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.
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.