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How to get an internet TV for £35

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 12: The new Sony Internet TV is seen after it was unveiled October 12, 2010 in New York City. The LCD television is powered by Google TV and is the first to allow viewers to watch HD television while surfing the web and using applications at the same time. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Shopping around for an internet-enabled TV, I’ve been quite shocked by the prices. But could a cheap mini PC dongle TV stick do the job just as well?

I’m not normally obsessed with gadgets, but I have recently been lusting after an internet-enabled TV. These ready-wired gadgets allow you to stream content from sites such as BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm using your home wireless broadband network and without the need for a computer.

Thanks to Netflix, LoveFilm, 4oD and iPlayer, I don’t watch much live TV anymore and have cancelled our Sky subscription. But every time we want to watch online content on a decent-sized screen, we have to plug a computer into our TV. It’s not the end of the world, but nor is it the seamless media experience I’d like.

So I’ve been wondering if an internet-enabled TV would make sense for us or if there’s a cheaper alternative.

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How much would you pay for an internet-enabled TV?

You can pay as much as you want for an internet-enabled TV. A 55-inch Toshiba model costs £1,499, while a Sharp 80-inch model is on the market for £4,750. One Samsung smart TV was on sale for an astonishing £7,999, which is more than many cars!

Now, we don’t need a top-spec telly with 3D capabilities or voice and motion control, even if we had the cash to spare. Yet even the more basic models are a few hundred pounds, so I’d decided that we could put up with our current set-up for a bit longer.

But then I heard about a far cheaper alternative; an HDMI mini-PC dongle TV stick.

The £35 alternative

Now, I am no technology journalist; I can barely operate a printer. So at first, I assumed this would be far too complicated for me.

And a few internet searches suggested the same thing; these don’t seem to be very mainstream. I could only see techie forums and specialist tech websites talking about them and not in layman’s terms.

But essentially, if you have an HDTV then you could buy a mini PC dongle TV stick that plugs into your HDMI port. It’s only the size of a USB drive but can turn your telly into a smart TV without any expensive upgrade.

Simply plug it into your television and you’re ready to browse the internet, watch catch-up TV, play games and Skype – all the services people most want from a pricey web-ready TV.

Prices on these gadgets vary, but we found a mini PC Android 4.1 TV HDMI Dongle for just £34.63 online, and it’s had good reviews so far.

So thanks to an innovative gadget, we’ve spent less than £35 instead of over £350 and we’re getting the same service.

Our keyboard remote

Having sidestepped the hassle of plugging in a PC every time we want to use the internet via our TV, we still had to use a computer keyboard to control it. Which was less than ideal.

However, we’ve got around that by investing £20 in a wireless mini PC keyboard touchpad – essentially a remote with a tiny keyboard and mouse mat attached.

Now our HDTV is ready to work as a smart TV, without having to plug and unplug a computer, and we haven’t had to spend hundreds (or thousands!) of pounds.

Would you spend thousands on an internet-ready TV? Do you use a mini PC dongle? Share your thoughts and reviews with other readers using the comments below.