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Make your own smart tv – Part 2

Tech  /   /  By Jordan Kerr

First things first… So you’ve decided to cut the cord.  Let’s get you started off on the right foot.  The first post of this series states that “countless devices” are available to boost your current TV’s IQ.  That statement is true.  However, none of these devices are perfect.  Every single one needs a little help to meet your expectations.  To avoid repetition, I will cover these details once.  Without further ado, let’s introduce the players.

Flirc: The familiarity of a remote control is a game changer.  Using a remote control allows even the most basic users to easily navigate interfaces without a keyboard or mouse.  This USB dongle allows you to do just that by transforming any IR code into a keyboard stroke.  Flirc makes it possible to use any of your existing IR remotes to control any device that supports a USB keyboard.

Kodi:  It isn’t very often that an open-source software product rules the roost.  Kodi (formerly XBMC or Xbox Media Center) has deep set roots in helping users take control of their own media.  These roots first found purchase during the original Xbox “mod” rage.  Users created Xbox “mods” to function as an Atari or Nintendo emulator, content pirating machine, or media center.  Kodi left the Xbox branding behind as it has branched out to almost every platform.  This powerful and stable center is used by most cord-cutting devices to organize or stream media.  Almost every review in this series will include the functionality and performance of Kodi.

Input Devices:  Even if you have a Flirc, keep a keyboard and mouse handy.  Initial configuration and testing will require some typing.  Most devices do provide an on-screen keyboard.  If you liked the 2003 style of texting (multiple button pushes per letter) skip the keyboard.  Just prepare yourself for a maddening configuration.

Cables, Cables, Cables:  Most of the devices are going to come with an HDMI cable.  Not one of the devices has arrived with an HDMI cable that supports CEC.  A $10 cable may bring your TV’s native CEC control to life.  I will also discuss the following cables:  USB extension, Optical / Coaxial audio, and micro-usb hub / OTG devices.

Router: When streaming media, your router can make all the difference.  Every review will compare the connectivity between a two year-old N router and a high-end AC model.  If your router doesn’t support at least N, plan on using wired connections only.

Now the introductions are made and the stage is set – all we have to do is review each device and its optimal configuration.  Do you have a device that FactoryTwoFour should review?  If so, please contact me here.

Jordan Kerr
About the Author

I am a successful entrepreneur gone corporate citizen. Living in the Pacific Northwest helps me balance my main interests, nature and technology.

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