If you don't own a smart TV, that doesn t mean you can t enjoy using the web on your TV. For LED TVs without integrated Wi-Fi technology, you can purchase an internet streaming media player. These are devices like Roku TV, Apple TV and the Google Chromecast. Your PlayStation and Xbox may work as well. With these devices you can just plug in, log onto your home network and start streaming Netflix to your TV. Here are some highlights and shortcomings of each streaming device.
Roku TV and Apple TV
These are two of the most popular streaming media devices on the market. They are compact boxes that need a dedicated power source and can be connected with an HDMI cable. These have internet apps and channels you can sign into. Some of the most popular apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus are featured. You can also stream music on these devices with the Pandora and Spotify channels. These devices seem to run the smoothest among the streaming media devices. Apple TV is an Apple-friendly device for the Mac lovers in the house. Roku has one of the most popular interfaces and comes with a motion control remote. The remote is easy to understand, with only a couple of functions.
These devices have relatively few apps. You can only download a few extra apps, and there is no web browsing functionality. Unfortunately, there is no way to get past using an onscreen keyboard, which can be annoying when you're searching for a specific show. These are on the pricier side of streaming internet media devices.
The Chromecast is one of the most affordable internet media players on the market. It s also one of the most compact and easiest to install. It takes one HDMI port, and you ll need to plug it in for power. You don t even need an extra HDMI cord because the device has it s own HDMI hookup. This device can connect to smartphones, tablets and laptops through your home wireless network, which allows you to mirror whatever is on your chrome browser to your TV. You can use websites like Hulu and YouTube without the need of using media streaming apps and cast it straight to your TV. Since you can use your computer or tablet, typing and browsing is not as cumbersome as using an onscreen keyboard.
The Chromecast must be connected to a computing device such as a laptop or tablet. Other streaming media players can run by themselves, but not the Chromecast. This is inconvenient because it monopolizes your computer or tablet. It also uses more internet bandwidth because you have two devices streaming simultaneously.
Video game systems and Blu-ray players
You may not need a dedicated streaming device. Newer game systems like the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (and beyond) can connect to the internet. Some advanced Blu-ray players can connect to Wi-Fi and stream video from the internet as well. You re using these same game systems and Blu-ray players for other functions, so having the extra option to connect to the internet for video streaming services and internet connectivity is an added bonus.
The apps and web features on Blu-ray players and gaming consoles are usually much harder to use than, say, the user-friendly Roku interface. Video game systems tend to be pricier than dedicated streaming media players too. These devices may need more software updates too.