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Turn your TV into a smart TV

Smart TVs let you watch streaming services like Netflix, NOW and Disney Plus directly on your TV without any extra cables or devices required.
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Family doing yoga on a smart TV

The vast majority of new TVs sold nowadays are smart, which means you can connect them to your Wi-Fi and stream TV shows and movies, 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 of the best entertainment options available. This includes the wealth of award-winning content on streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video.

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But don’t worry, you can still stream this great content with the help of a device or two. Here’s how you can make your TV into a smart TV.

Streaming sticks and internet TV boxes

Usually, the cheapest way to make your TV a smart TV is by buying a streaming stick. There's a range of standalone streaming devices that give you access to the streaming service or catch-up app.

These devices will make your TV smart, but only through the apps you use on the device itself. Also, be sure to check which services are accessible as some streaming devices come with different apps.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon fire TV stickl

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

  • Disney Plus

  • YouTube

  • Vevo

  • hayu

  • Catch-up TV apps like BBC iPlayer

There are currently around 5,000 apps you can download, including games, media players and other services.

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NOW TV stick

The NOW TV stick has been discontinued, but if you still have the device you can use it to access plenty of other apps in addition to NOW.

Apps include:

  • NOW

  • YouTube

  • Spotify

  • Catch-up TV apps

Read our full NOW TV stick review for more details.

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Apple TV

Apple TV is a streaming 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 Plus

  • Netflix

  • NOW

  • YouTube

  • Disney Plus

  • 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 with Google TV

The Google Chromecast with Google TV is fairly similar to the Fire TV Stick in that it plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and connects to the internet wirelessly.

The latest version of the Google Chromecast has an intuitive interface and allows you to access all your streaming platforms from a single screen.

These include:

  • Netflix

  • NOW

  • 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.

Read our full Google Chromecast review to find out more.

Roku

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

Apps include:

  • Netflix

  • NOW

  • 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

  • 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.

Set-top boxes

Nowadays, pretty much every set-top box gives you access to players and apps which let you stream content to your TV 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.

Sky Q

sky q set-top box

Sky's collaboration with services like Netflix and Disney Plus means that you're able to watch content from multiple services all directly through your Sky Q box. If you sign up for the Sky TV & Netflix package, you can browse and stream content from Sky and Netflix all from the same interface.

Apps include:

  • YouTube

  • Vevo

  • Netflix

  • Disney Plus

Compare Uswitch's top Sky TV deals:

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BT YouView Box

bt youview box

Apps include:

  • Netflix

  • Amazon Prime Video

  • Disney Plus

  • BT TV Store

  • NOW

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 Plus

  • Disney Plus

  • BT Sport

  • BBC iPlayer

  • ITV Hub

  • All 4

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NOW

NOW TV stick

Apps include:

  • NOW

  • YouTube

  • Spotify

  • Netflix

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TalkTalk YouView

talktalk-TV-With-Remote

Apps include:

  • Netflix

  • NOW

  • Amazon Prime Video

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Virgin Media Stream

Virgin Media Stream

Apps include:

  • Netflix

  • Disney Plus

  • BT Sport

  • Amazon Prime Video

  • BBC iPlayer

  • ITV Hub

  • YouTube

  • Vevo

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Cheap TV boxes

Before you purchase a cheap TV box online, be sure to check its compatibility with your TV or streaming service. If you subscribe to channels from Sky or BT, it's unlikely that any other internet TV box will work apart from their own-branded ones.

Streaming TV on games consoles

Most modern game consoles have the capability to connect to the internet and stream different players and apps. Netflix and catch-up TV are available on the following devices; however, not all consoles support all streaming services:

  • PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5

  • Wii and Wii U

  • Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Streaming TV on PS5

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You can use your PlayStation console for so much more than just gaming, streaming all sorts of entertainment from movies and TV shows to live streams.

The PS5 has a dedicated space exclusively for media entertainment, meaning you won't have to download specific apps from the PS Store. Located right next to the Game home screen, you can easily switch between Game or Media content without the need to navigate through each app.

What's more, the PS5 comes with a media remote, so you don't have to use your controller to scroll through content. You can control playback, change the volume and power setting on compatible TVs, and there are even launch buttons for specific apps such as Disney Plus, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube.

Read our full PlayStation 5 review to learn about all the other features of Sony's latest gaming console.

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 devices directly to 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, for example, won't let you connect your iPad directly to your TV to watch box sets.

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