How To Convert The “Old” Lcd Into A Smart Tv
Four options to redouble the entertainment in the living room of the house.
I still remember when I was walking through the big appliance chains in which giant televisions and super flat screens were offered. The era of Plasma TV had arrived, but not to stay. Along with its high price had a great disadvantage: a life too short that did not justify the expense. The replacement was not long in coming, the new LCDs took over the market and positioned themselves as the definitive alternative for old tube TVs. In their cause, they evolved incorporating LED technology, providing a consequent better cinematographic experience by offering more vivid colors and improvements in brightness and contrast.
After the buying frenzy calmed down, the companies redoubled their bet to offer us, just over a year ago, the new Smart TV . This concept that adorns again the chains of household appliances, raises the possibility of browsing, listening to music via streaming and watch online videos using only TV. The fact is that, beyond these possibilities, the TV itself remains an LED. Therefore, in this report we will see four possibilities that will allow us to convert our “old” LCD / LED into the precious smart TV, spending little money.
Option 1: Android to the rescue
We will start with the most economical option and that, in addition, will not require any extra space in the furniture where the TV is set.
Android is, nowadays, the most chameleonic system that exists. Far from just turning to the world of cell phones, it has become a very transversal operating system that serves to enhance Notebooks (strictly Chromebooks), video game consoles and now our LCD / LED.
There are many companies that use Google’s android to create their own option to set up a media center. The most interesting are the different Dongles that connect to the HDMI input of the TVs and that allow operating the operating system on the screen. While there are many models we will recommend three that are achieved without problem in our country:
– Generic: Generic models are the most common in specialized houses. Normally they have a pendrive shape and usually do not exceed $ 700.
– X-View Droid TV: In this case, to the previous offer, X-View adds a mini wireless keyboard that also includes a padmouse to its package. In this way, it will not only be used to use Apps, but it will also be possible to surf the Internet comfortably, write emails and use social networks. The Droid TV works with the Wi Fi network of the house and has 8 gigs of internal storage. Your price for our pampas is $ 1000.
– Noganet Smart TV BOX:The most complete option is this Noganet device that is shaped like a small box and that is offered at $ 1200. The Smart TV BOX has HDMI output, includes 4 USB ports (where you can connect keyboard, mouse and external disks), port for SD cards and Ethernet port. The combo also includes a remote control to access content directly from the comfort of the chair.
Option 2: Raspberry Pi
If we want something more powerful and complete than the Android Dongles for TV, we can look the other way and turn our attention to a Raspberry Pi. This option is a micro PC ARM that offers a great multiplicity of options such as becoming a server, a micro office PC and, of course, in a Media Center.
The recommended one for your purchase is model B that includes:
CPU: ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHZ ARM11
GPU FAMILY : BROADCOM VIDEO CORE IV, OPEN GL ES 2.0, -2 AND VC-1 WITH LICENSE, 1080P
MEMORY: 512 MB (SHARED WITH THE GPU)
USB PORTS: 2
VIDEO OUTPUTS: RCA (PAL / NTSC), HDMI (REV 1.3 AND 1.4), DSI FOR LCD PANEL
AUDIO OUTPUTS: BY HDMI OR BY 3.5 mm CONNECTOR.
STORAGE: SD / MMC AND SLOT FOR SDIO
NETWORK CONNECTIVITY: ETHERNET 10/100 RJ45.
This PC, of less than 8 CM per side, does not include any type of box as support, but different acrylic boxes are sold on the internet that allow us to rest comfortably on our brand-new Raspberry.
To acquire one of these Mini PC, we can do it from different media. In all cases the value does not exceed $ 700:
As we said above, the possibilities of the Raspberry are very broad and we can play video in 1080p (FULL HD) without problems. In our tests, the only drawback was when connecting an external disk. It must have an external power supply, because the voltage of the included USB ports do not feed these external devices.
In our laboratory, we mounted the Raspberry with a Fedora Linux ARM operating system, we connected wireless keyboard and mouse, together with an external disk and to finish we connected the equipment to the HDMI port of the LCD. In a matter of minutes we had a powerful and super functional Micro Media Center in optimal conditions.
Option 3: An Old PC
It is very common for users to change their equipment, leaving the old glories forgotten in a closet. This was my case a few years ago, so when I acquired my first LCD, I dusted an old Pentium 4 that had 1 gigabyte of RAM and connected it to the TV to work as Media Center. The interesting thing about this idea is that the only expense I had to incur was a board with HDMI output and enough power to play video in FULL HD, no more and no less. In just under 3 hours I had a complete Smart TV home and well Geek.
As an extra, the equipment that was connected to my home network allowed me to centralize on an external disk (connected to a USB port) all the multimedia content and lift it directly from my notebook. Months later, in my room, I installed an old netbook and connected it to a 22 “LCD monitor and through the network I used to upload series, music and movies directly from the old Pentium 4 to play the content in my room. The only drawback I remember was that, as the netbook connection was established by Wi Fi, the videos in FULL HD were somewhat choppy. Question that I solved making a wired connection.
Option 4: A New PC
After a few years I decided to do a clean slate and a new account. I sold the old Pentium 4 and bought a more modern equipment with an AMD Radeon 7750 video card. It offers DDR5 memory, HDMI and DVI output and the necessary power for a great extra: now my Media Center is a complete video game console . I bought a Logitech Wireless Gamepad that allows me to play on my TV without being tied to cables.
Another important novelty is that I can control the VLC video player remotely from my cell phone, which acts as a remote control. For this task all we have to do is install VLC Remote (available for iPhone and Android) to have all the playback controls directly on the cell phone.
If we want to add a touch of Glamor to the brand new equipment, we can acquire a Media Center cabinet, which will allow our PC to go completely unnoticed. The best Vitsuba Media Center Htpc San 30f and the Thermaltake Element Q Itx Htpc stand out among the best available in our country. Both are around $ 1000 with power supply included.
The Operating system
To finish a data no less: once we have the Hardware, we must observe in detail the different features offered by the available operating systems. The great advantage of Windows with Media Center included is that, in addition to managing all the multimedia content, it allows you to play all the titles on the LCD / LED in a simple way. For its part, Linux is always a good option. If this is the choice, we recommend the use of Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Elementary OS as the native distribution of work.