Sunday, 16 December 2012

Make your Dumb TV a Smart TV using Raspberry Pi

I am not sure about a real definition of Smart TV but I guess it is basically an integration of TV and Internet. It allows to access GMail, Facebook, Skype, YouTube and Video on demand services. Using Raspberry Pi you can convert any TV in to a Smart TV, even more smarter than those from LG and Samsung. More smarter because Pi is basically full-fledged computer running Linux, so anything is possible that we do on regular PC. While those smart TV from Samsung, LG, Sony etc run a stripped down version of Linux or proprietary flavor of Linux. They support only a small set of popular apps or plug-ins. 

Also this solution uses XBMC for media streaming which is an open source free s/w that supports tuns of plug-ins for Video, Music, and Programs

I have converted my old CRT TV into a Smart TV and enjoying BigBoss from Colors (Indian Hindi TV channel) since last few months, in fact i could see any episode anytime I want for free.

My Solution - Hardware
Raspberry Pi Type B (30 GBP)
Edimax USB Wifi dongle (10 GBP)
RiiTek Wireless key board (20 GBP)
USB Hub (9 GBP from eBay)

Power Supply for Pi - No need rather use USB hub with external power and power your Pi through USB port on Hub. I am using 7 port hub as Pi provides only 2, I wanted at least 3 ports one for my Wifi dongle, one for wireless key board and one for external HDD, where I keep my personal collection of Pictures, Music and Videos. 

a) Download xbian i.e., from here

b) Unzip the, it will create a win32diskimager folder and XBian1.0Alpha3.img file 
- win32diskimager folder contains a s/w to write a image file on SD card
- Insert a > 2GB SD card and format it
- start Win32DiskImager.exe
- Select XBian1.0Alpha3.img file and drive of your SD card
- click a 'write' button, writing of image to sd card starts
- wait for few min till the writing is complete
- Insert SD card in RPi and boot it

c) Download AJ add-on for Indian TV channels
- Copy the add on zip file to SD card
- Select an option 'Install from ZIP' while installing an add-on in XBMC, follow this path System > Settings > Add-ons > Install from Zip file

d) For official XBMC Video add-ons like YouTube and many others, downloaded it through XBMC follow this path System > Settings > Add-ons > Get Add-ons > All Add-ons > Video Add-ons

e) Add-ons for GMail, Facebook etc are available in Program add-ons category while Music add-ons are available in Music category. 

Good thing about this solution is you can access all Indian TV channel content on demand for free and LIVE news channels like NDTV, TimesNow and ET Now for free as well. 

I love YouTube on TV as it provide access to vast amount of Video content on demand. Some of my favorites educational content young kids are.
  • Hooplakidz - YouTube channel for young kids, provided tons of rhymes, short stories, abcd/phonics,number and whole lots fun and educational content for kids
  • Alphablocks from Cbeebies - about 50 episode
  • Jolly Phonics - a playlist of 5 videos of jolly phonics. 


  1. Smart TV on Wikipedia,
  2. XBMC home,
  3. XBian home,
  4. AJ Add-on for Indian TV content and Movies,