- Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Device for turning a Regular TV into a Smart TV is the Google Chromecast with Google TV.
- No matter which device you choose, you will have access to thousands of hours of movies and TV shows.
- Devices like the PlayStation 5, Apple TV 4K, and Fire TV Cube also offer access to games for additional entertainment.
While smart TVs have been all the rage over the past decade or so, there is still a subset of regular TVs available that do not have smart features. Whether it’s a family-favorite television that’s managed to stick around or you have no need to upgrade, these regular TVs are still able to access all of the regular channels like local news and entertainment.
The good news is that if you would like to have a “smart” TV without buying an entirely new television, you can absolutely do that for a lot less money. Even though technology moves quickly, all it takes is an easy attachment to bring your old TV into the modern age.
Let’s take a look at the 7 best devices for turning your regular TV into a smart TV.
- Best Overall: Google Chromecast with Google TV
- Best Budget-Friendly: Fire TV Stick Lite
- Best Value: Roku Streaming Stick 4K
- Best Gaming Console: PlayStation 5
- Best Sound: Roku Streambar
- Best Premium: Apple TV 4K
- Best Media Player: Fire TV Cube
#1 Best Overall: Google Chromecast with Google TV
- Streaming in 1080p HDR
- Compatible with almost any TV with an HDMI port
- Access to over 700,000 movies and TV shows
- Easy to install, just plug it into your TV's HDMI port
- Google Assistant button on remote
When it comes to the best way to convert your regular TV to a smart TV, the Google Chromecast with Google TV is the device to buy.
Plugging into a regular TV via HDMI or a compatible adapter, the Google Chromecast with Google TV is a great solution to access over 700,000 movies and TV shows. Once you are plugged into your TV, just connect to your home Wi-Fi and you can start streaming.
The Google Chromecast offers access to just about every streaming app on the planet, all of which are downloadable directly to the device and instantly provide you with a smart TV.
You can control all of your new smart features through the included remote, which offers shortcut buttons for Netflix and YouTube, plus a home button to bring you right back to the main menu. Once you are in the menu, you can choose any family member’s profile where Google will show personalized recommendations based on your subscriptions and viewing habits.
As an added bonus, you can also quickly jump into a program with voice commands thanks to the included support for Google Assistant.
|Arguably the best overall streaming device interface||Only supports up to 1080p video quality|
|Google TV offers personalized recommendations|
Check out the Google Chromecast with Google TV on Amazon.
#2 Best Budget-Friendly: Fire TV Stick Lite
- Enjoy fast streaming in Full HD
- Comes with Alexa Voice Remote Lite
- Access to over 200,000 free movies and TV episodes from ad-supported streaming apps like IMDb TV, Tubi, Pluto TV, and more
- Plug in behind your TV, turn on the TV, and connect to the internet to get set up
- Endless entertainment - Stream more than 1 million movies and TV episodes from Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock, and more, plus listen to millions of songs (subscription fees may apply)
Amazon’s most affordable Fire TV stick, the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite is a budget-friendly way to convert a regular TV to a smart TV quickly.
Available with support of up to 1080p Full HD quality, the Fire TV Stick Lite offers access to a huge variety of streaming services. Amazon’s ownership or partnership with services like FreeVee, Tubi, and PlutoTV also helps make the Fire TV Stick Lite feel like an excellent value as soon as you plug it in.
To add the Fire TV Stick Lite to your TV, you only need to connect to any available HDMI spot (or with an adapter), turn the Stick Lite on, and connect to your Wi-Fi network to get started.
Once you are online with the Stick Lite, over 1 million movies and TV shows are available from your favorite streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock, Paramount Plus, and more. As a bonus, you can even connect to Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, and other streaming music services for listening directly from your television’s speakers.
|Very budget-friendly||Only supports up to 1080p quality|
|Over 1 million movies and TV shows||Best for Amazon customers|
Check out the Fire TV Stick Lite on Amazon.
#3 Best Value: Roku Streaming Stick 4K
One of the best values in the streaming world, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is a great option to add to your regular TV.
As soon as you connect the Roku Streaming Stick 4K to your regular TV, your “new” smart TV gains access to the entirety of the Roku app network. With arguably the strongest library of any smart device as far as downloadable apps, the Roku is a terrific way to dip your toes into the smart TV world.
