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Planning to buy smart TV? Wait. You can instead convert your existing set into a web-enabled entertainment centre by just spending a few thousands of rupees.
Portable media players
If you’re looking to spend less than you may consider an ultra-portable media player. The thumb-sized sticks, which resemble USB pen drives, are capable of streaming content – pictures, music, videos – wirelessly from a PC, smartphone or tablet to your TV screen (provided you have a Wi-Fi router set up at home).
There are quite a few brands available in the market, but you can opt for the known companies. Google’s Chromecast (Rs 3,999) is available online and it’s also easy to use.
Plug in the device into the free HDMI port on your television. Chromecast has a microUSB port which needs to be connected to a free USB port on the TV (or an alternative source) to power itself. Then, switch to that HDMI source (using the TV remote) and follow the set up instructions to connect to the existing Wi-Fi network in your home. Next, install the Chromecast app on your mobile device or PC/laptop and connect to the same wireless network. Run the app and follow the instructions to link the device to the adapter.
After the process is complete, you will be able to ‘throw’ Full HD videos from YouTube onto your television screen. However, if you have subscribed to local VoD services like BigFlix, BoxTV, Spuul, NexGTv, you can stream their shows to your big screen. For this, you need to install the Google Cast extension in your Chrome browser which will let you send the tab you are currently watching to your TV.
There are quite a few free (and premium) mobile apps like EZCast, LocalCast and RealPlayer Cloud that let you stream personal content from your own smartphone and tablet.
Box-type media players
Chromecast is the simplest and the cheapest way to Wi-Fi-enable your television , it does not come with any internal memory or expandable memory slot to store any data.
For a complete solution, you can opt for a set-top box media player. All you need is a TV with a free HDMI port and an active internet connection to tap into. Such media players support Full HD content from a variety of sources on the internet.
Also, these boxes sport USB ports for your flash drives and external hard disks – and a memory card slot for SD cards, letting you view the content you have stored on them.
The Amkette EvoTV series, on the other hand, is an Android-based box. Not only does this player come with a web browser, it also gives you access to the apps on the Google Play store. This lets you add your own preferred applications to the preinstalled web services in the player. You can even attach a USB keyboard to such media players to make typing easier.
However, unlike the proprietary players, these do not get any firmware upgrades.
Be smart and save money