Smart Box For Dumb Tv Sets

Nandagopal Rajan        Print Edition: January 2013

Are you one of those stuck with a large, relatively new, LCD or LED TV without any smart features? Well, now you can "smarten" up your TV , even an old CRT, with intelligent features.

a. WI-FI
Old television sets never bothered about the Internet. Some LCDs can go online with a USB adapter.

What you can do:
Built in Wi-Fi, LAN connectivity. Some TVs can even connect using 3G dongles. Others can even create Wi-Fi hubs of their own.

b. OS
With no web connection, apps were never a feature. The closest you get is built-in games.

What you can do:
Run Android operating system, which, along with preloaded apps like mail, search and social networks, also opens up Google Play Store for downloading any app needed. The icon-heavy user interface is easier to use than the text-based remote menu. But some apps look a bit awkward on large screens.

With just channels to flip through, CRTs needed a remote only for controls.

What you can do:
Can be controlled using touch remotes (like with Amkette EvoTV), or with mouse (like Akai SmartBox). Actual remotes might be found lacking for use on the Android UI. Most of these devices also let you attach a wireless keyboard, if the onscreen one is not to your liking.

No customisation possible beyond tuning the picture to your preference.

What you can do:
Since they are Android based, you can customise the home screen as you want. Using EvoTV you can add as many channels and apps as needed.

Old CRTs can't play video files without help, old LCD play some formats.

What you can do:
Plays all video formats from pen drives, external drives and even wirelessly from other devices.

Older models suffer from limitations in sound output, though tweaks are possible .

What you can do:
With extra speakers, can play up to 7.1 channel sound with even SPDIF output.

With only regular remotes for control, motion control was never an option.

What you can do:
The EvoTouch remote can transform into a full-fledged touch controller for the TV thanks to the built-in accelerometer. This lets you use the smartbox for high-end motion-based gaming, while making it easier to play the other games.

Could play only content coming in through AV cable, no file sharing.

What you can do:
Smart boxes can be used to access and play files on the home network. Using DLNA, you can also mirror your laptop or smartphone wirelessly.

No option of sharing any content on the device.

What you can do:
While all smart boxes have storage space for you apps, you can connect an external hard disk and download files directly to it using the box. EvoTV can even run torrent apps to download media content.


1. Amkette Evo TV, Rs 9,999
This is the best smartbox around. EvoTV scores over the others with its advanced touch remote with built-in accelerometer, Android Gingerbread OS and one-touch user interface. It is also powerful enough for computing functions and sports a ARM Cortex A9 processor, ARM Mali 400 graphics processor. The device is ideal if you have a large screen TV as it can play FullHD files with 7.1 audio output. You can even make Skype calls with a webcam plugged in.

2. Micromax Google TV cloud Stick CX-802, Rs 4,990
Instead of a smart box, Micromax has come out with a smart stick. This 40 gm device can bring Wi-Fi access to the TV and gives it an Android 4.0 interface. With a standard HDMI interface it also lets you play FullHD files and has an Internal 4 GB NAND Flash, Wi-Fi direct. It can also support an RF 2.4 GHz mouse and keyboard as well as a Game PAD.

3. Akai Smart Box, Rs 6,590
The second best option, this Smart Box can also add some brains to your old CRT television. Can play most files, and have a bunch of preloaded apps. While new apps can be added, you cannot customise the user-interface. Instead of a remote, the controller here is a wireless mouse. The device provides full internet connectivity and can connect to a 3G dongle creating a wi-fi a hub on its own. Also, it is cheaper than the EvoTV.

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