Get your TV to act smart!

10th November 2014
Get your TV to act smart!

Indian  innovation is helping  to add an Internet edge to legacy TV sets

By  Anand Parthasarathy
There was a time when it  was a put-down to say someone was 'acting smart'. Today, it  is high praise.  More so  if it is a thing -- like a phone  -- rather than a person. In 2014,  TV too has gotten smart.  It comes with a built-in  WiFi  antenna so that you can use the same screen to view cable  content or  surf the  Internet.
This has long been on my wish-list: I  see  an old movie playing on some channel and feel the urge to check out  the details of the story or  remind myself who that actor is, whose name escapes. I see an ad for  a holiday package and like to check  if the  fares are cheaper any where else. I also long to play some of the  free online TV  programming on the larger screen of my TV
Smart TVs allow you to switch from TV to Internet with a flick of the remote; but  the asking price  of a new Smart TV is too much for me.  Now it seems,  we can have the best of both worlds. Stick with our existing non-smart TVs  and  'smarten' them in their old age,  with an add on device or app  that costs very little.
Abroad, you have plug-in devices like Miracast, Chromecast and most recently  Amazon's  Fire TV. Now,  clever Indian developers have come up with desi options which do  much the same thing:  Net-connect your TV and let you stream Internet  to your  TV screen.
Mango Man, a Bangalore based start-up, has developed a HD Media Streaming Dongle called Teewe, that connects to your television via an HDMI Port and  lets you search for and play a wide variety of Internet content. It comes with a  smartphone app (Available on Google Play and Apple App Store) which lets the phone  double up as a remote control.  You can also  watch downloaded content from  your  laptop and other storage devices on the TV. Teewe  available   at Snapdeal for Rs 1999.
D-Link  has a product in this space:  DSM-260 Mirror Streamer  which costs Rs 3990. Just plug one into your TV, and you can stream your smartphone’s media directly to your TV for instant playback.
Some users like to store  their movie collection  on a single media centre.  One of the  Indian pioneers in this category is Amkette's  EvoTV.  In its latest avatar, it offers 4 GB of internal storage -- not  much to store a lot of video but you can always plug in a USB stick with more  content. It is an Android device which means you can surf the Net and  reach YouTube or Google Play. For Rs 5500, you also get a remote.
For those who not into streaming content but rather like to make better use of the cable or DTH  provider's  offerings,  Peel will seem like a Godsend. An app created at a US company  founded by two Tamil Nadu-origin  Indians -- Thiru Arunachalam and  Bala Krishnan -- it  lets you use your smart phone as a universal TV remote and what's more, digs into the network of the cable provider to create a  personal programme  guide.  Peel has  had viral success, notching up 100 million users of its free Android and iOS app.
I tried it out on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and  accessed a wealth of content about  TV programmes not  available  through my set top box. The only catch is Peel uses the same Infra Red  technology  that TV remotes exploit -- so  only phones with IR will offer full functionality.  I spoke to Thiru and he is excited to share that very soon Peel will also allow us to use the same phone to  control many other household  gadgets, not  just TV.
As they say, 'That'll be the day!".