If your regular TV is compatible with the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, you can stream in 4K and HDR10 and use the Stick 4K’s support for Dolby Vision. All of these features will help improve the overall picture quality of any content you are streaming. Plus, you can quickly find any of your favorite shows by using voice commands with support for Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
Whether you are downloading any of the apps Roku supports or watching one of the 350+ live TV channels Roku offers, the Stick 4K continues to show why it’s such a strong value.
|Roku has the most basic interface for app navigation||Requires a 4K television for best picture quality|
|Access to thousands of streaming services|
Check out the Roku Streaming Stick 4K on Amazon.
#4 Best Gaming Console: PlayStation 5
A dark horse in the streaming device race, the PlayStation 5 is actually a fantastic way to quickly convert a regular TV to a smart TV.
Along with its arguably best-in-class gaming experience as part of the ninth generation of gaming consoles, the PS5 is also a great smart TV device. As soon as your PS5 is connected, you can quickly turn your regular TV into a media powerhouse all through the PS5 interface.
Both free and paid streaming services can all come together in one place including support for Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, ESPN+, Hulu, and so many other services, all in up to 4K quality. On top of these services, the PS5 disc edition even adds support for Blu-ray discs, which helps make it the ultimate home media equipment.
The separately purchased Media remote allows access to all of your new smart TV features. With four shortcut buttons, the remote also enables you to quickly access Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube with one button press. Last but not least, you can also control media volume as well as fast-forward or rewind to your favorite scenes.
|Access to thousands of games||Most expensive way to convert to a smart TV|
|Terrific interface||Can be difficult to find|
Check out the PlayStation 5 on Amazon.
#5 Best Sound: Roku Streambar
- Built-in 4K streaming
- Massive selection of free, live, and premium TV
- Dolby Audio calibrated for boosted volume and crisp dialogue
- Customizable home screen
- Advanced audio engineering within the Roku OS
- Comes with a Roku remote
A unique entry in the streaming device space, you can convert your regular TV to a smart TV with the Roku Streambar and also give your TV a huge boost in sound.
Like other Roku devices, you get access to the full catalog of available apps in the Roku portfolio, of which there are thousands and thousands. You also have access to over 300 live TV channels available without any login or password access.
Setting up the speaker is incredibly easy as you just plug directly into the HDMI or optical input on your TV and, voila, you now have a smart TV.
Once plugged in, the advantages of the Streambar really become evident as you have four 1.9-inch full-range drivers that provide room-filling sound. Available with Dolby Audio, the Streambar will help calibrate performance based on your volume preferences in order for dialog to feel clear and crisp.
You can also adjust between Movie, Music, Night, Standard, and Dialog sounds to help get the absolute best sound possible for your now-converted smart TV.
|Adds thousands of apps to your TV||300 live channels are mostly older shows|
|Doubles as a soundbar||Requires an optical input for best performance|
Check out the Roku Streambar on Amazon.
#6 Best Premium: Apple TV 4K
- 4K Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound and HDR10+ support
- Equipped with the powerful A15 Bionic chip
- Third-generation Siri Remote with improved clickpad
- Wi-Fi and Ethernet options available
If you want a premium smart TV experience on your regular TV, Apple TV 4K is the way to go.
Arguably the best-looking interface of any smart TV device, Apple TV 4K offers a similarly strong lineup to its Roku and Google TV competitors. Across the tiled interface, all of your favorite apps are present and accounted for with many apps offering you customized previews of the next episodes in your current series.
Apple’s offering should be very familiar to smartphone owners who are used to an app-centric interface, so there is almost no learning curve with Apple TV 4K.
Navigating the Apple TV 4K interface is done with the Apple TV remote, which is among the easiest to use in the smart TV space. A touch-enabled click pad does the heavy lifting allowing you to swipe through episodes, scenes, or frames within a movie in a very natural motion.
There are also shortcut buttons for volume and home so you can easily come back and find your next binge obsession.
Separately, if you are an iPad or iPhone owner, you can also use the built-in remote app that’s included with iOS and end any worries over losing a remote.
|Outstanding interface for apps||Pricey|
|Access to Apple Arcade and Apple Fitness as well||Best if you are already in the Apple ecosystem|
Check out the Apple TV 4K on Amazon.
