Following my last write up about making a decision on purchasing a MiFi someone requested me to write something about Smart TVs.
The term Smart TV simply refers to a TV which can connect to the internet. One of the most important thing to understand here is the difference between a Smart TV and Android TV.
A smart TV uses an operating system from the manufacturer while an Android TV uses the popular Android TV operating system from Google. Those who bought the first generation Safaricom TV box will understand this better. While that TV Box had internet connectivity it had no Android operating system. I recently installed an android App on it and it couldn’t work properly.
Thus, a Smart TV comes with Apps installed by the manufacturer and ability to install more apps can be limited. On the other hand, an Android TV comes with the Google Playstore hence you can install many Apps. An android TV is also easier to update than a Smart TV. Your Smart TV software could become obsolete over time.
You also need to understand that the Android TV operating system is different from the Android mobile system. This distinction is important because if you are planning to turn your TV into a smart TV by buying an Android TV box/decoder then you have to be careful.
You have to ensure that the Android box has Android TV system which is optimised for large screen and not the Android mobile system which is for smaller screens.
Another benefit of Android TV is Bluetooth connectivity.
The other question is how can you turn your TV into a Smart/Internet TV without buying a new one?
1. Connecting to a computer – if you have a computer and your TV has a HDMI port, then you can easily connect to your computer provided that your computer has a HDMI port as well. This will allow your TV to connect to the internet since it will be displaying the content on your computer. Besides, it will allow you to play content from your computer. This is the set up I use.
2. Android TV Box – this is a decoder which has internet connection capacity mostly via WiFi. This setup is similar to how you connect a non-digital TV to a a TV Set Top Box/decoder to access digital content. It is worth noting that these Android TV Boxes do not come with the digital TV free to air channels. However, Safaricom has a Digital TV and Internet TV Box but it is quite pricey at KShs 10,000 compared with Android boxes which cost around KShs 5,000. On how to choose an Android TV Box that can only be a topic for another post.
3. Casting or mirroring – casting means making the content playing on one device to also play on another device. For instance, you can be watching a movie on your phone and want it to display on your TV. For you to cast, you need to buy a casting device for your TV such as Google Chromecast.
4. Android TV Stick – this is a device that works like Android TV box but is in form of a dongle (looks like the modems of old but with HDMI port). You connect it to your TV using HDMI and power it using USB. A part from appearance one difference between TV stick and Box is that the stick can only connect to internet via WiFi while the box can also connect through a wire connected to your router.
The bottom line about all these connecting methods is that your TV needs a HDMI port. If it doesn’t, then you could be out of luck unless you can use a converter cable.
If you want a smart TV in Kenya,click on this link to buy one from Jumia