Before you consider purchasing a new device, make sure you don’t already have streaming applications. Many blu-ray players and smart TVs include applications such as Netflix, plus the ability to connect to your wireless and/or Ethernet network. If that is true, you already have the building blocks to begin streaming video.
If you don’t have the streaming applications built in, then you will need to purchase a video streaming device. This means that you have to have an available HDMI input port on your TV and if your device does not plug in directly to that port, a HDMI cable long enough to reach between your device and your HDMI port. You will also need an available AC power outlet.
In all cases, you need to have an excellent network connection. If your device supports Ethernet, then the best streaming experience will be gained by running an Ethernet cable between your device and your router. But, this is not always possible or practical, in which case you have to look to wireless. For you to successfully experience video streaming via wireless, you need to have a strong and fast wireless connection. In my experience, you need to sustain a download speed of at least 10mbps to successfully stream HD video, but the faster the better.
If you decide you want to buy a video streaming device, then you need to decide which applications are must-haves and how much you want to spend. Prices range from about $35 to $150 (not including the HDMI cable if required). In addition, you will need to pay subscription fees if you want services such as Netflix or Hulu.
Here is a run down of the most popular add on streaming devices:
Roku Available in five models (priced from high to low): Roku 4, Roku 3, Roku 2, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku 1. Features and speeds vary from high to low. In particular, Roku 4 supports 4K UHD televisions, both Roku 4 and Roku 3 support voice input, and Roku 1 supports Composite Video cables for older TVs that do not have HDMI. What sets Roku apart is that unlike Apple, Google, and Amazon, they are completely unbiased in the selection of content available on the device.
Google Chromecast At $35, the lowest price option. If you plan to stream video from your phone, tablet, or computer, this is a great choice. But there is no separate remote, so it can only be controlled from your mobile device.
Amazon Also available in several models (Fire TV Stick, Fire TV, Fire TV Gaming Edition), this is the best choice if you are really into Amazon content (for instance if you already subscribe to Amazon Prime).
Apple If you are already invested in Apple products, the Apple TV products are for you because of the integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Apple computers. Apple introduced a new model this year which integrated Apple’s Siri voice-recognition for search and device operation. This new model is also positioned as a new gaming platform.
As always, there are many choices available to you. Hopefully this blog will provide a framework to help you decide which is best for you.