You don’t need a smart TV to watch streaming video on demand with ShowMax. These clever gadgets and tech tips will give you the big screen experience at a fraction of the cost.
With the cost of internet connectivity coming down and the promised rollout of high-speed options like fibre to the home taking place faster than anticipated, many people are considering subscription video on demand (SVOD) as a source for their daily entertainment. But do you have to have a smart TV to enjoy internet TV in the comfort your living room?
While the TV has long held pride of place in the living room, the rapid proliferation of tablets, phablets and smartphones means that those ‘watching’ are more likely to be found staring longingly into the screens of their mobile devices than actually watching the TV. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be able to sit back and relax with your favourite shows on the big screen from time to time.
Smart TVs from manufacturers such as Samsung and LG, give you the best of both worlds. Essentially, a smart TV is integrated with a computer and connects directly to the internet. You can watch traditional television and switch to native apps to access streaming services like ShowMax, YouTube or Netflix on one device. But don’t throw away your existing flat-screen TV just yet, depending on what you’ve got, it’s straightforward to turn your dumb TV into a smart one.
How to turn your regular TV into a smart TV
1. Connect a computer to your TV
The first and simplest option is to connect your laptop or PC to your TV using an HDMI or VGA cable. Switch the TV’s source to take the input from your computer and, through your web browser, you can stream content from sites like YouTube, ShowMax or Netflix. You can also play high-end games and watch the movies that are saved on your computer on the big screen.
2. Media-streaming devices
Not a fan of connecting more cables to your TV? With media-streaming devices like Google Chromecast and Apple TV you can stream shows directly from your mobile device or laptop to your TV.
The new generation of Google Chromecast will cost you around R900. This nifty dongle plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and once connected to Wi-Fi you can ‘cast’ content from your web browser or mobile device directly to the TV screen using compatible apps from ShowMax, Netflix, YouTube, RedBull and more.
Do you have an iPhone or iPad? Then you might want to consider an Apple TV. The latest generation will cost you about R2800 for 32GB of storage (previous generations are a lot cheaper).
It allows you to play content from iTunes as well as ShowMax and Netflix. It’s most compelling feature is AirPlay — which lets you stream content from your Mac, iPhone or iPad using your home Wi-Fi network. There are a lot of media streaming devices in the market so be sure to research which one best suits your needs and check that it supports the services you’re interested in.
These devices are a lot more affordable than replacing your current TV and generally have a much more user-friendly interface when compared to many of the smart TVs on the market.
Save on price
A smart TV will generally cost around R2 000 more than its less intelligent equivalent. Bridging the gap with more affordable tech can save you a decent chunk of change, and when the next big thing drops on the market, instead of buying an entirely new TV you can simply upgrade the specific hardware that makes your TV ‘smart’.
Enjoy a smoother user experience
Smart TVs are relatively new on the market which comes with some downsides. The user interface in smart TVs is often not as refined as mobile apps, meaning using it can feel clunky and outdated. Streaming devices have better software and more regular updates which translates into a smoother user experience.
Our advice? Don’t dump the dumb TV just yet – check out the alternative ways of streaming while saving up for that shiny new smart TV.