Hardware for Streaming 2
In our previous entry, we listed a number of hardware products that you can use to stream various video content to your TV in case you want to supplement or replace your Over The Air (OTA) local channels. Here are some of the pros and cons of each device.
ROKU: This hardware product has been around for a long time (it was originally developed by Netflix as a movie player, then spun-off on its own), and is unique in that it is independent of the content providers, and therefore is somewhat “agnostic” to various streaming services. The ROKU player comes in a variety of versions that range in price from $29 to $90 depending on capability and options. You’ll pay more for 4K (only needed if you have a 4K capable TV), special headphones and other features. The Roku interface is also built into a number of “Smart TVs”, so you’ll see it there as well.
AMAZON FIRE TV: This family of products will not support You Tube TV (a Google product), but does integrate with the Amazon Echo products for voice control, so you can easily do searches without using a keyboard. The Fire TV options range from $29 to about $300 if you go for a FIRE RECAST that will record OTA shows and “cast” them to a local Fire TV. This is a handy option especially if you want an integrated system (easy to set up) that will manage your OTA content – sort of like a TIVO or other DVR but limited to the main OTA channels (in Denver, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX) and was discussed in Part 4.
APPLE TV: This is a higher end option, costing $150 to $225 depending on memory. Please note that, if you have an older model Apple TV, it may not support many of the newer streaming services! The Apple TV is a mature technology that can be a good solution if you are already comfortable with the Apple “Eco-system” and are comfortable with iTunes and other Apple products.
PLAYSTATION: This is your most expensive streaming option at around $300, but might be ideal if you are a gamer anyway, so you are just taking advantage of the added streaming functionality. This is a SONY product, so it does not support all streaming services. Also, if you are not familiar with the game interface, it will be cumbersome to control for the non-gamer in the family.
BLU-RAY DVD PLAYERS: For many years, most DVD players have supported a “Smart” interface and can be used to stream video into your home. All support Netflix and You Tube, but some are limited in what apps they support, depending on the manufacturer. The costs start about $100, but this might be a good option if you want to play DVDs anyway, since the streaming just “rides along”.
ONE OTHER (STRANGE) OPTION – GOOGLE CHROMECAST. This is not really a streaming player per se, but is a hardware piece that will allow you to “cast” content from a smart phone or tablet to your TV. This function is limited to apps that support Google casting and is very limited in non-Android tablets and phones. Note that you can also “cast” from an Apple product (iPhone, iPad) to an Apple TV in a similar fashion.
If you have any questions about Cord Cutting, or any other Home Automation advance, feel free to give us a call at 303-665-2238.