It’s not everyday your 12 year old finds a free TV while walking the dog but that’s exactly what happened over the weekend. And with the edition of an Amazon Fire Stick, suddenly this hilariously outdated smart TV suddenly became a lot smarter..
Yes you may have established that we’re a family that does love a working freebie, like the Malvern Star bike from last month..
This post does include an Amazon affiliate link which may pay me if you click on it at no cost to you. Enjoy!
He took the dog but came back with a TV
Okay that’s not exactly what happened here. But Jackson did volunteer to take the family pup Willow down to the nearest oval for a big of ball throwing shenanigans. And a few hours later during an unrelated conversation, he suddenly remembered that he’d seen a free TV by the side of the road.
‘It’s got a remote with it I think. It’s just there at the end of the street. Maybe an LG?’-Jackson, heavy on the details.
And after establishing that it wasn’t in fact a 34cm box that should have been turfed with the turn of the century, I ventured down to have a closer look. And lo and behold, he was correct on the brand and the remote.
Even better, the USB wifi dongle that originally came with this 42 inch telly was still plugged in the back and so taking a hilarious punt on a random free TV, I carried it home one and half blocks away.
After powering it up we discovered that only do we have a working TV without a single detectable issue (aside from the dust) we now have a LG 42LS5700 Smart TV circa 2012. And having never owned a Smart TV yet, I can only assume this was the early days of the smart tech because of one little tiny issue:
The apps on board are completely rubbish.
It does have Netflix though..
First thing I did was hunt down a firmware update for it only to find that there was one, it was back in 2016 and this TV already had it on board. Sadly that meant that the version of Netflix it came preloaded with was quite a few generations behind and was a wonderful snapshot of streaming yesteryear, with a logo that actually should have changed in ’16 but didn’t for whatever reason.
Also with this old version it doesn’t ask you who’s watching (or which account you want) it just dumped you right in the middle of things, hoping you’d find something you wanted. Interestingly if you compared what it offered to what Netflix loads up on a device from today (ie An Ipad from the last two years) then nothing of the choices actually matched. It really was a snapshot of the past.
I can’t really comment on the other apps because there were quite a few I’d never seen before and therefore was highly unlikely to ever find a use for now. Oh there was a mirror streaming app so I could cast things to it, but it was $14. Not much point when I could relocate the family Google Chromecast for free.
So now we have a spare TV in the main bedroom with an antiquated Netflix experience and no YouTube. Apparently it was an option once but no more. Great. And with no spare cable about to drag to the aerial point across the house for free to air TV the best use this free telly was…well not much really. Until it was Fire Stick time!
Amazon Fire Stick or Google Chromecast?
I mentioned the Chromecast a second ago – it sits on the living room TV and it’s been handy to cast Facetime calls to the far bigger than iPad sized screen. But there’s the rub, you’ve got to run one to work the other. In my mind I wanted something plug and play where you didn’t have to fire up one bit of tech to whisper its tech secrets to another, something that was easy to use and didn’t require a 9 week wait from China to get here.
It also needed to access a few streaming services we enjoy naturally (Netflix, Disney+ and on the odd occasion Amazon Prime) and run YouTube without screaming back to the LG servers wondering what the hell to do. Obviously a question someone at Amazon thought deep and hard about, it’s answered immediately on the Fire Stick box itself.
(Having 10Play and ABC iView was a bonus as I do like catching up with both Thank God You’re Here and Dr Who episodes respectively.)
So it seemed like a no brainer then, an Amazon Fire Stick it is especially now that at the time of writing they’re actually stupidly affordable. While I can’t speak for the American market (but here’s an Amazon affiliate link to see if they are a bargain from your side of things) there’s some great discounts to be had on the Oz side of the world:
Which is just as good as what you can find locally. So if you’ve got a fire stick in mind, JB has a couple of options:
The 4k version doesn’t seem available there (at least not according to the website) but the Good Guys (owned by the same people as JB) have them, well at least online (and their mid range fire stick is the same price as JB.)
Since Good Guys was the closest, I wandered over a day after free TV day and found that all their 4k versions had sold out. So I grabbed the non-lite version for a stonking $39 and found that was more than enough to turn the old LG into something far more modern.
Because once you plug it in and find a spare power outlet (yes you will need power for this in case you’re wondering, I thought it might draw power from the USB port but no) setup is a breeze provided you remember all your streaming passwords. And adding what you need is just a couple of clicks away. Hilariously the remote also comes with it’s own Amazon Alexa which means you can be wonderfully lazy, just hold down the Alexa button and tell it what to do.
‘Alexa, play Mr Beast on YouTube.’-Jackson again trying out the Amazon Fire Stick and finding the Alexa option utterly hilarious.
Does it work on all TVs?
Look, I’m no expert but if your TV has more than two colours and came with HDMI ports originally then I’m going to hazard a guess and say ‘Probably’ (as long as you also have working wifi in the house too as it doesn’t just pluck the streams out of the air by magic.) It’s worked like a charm on the LG 42LS5700 rendering anything on board nothing more than museum exhibits and given that it gets on just fine with my xBox One, my even older Samsung LA40b530p7fxxy (circa 2009) would probably run it without a hitch. It all happens on the item itself not the TV, it just uses the screen to show what it’s doing and the sound as well of course.
Easy to plug and play, tonnes of options and has turned a free TV by the side of the road into a $39 streaming king. What’s not to love about the Amazon Fire Stick?