Here is an entry level discussion on the difference of Smart TVs and streaming devices.
You may have heard of cable cutters, but truly there was no cable to start. Antenna was what I grew up with, then came Cable provided TV. Then other options like Satellite came along and all sorts of shows started being developed which meant more content, and of course more channels to support it all. Digital media started and then came internet with the speed to support video. Here comes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, Google Video, etc etc.
Now you want this latest and greatest content. Maybe you pay for one of these, maybe you have gone crazy and have them all. What is the best way to watch it? Here is what to know about the different streaming devices.
SMART TV vs TV
Televisions come in two varieties when it comes to streaming media. Smart TV and just TV. A Smart TV indicates it has the built ability inside to have apps installed such as Netflix. There was a time not too long ago however, that having the apps did not mean it had wireless built in so you would have to someone get a network cable to the TV. Fortunately though I think that time has passed, and if you see Smart TV, it is almost certain it has wireless built in but make sure. So right out of the Smart TV box, you can plug it in and connect to your home WiFi and get to streaming video.
Now if you bought a TV that is not indicated as SMART, that is perfectly fine. In order to get streaming apps to show on the TV, you need some sort of SMART device. Google makes something called a Chromecast. Amazon makes the Fire Stick. And there are other brands like ROKU. Any one of these devices will effectively make your TV into a Smart TV. In some cases this means another remote control, because it is separate, but in the end you have completed your Smart TV solution.
The Smart TV can have any one of the major manufacturer devices installed, or their own universal option. You should take note of what is pre-installed in that Smart TV you are considering and match it below.
Which one do I get?
You could have them all mixed up throughout your home, but I recommend you stick with a brand to keep things simple. The manufacturers want to keep it simple for you and keep you in their circle.
Google – For example, you have a Google Pixel phone, maybe a Google Mini Assistant, and Nest thermostat. These are all made by Google. Why not then get a Google Chromecast for your TV. You can then stream video and control it by voice and with your phone. No remote needed for this one, and you have the bonus of super fast menu options on your phone.
Amazon – Maybe you are all about Amazon. You have a Ring doorbell, an Amazon Echo assistant, and love Amazon prime video. Then get a Fire stick from Amazon and complete that solution.
Currently there are issues with playing Amazon content on Google, and Google content such as YouTube on Amazon, but it is not impossible. They just want you to stick to their content.
What is great about all these devices though is that they can be used on old and new televisions. Just make sure your TV has a port for the streaming device you choose available.
What is the most universal then for video?
The middle ground best option in my opinion is the Roku. They pretty much stream anything easily at this point. So if you are unsure, or just looking for the most universal, this is likely the way to go.
Each one of the services has its own monthly membership charges that can add up. But they also come with trials, so you can check out content and determine what you want to see, then make sure your device supports it.
Forget the TV
Well if you have a tablet, or a smartphone, that is already an independent smart device that can show you these streaming services. This post was basically what all those devices have in common, or not and a reason or two to choose one over the other.
You forgot to describe Apple TV….
It’s Apple’s version and if you have an iPhone or iPad, then you can also get into the Apple TV. Again, it is just another bunch that works closely together.
Hope this helps!