," you can easily convert it to a smart TV without paying an arm and a leg. By connecting a streaming device or gaming console to your normal TV's HDMI port, you can connect your TV to the internet, fire up your favorite streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu, and watch what you want, when you want! We'll show you the best options for making just about any regular TV a smart TV.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
If you’re an Amazon Prime Subscriber, opt for a Fire TV device.
These affordable streaming devices work seamlessly with your Prime subscription, plug right into your HDMI port, and have a familiar interface linked to your Amazon account. The Fire TV Stick Lite is the cheapest option, while the Fire TV Cube is a premium option that is entirely voice-operated. You can watch all of the major streaming services on your non-smart TV with a Fire TV device, including Prime Video (obviously), Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Peacock.
- All Fire TV devices allow you to cast content from your Android or Google Chrome web browser.
One of the pioneers in streaming TV, Roku has a device for everyone.
Roku is one of the most accessible options for converting a regular TV to a smart TV, as they have affordable, easy-to-use products. All Roku streaming devices support Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Peacock, and just about every other streaming service you can think of.
- Roku Express and Express 4k+ are simple and affordable streaming devices for any TV. If you have a wall-mounted TV, you may want to opt for the Roku Streaming Stick or Streaming Stick 4K+ due to its design. Roku Ultra and Streambar are premium devices with added features.
- Roku also supports AirPlay, which means that if you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can mirror your screen to your TV wirelessly. It’s the only portable streaming device that supports AirPlay—the rest support Chromecast technology instead.
Apple’s streaming device, Apple TV, is not a TV at all.
It’s an HDMI device that plugs into any TV, including regular, non-smart TVs, and turns them into internet-capable streaming devices. If you have a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or any other Apple device, the interface will be familiar to you, and you can even sign in with your Apple ID. All major streaming channels are available on Apple TV, including Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu.
- Apple TV also supports AirPlay, which means you can also use it to stream apps and mirror your screen from a Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Apple TV and Roku are the only streaming devices that support AirPlay.
Chromecast with Google TV
The latest Chromecast is a fully-functional streaming device.
While earlier Chromecasts only allowed you to stream movies, shows, and other content from an Android or the Chrome web browser, the new Chromecast has Google TV built in. Google TV is what will take your normal TV to the smart level, with its support for all major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max, and its full-featured Play Store with hundreds of other apps you can install.
- The classic Chromecast devices, including the third-generation Chromecast, don’t have remote controls or special interfaces that look like smart TVs. They are just for casting content from other devices.
All modern Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles double as TV streaming devices.
You can watch Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, YouTube, Apple TV+, and more on many Xbox and PlayStation models without the need for a dedicated smart TV.
- Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X are all great replacements for smart TVs. Xbox 360 also supports many streaming channels, but fewer app downloads are available now that the console is much older.
- PS5, PS4, and PS3 all have streaming capabilities and support most major streaming services.
Your cable or satellite provider may have streaming options.
Many modern TV providers offer set-top boxes that combine your traditional live TV channels with a full-featured smart streaming device. These boxes will take a normal TV and convert it to a smart one by adding downloadable apps, internet access, and the ability to cast shows and movies wirelessly from your computer or mobile device.
- Xfinity X1 combines live cable TV with smart TV streaming capabilities, and is widely available across the US.
- Atlantic Broadband offers a TiVo HD receivers and DVRs that all combine traditional cable TV services with all streaming apps supported by TiVo.
- DISH Network offers different streaming devices—some with DVRs for recording live TV, and some without, all of which can get online and support most popular streaming services.
Many modern Blu-ray players double as smart TV streaming devices.
If you love playing your Blu-ray discs as much as you love streaming Netflix, check out smart Blu-ray players made by LG, Magnavox, Philips, Sony, and Toshiba.
NVIDIA Shield TV
If you’re into cloud gaming, don’t pass up the NVIDIA Shield.
This premium device turns any TV into a smart TV, and also has the ability to stream games to your GeForce-powered PC. The Shield comes pre-installed with Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Plex, Google Play Movies, and the NVIDIA Games app. And because Shield is powered by Android TV, you can install any other streaming service that’s available in the Play Store, including Hulu, Disney+, and Apple TV+.
- Like most other streaming devices, you can also use Chromecast technology to cast apps from your Android or content from Chrome to your TV with Shield TV.
TiVo offers several streaming device options for any TV.
TiVo Stream 4K is the most affordable option and standard, with high-quality streaming from over 5000 apps including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max. If you want a DVR to record live TV, try the TiVo Edge for antenna and cable services, and the TiVo Mini LUX, which expands the TiVo Edge to other rooms in your home.
- Newer TiVo models support Chromecast, which means you can cast content from your Android or Google Chrome web browser to your TV with TiVo.
Facebook’s Portal TV combines top streaming apps with video calling on your biggest screen.
This streaming device plugs right into your HDMI port and supports Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Paramount+, Netflix, Showtime, and Sling TV. This is a great option if you want to do a lot of video calling on your TV, as it has a built-in HD camera. You can even watch Facebook Watch videos live with your friends, as well as use services like Workplace for Facebook and Zoom to collaborate from the comfort of your couch.
- In a pinch, you can always connect your Windows or Mac computer to your TV.
- Old TVs that only have A/V cable hook-ups (e.g., the red, yellow, and white cables) cannot be converted into smart TVs.
- Old TVs that have only a coaxial input (the port that you connect your tv cable to) cannot be converted into smart TVs.