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Turn your TV into a smart TV

Turn your TV into a smart TV

Smart TVs let you watch Netflix and other streaming services directly on your TV without any extra cables or devices needed.

The majority of new TVs sold are smart TVs, enabling you to connect to the internet in order to stream media, browse the web, or run apps all without the need for an additional device. However, if you’re holding on to an older TV, you could be missing out on some great added features that can seriously upgrade your entertainment options. But don’t worry, you can still get the same functionality with the help of a device or two. Here’s how you can make your TV into a smart TV.

Set-top boxes

Nowadays, pretty much every set-top box gives you access to players and apps so you can stream content to your telly on demand. Catch-up services like iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 are standard nowadays, but the other apps included on your set-top box depend on your provider.

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BT YouView Box

BT Set top box

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • BT TV Store
  • NOW TV Compare Uswitch's top BT deals

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EE's Apple TV 4K

ee apple tv 4k top view

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Apple TV+
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • ITV Hub
  • All 4

NOW TV

now tv stick

Apps include:

  • NOW TV
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Netflix

Sky Q

sky q

Apps include:

  • YouTube
  • Vevo
  • Netflix
  • Disney+

TalkTalk YouView

talktalk tv set top box

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • NOW TV
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • TalkTalk TV Store

Virgin Media TV box

Virgin TV V6 box

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • YouTube
  • Vevo

Streaming devices

You can also buy standalone streaming devices to get access to the service of your choice. However, be sure to check which services are accessible as each streaming device comes with different apps.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

firestick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a small device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and connects to the internet via your Wi-Fi connection.

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Vevo
  • hayu
  • Catch-up TV apps

Currently there are nearly 5,000 apps you can download, including games, media players and other services.

Apple TV

Apple TV is a streaming set-top box that you plug into your TV and connect to the Wi-Fi so you can access streaming content and other apps.

Apps include:

  • Apple TV+
  • Netflix
  • NOW TV
  • YouTube
  • Disney+
  • Spotify
  • Vevo
  • Catch-up TV apps

Apple TV is linked to your Apple ID, so you can download plenty of music, movies and games through the iTunes store in addition to other apps.

Google Chromecast

chromecast

Google’s Chromecast — similar to the Fire TV Stick — plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and connects to the internet wirelessly.

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • NOW TV
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • hayu
  • Vevo
  • Catch-up TV apps

Chromecast also has lots of other apps you can use, ranging from games and sports to health and fitness apps.

NOW TV stick

now tv stick

Although the main feature of NOW TV sticks are so you can view NOW TV passes, there are plenty of other apps included too.

Apps include:

  • NOW TV
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Catch-up TV apps

Roku

You can either get a Roku box or streaming stick, either of which plug directly into your HDMI port and connect to Wi-Fi.

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • NOW TV
  • Amazon Prime
  • Spotify
  • Catch-up TV apps

Roku has over 2,000 ‘channels’ or apps that you can watch, listen to or play.

YouView

As mentioned above, YouView makes set-top boxes for TalkTalk and BT, but they also sell standalone boxes that support Freeview channels and players and apps.

Apps include:

  • Netflix
  • NOW TV
  • Catch-up TV
  • Other ways to stream
  • Couple watching smart TV

If you don’t want to switch providers or buy a dedicated streaming device, you still might be able to access your favourite players and apps on your TV through another device you already own.

Games consoles

Most modern games consoles have the capability to connect to the internet and stream different players and apps, including:

  • PS3 and PS4
  • Wii and Wii U
  • Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Netflix and catch-up TV are available on all of the above devices; however, not all consoles support all streaming services.

Blu-ray players

Similarly, Blu-ray players can connect to the internet, so most have streaming apps already built into them. Again, Netflix is the most common, but some devices also support NOW TV, too.

Connecting devices to your TV

Alternatively, you can always connect your laptop, computer, tablet or other device directly into your TV with an HDMI cable, as long as your device supports that capability.

Even going through this route, however, not every streaming service supports this ability: NOW TV, for example, won't let you connect your iPad directly to your TV to watch box sets.

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