If 2011 is the year of the Smart TV, then it’s also the year people with TVs more than a couple of years old start to feel a bit hacked off. After all, while people buying new TVs can enjoy extra on-demand video streaming services, apps and even in some cases open Internet browsing on their gogglebox, people who invested in a TV before Smart TV fever took hold will be feeling left out in the cold.
Today, though, we’re looking at a neat little set-top box solution from Sony, the SMP-N100, which can turn even the most ancient of TVs - even CRT ones, for heaven’s sake! - into all-singing, all-dancing multimedia whizzkids.
One thing the N100 won’t do, though, is make your old TV look more glamorous. Its design is essentially one of those classic little metal ‘laboratory box’ jobs. Sony has tried to disguise the utilitarian nature of the bodywork by shoving a glass-like panel on its fascia, but frankly, they’re not fooling anyone. The best thing that can be said about the N100’s design is that it’s small, so you may be able to hide its drabness out of sight somewhere.
With this in mind, it’s perhaps a pity the N100 ships with an infra-red remote (which requires a line of sight) rather than an RF one. But then RF remotes are hardly common elsewhere in the streamer world, either.
At least the remote control is rather better designed than those found with many streamers, with an intuitive button layout and some decent size to it. It’s a relief to find we’re not expected to navigate the N100’s charms via some tiny, fiddly little ‘credit card’ remote that you’ll spend more time looking for down the back of the sofa than actually using.
The N100’s connections are interesting because of the varied output options they include. Most people reading this site will probably go for the HDMI output, but there’s also a component option and even a composite video option. While we would never recommend a composite connection where anything else is available, the composite feed on the N100 is actually very important, since it enables the box to hook up to just about any TV ever made.