Most people know what a Smart TV is and what it can do, but without a Ethernet connection from your modem your smart TV won’t be that smart after all, right? Well , a Smart TV Dongle allows Smart Televisions to operate wirelessly much like other Wi-Fi connected device found in your home, like laptops, tablets, and smart phones.
A Smart TV Dongle is an off the shelf product available at most stores or web-sites that sell electronic devices, prices range from $49.00- $110.00. It looks like a flash drive and plugs in to the USB port of your Smart TV, replacing your LAN connection from your modem to your Smart TV. This is quite a technological innovation, and eliminates the need for your Smart TV to be near your internet modem.
For example, if your new Smart TV is upstairs in your bedroom and your modem is downstairs or in the basement, without a Smart TV Dongle, you would have had to run an additional wire from the first floor or basement up into the bedroom, which in most cases would require hiring a technician.
It also means you have to decide and commit to where the TV is going to be in the room and where it will most likely stay. Because if you move the TV then you have to move the LAN connection or run it across the floor like an extension cord. And honestly, aren‘t we all a little tired of seeing the wires from our myriad electronic devices everywhere in our homes?
A Smart TV dongle is wireless and plugs into the HDMI port of your Smart TV, either in the side or in the back, and it fits into the palm of your hand, so it is barely noticeable.
Of course there are some prerequirements for using one. First of all, you need a Smart TV. There are some products available, like Roku’s Streaming Stick that plugs into the HDMI port of any MHL compatible HDTV’s, thus giving the TV smart capability. It is the next generation of Internet TV Boxes, but it is limited in apps availability. Secondly, you have to have a wireless network in your home, which means a wireless router.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that Smart TV dongles are brand-name specific. This means that if you own, say, a Samsung Smart TV, you will need to get a Samsung Smart TV Dongle. Some manufacturers include the dongle in their package, while others offer it only as an extra.
NETGEAR offers a universal Smart TV Dongle that will work with any brand Smart TV. It is an 120 volt powered unit that plugs into any common receptacle, but it not truly wireless as it needs a physical connection from the wall unit to the TV in the form of, you guessed it, a wire.
Another company called AlwaysInnovating recently announced their own HDMI Dongle which connects to an HDMI port of any HDTV. It's similar to the Roku Streaming Stick I mentioned earlier but doesn't need the TV to be MHL compatible. AlwaysInnovating's dongle gets you the chance to watch streamed or stored movies in 1080p, and apparently will work with Ubuntu, Android, or eventually Google TV software.
You can expect to see the device on the market around the middle of this year, priced somewhere between $50 and $100
Smart TVs that have Wi-Fi capability built into them eliminate the need for dongles. Right now, Wi-Fi ready Smart TVs are limited to the more high end models, but as sales increase, and it is estimated that by 2015 fully one-third of all televisions in this country will be smart TV’s, this feature will become available in more and less expensive models. So, like so many other tech gadgets, Smart TV Dongles will one day become obsolete. But for now, viva the Dongle.