#7 Best Media Player: Fire TV Cube
- Twice as powerful as Fire TV Stick 4K Max
- Control your devices with hands-free Alexa
- Seamlessly switch between your compatible devices
- Supports Wi-Fi 6E
- 4K with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, and Dolby Atmos
Widely considered the best media player that doubles as a streaming device, the Fire TV Cube is another stand-out choice for converting a regular TV to a smart TV.
Amazon’s fastest-ever streaming media player, the Fire TV Cube is 2x more powerful than the Fire TV Sticks that are a staple part of its streaming device lineup. One of the biggest highlights of the Cube is its hands-free Alexa operation courtesy of a built-in microphone and speaker. This helps you control not just your compatible TV once the Fire TV Cube is plugged in, but also additional accessories like a soundbar.
With Wi-Fi 6E built-in as well, the Fire TV Cube offers some of the fastest broadband capable speeds around, which means streaming should be a seamless experience. This is good news as the picture quality the Fire TV Cube can produce, which includes support for Dolby Vision and HDR and requires a fast connection to the internet.
Also available through the internet are thousands of downloadable apps available to Fire TV Cube owners, which provide access to more than 1 million movies and TV episodes. When you’re done watching movies, the Dolby Atmos audio experience also shines through with support for Amazon Music, Amazon’s Luna PC gaming experience, and other audio services like Spotify.
|Excellent audio performance||Requires a fast Internet connection|
|Access to Amazon Luna|
Check out the Fire TV Cube on Amazon.
What to Know Before Turning a Regular TV into a Smart TV
The idea of converting a regular TV into a smart TV is a really attractive one, especially if you don’t want to spend money on a brand-new television set. However, before you buy a smart TV device, it’s important to consider exactly how you plan to use it.
For example, if you want both a smart TV as well as a gaming console, then you know the PlayStation 5 or Fire TV Cube are the two best options. Should you want improved audio, you know the Roku Streambar is the best device you can purchase for this purpose. Ultimately, what you want to do with your regular TV will help drive which device is the right one for you.
The good news is that all of these devices do the same thing in the end, and that is to breathe new life into older technology. The other good news is that as long as you can easily install through an HDMI or optical input, setting up these devices should take no time at all.
Using a Device for Turning a Regular TV into a Smart TV
No matter which of these devices you pick, you’re going to have access to thousands of TV shows and movies. On top of that, the Roku devices offer up to 350 additional channels with live programming, all at no additional charge. Better yet, with devices like the PS5 or Fire TV Cube, you also have access to thousands of games in the case of the PS5 and hundreds of games from the Fire TV Cube.
This is really the best part about using any of these devices since there are literally thousands and thousands of hours of entertainment right at your fingertips. As some of these devices cost as little as $29, the price-to-feature ratio is almost off the charts.
|Rank||Device||Best For||Key Features||Drawbacks|
|#1||Google Chromecast with Google TV||Best Overall||Access to over 700,000 movies and TV shows, Google Assistant support||Only supports up to 1080p video quality|
|#2||Fire TV Stick Lite||Best Budget-Friendly||Access to a huge variety of streaming services, over 1 million movies and TV shows||Only supports up to 1080p quality, best for Amazon customers|
|#3||Roku Streaming Stick 4K||Best Value||Access to the Roku app network, 4K and HDR10 streaming, voice command support||Requires a 4K television for best picture quality|
|#4||PlayStation 5||Best Gaming Console||Access to thousands of games, supports Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, ESPN+, Hulu, and more, 4K quality||Most expensive way to convert to a smart TV, can be difficult to find|
|#5||Roku Streambar||Best Sound||Access to thousands of apps, doubles as a soundbar||300 live channels are mostly older shows, requires an optical input for best performance|
|#6||Apple TV 4K||Best Premium||Outstanding interface for apps, access to Apple Arcade and Apple Fitness||Pricey, best if you are already in the Apple ecosystem|
|#7||Fire TV Cube||Best Media Player||Excellent audio performance, access to Amazon Luna||Requires a fast Internet connection|
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