- Posted April 12, 2014 by
Los Angeles, California
Best Devices for Media Streaming, According to the Experts
Once while visiting my parent’s house, my wife discovered the octopus of cords nestled behind the television. I explained to her why a cluster of cords and splitters that connected video game systems, a laser disc player, a VCR, a DVD player, a computer and a cable box to the TV was a good idea. The nostalgic part of me loved that setup, but she said it was a hideous, unintuitive collection of time-wasters that would never be allowed in “our” house. Reluctantly, I agreed and six years later I’m still living with just one device connected to my TV. If you’re limited to one auxiliary device, too, we’ll help you choose the right one and show you what the experts say about top media streaming devices from names like Roku, Google and Apple.
Channels: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play
Remote Included: No, but you can control it with Android tablets and smartphones, as well as iPhones and iPads.
This barely-noticeable device plugs directly into the HDMI port on your HDTV. It’s powered by either a USB cable (which is included and can be plugged into your TV’s USB port) or with a power adapter. David Bakke, editor at Money Crashers, said that you can’t beat Chromecast in terms of price, but that it falls short on content when compared to other streaming options – specifically the Roku 3 and Apple TV. Kimberly Kurimski, brand manager at werockyourweb.com, said that Chromecast is still in the beginning stages and needs more choices for media. “It’s definitely going to be a top competitor in the future.”
Channels: Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes, YouTube
Remote Included: Yes
Apple TV also leaves you wanting more channel options, but it offers a few Apple-friendly features that you won’t get anywhere else. Jeff Butler, Editor in Chief at Cover Story Media, said that Apple TV is great for streaming photos and other personal media. He explained that “it gives you full access to your iTunes library and your iPhoto stream,” while Chromecast and Roku only stream online content but not anything native.
Channels: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, HBO Go, Redbox Instant, Blockbuster on Demand …
Remote Included: Yes, and you can even connect your headphones to it.
To get the most bang for your buck and the widest range of media streaming choices, Kurimiski said to go with Roku. Bakke also gave the victory to Roku, and said it’s the most future-proof of all the devices. A Smart TV may or may not support software and firmware updates, but the Roku regularly comes out with updates and newly-added content.
Channels: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Crackle, HBO Go, Redbox Instant …
Remote Included: Yes, you can use the wireless controller or purchase the Xbox 360 Media Remote.
The Xbox 360 is the only device on the list that can play video games. Michelle Schenker, the Chief Operating Officer at Cover Story Media, said that the prices for movie streaming through the Xbox are higher than other places.
While the Xbox doesn’t offer as many subscription options as Roku, it offer quite a few more than most other streaming devices. Although, to be able to access those channels, you have to sign up for an Xbox Live Gold membership, which will run you $5 a month – and that’s on top of whatever you have to pay for the streaming service.
The Smartphone Alternative
Twila Bergania, a tech blogger and team coordinator at eCycleBest.com, said that the most future-proof streaming device is the smartphone. Here’s more of what she had to say:
What type of media consumer do you think would benefit most from streaming through their mobile phone rather than a Roku or Apple TV device?
I think the type of media consumer that would benefit the most from this are the gadget geeks and people on the go. These would also benefit consumers who cannot afford additional streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku. In a sense it’s cheaper to get an HDMI cable than a whole new device
Which smartphones would you recommend for media streaming?
Aside from the iPhone 4S and 5 (which works well as a streaming device only if paired with Apple TV, iPad or when used with streaming apps), I highly recommend T-Mobile G2X and HTC Evo, both of which have HDMI-out features which can connect to any HDTV using a cable. I also recommend Samsung’s recent Galaxy smartphones which can be paired with a Samsung Smart TV. I’ve tested it for a few minutes and even without streaming devices like Apple TV or Roku, you can connect to your TV by connecting to Wi-Fi and tapping on your Samsung smartphone.
For the consumer that already has a media streaming device (perhaps built into their Blu-ray player or gaming system), would they be able to find any added convenience by streaming through their smartphone?
I think a convenient way to pair your smartphone with any streaming devices is to use apps that can turn it into a wireless controller or a remote. A great example of this is the iPhone and the iPad when paired with an Apple TV. There are also some devices that allow paired smartphones and tablets to view whatever’s streaming on an HDTV on their own mobile screens, which is great for content sharing.
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