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How I Turned My Dumb TV Into A Smart One For Just ₹7,500

25/04/2016 8:20 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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A man holding a TV remote control.

Just a few years ago, the television industry welcomed Full HD TVs. Fast forward to today, and you already have 2K, 4K panels, all of this coupled with smart televisions that allow you to stream videos, play games, run applications and plenty of more good stuff. However, what if you've spent a fortune picking up a big, 50-odd inch television, with a decent resolution, but now realize it has none of the bells and whistles of a modern-day smart television? Don't worry, you are not the only one who is feeling left out. I picked up my LG Full HD TV a couple of years ago, and was rather jealous of my friends flaunting their smart televisions and a ton of content that the cable doesn't offer.

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But there's more than one way to catch up with Khannas.

One promising solution is to pick up an Apple TV or even a streaming stick and play your content there.

But what if you want to go one step beyond and convert your TV into a whole hog personal computer as well? This is where a Chromebit comes in handy.

About the size of a whiteboard marker, the Chromebit by Asus is a portable media stick that basically converts your television into a Chrome-running personal computer.

About the size of a whiteboard marker, the Chromebit by Asus is a very interesting, portable media stick that basically converts your television into a Chrome-running personal computer. Think of it as a Chromebook but on your TV. All you really need to ensure is that your television or any monitor that you plan to use with it comes with an HDMI input.

One look at the specifications and you kind of warm up to the fact that this portable stick can indeed pack a punch. You get a Rockchip 3288 chipset with 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, and support for a full 1080P display. There are connectivity options like Bluetooth, wifi as well as 100GB free storage for you on Google Drive. Most of these specifications would remind you of a decent ₹10-12K priced netbook being sold today. What separates the Chromebit from them is the freedom to plug it into the display of your choice, and use the peripherals of your choice. In the box, you get the stick, a power adaptor and a couple of extensions for the HDMI-led Chromebit. This is a really useful accessory, as you may have a television that is hung on the wall making it difficult for the dongle to stand horizontally connected. Asus packs in an extender as well as a flexible connector for the Chromebit, just for this.

Simply connect the Chromebit to your TV and power it on... you can now use your TV like a PC or a smart television.

In order to get going, you simply connect the Chromebit to your TV and power it on. It takes about five seconds for the device to wake up and show you a welcome screen. Pair your Bluetooth mouse or keyboard with the Chromebit and proceed to accept the Terms and Conditions that we know you will not read. All that is left now is to log in to your Google account and get going. Google will sync your bookmarks, apps as well as extensions automatically and that is fantastic. You have the Chrome window in front of you and you can now use your TV like a PC or a smart television.

You can go ahead and play games which can be downloaded from the Chrome Store, you can access YouTube on your TV in the browser window and there is always the option to watch Netflix on the browser too. However, if you are looking for streaming or playing heavy content through Chrome, you will be disappointed as that 2GB memory is really pushed right to the edge. A couple of other annoyances include the fact that the icons on the screen very diminutive on a large display and if you move beyond about five to six feet from the TV, the Bluetooth connection is interrupted. Stay close by, and you will have no problem.

Can it replace a Chromecast or an Apple TV or a computer? No it cannot, but it will definitely make you love your old TV more...

Web browsing is smooth, as expected from Chrome but open five or six tabs and the Chromebit starts panting. It may not be a replacement for your computer, but the Chromebit definitely can breathe a new sense of life in a television or monitor that you are not using. In fact, I happened to talk to an old lady who runs a local library and she was in love with the gadget. She is not the type to use a heavy PC, or look out for crazy specifications. Also she wanted to do was watch some YouTube videos and maintain an Excel sheet of the library books, and the Chromebit did both. She was happy and I reckon, there will be plenty like Ms Shastri who will find the little Chromebit useful. Can it replace a Chromecast or an Apple TV or a computer? No it cannot, but it will definitely make you love your old TV more, and oh, and save you some money and space if you want to quickly build a low-power computer at home.

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