Need a smart TV but no budget? While there’s a good chance you already have the hardware that can make your TV smart, one low-budget kit can make all the difference.
Yes, it’s the Raspberry Pi, a versatile minicomputer that can do everything from learning how to code to smart TV.
5 things a smart TV has to offer
Before jumping to the «how», think about the «what». If your Raspberry Pi can replace smart TV functionality, turning a so-called dumb TV into a smart TV, what can you expect from it?
- Ability to play media from a USB stick or external hard drive. This is possible through the USB port on Smart TVs. On a Raspberry Pi, you must have a spare USB port to do the same.
- Stream video from online sites such as Netflix and YouTube. The Chromium browser for Raspberry Pi can play the Netflix library, or you can install the Kodi add-on for Netflix.
- Remote control from a mobile device. For example, if you’re using Kodi on your Raspberry Pi, this can be set up using a client app on your Android or iPhone to control the software remotely. Otherwise, you can set up an infrared, Bluetooth, or wireless remote control with an optional USB dongle connected to it.
- News and weather. A smart TV should be able to receive news and weather data and present it to you when you turn on the TV.
- PVR support. If you need to record a TV show, connect a USB TV card and a hard drive.
While these features are not possible on all Raspberry Pi smart TV projects, they are certainly available on the most popular option: Kodi.
1. Use Kodi to Create a Media Center
If you haven’t seen Kodi on an Android device, Amazon Fire Stick, or even a game console yet, now is the time to try it out.
There are several Kodi images available for the Raspberry Pi, each offering pretty much the same experience:
sudo apt update sudo apt install kodi
Once installed, you will be able to access video and audio content over the Internet using add-ons. These are applications that present content of your choice. For example, Kodi has a YouTube add-on. Remember, however, that since some add-ons are illegal, you should stick to the ones available in the official Kodi add-on repository.
Kodi also offers weather reports so you can check if you’re missing sunlight while watching YouTube.
2. Stream media across your network with Plex
RasPlex, a Kodi alternative, allows you to stream media over your home network. This dynamic client/server uses your Raspberry Pi as the client and Plex as the server.