There is no lack of content to stream online. Whether you want to binge watch your old favorites on Netflix, keep up-to-date on your favorite new shows, flip through cat videos on YouTube, or even reminisce while watching home videos on the cloud, there are numerous options for streaming your media. If you have a supported TV and internet package that provides a login, you can even stream great content from channels like HBO, Showtime, or ESPN. The best part is that all this content is on demand, so you can watch what you want, when you want. With all this great content out there, the only real question is how to get the content you want to watch onto your screen.
Probably the easiest way to start streaming is simply to use whatever mobile device you have. Phones, tablets and computers are all capable of getting you where you need to be easily and quickly. Of course, while this is great for being able to watch whatever content you want while on the go, it can be hard to share your experience with others since the screen size is typically smaller on your phone.
Sometimes you just need to be able to sit back and watch cat videos on a big screen. For those moments, streaming devices come in handy. There are a huge number of different devices that can handle the process of getting quality video content onto whatever screen you want, but most of them fall into 3 main categories.
1. Gaming Consoles
Game systems have come a long way from the time of Pong. Gaming consoles are often times already hooked up to your TV and can offer a convenient way to access your content without any extra work. In fact, a recent report found that while other options get talked about more frequently, the majority of people who stream content do so from their gaming consoles. The fact remains, though, that they weren’t designed specifically for this job. Hard to navigate menus can make it a pain to get where you want.
2. Streaming Sticks
Streaming sticks are designed specifically for streaming content, and work as a dedicated way to get content onto the TV. Google’s Chromecast allows you to “cast” whatever content you’ve found on your computer, phone, or tablet onto your TV and continue watching it there. Roku’s streaming stick, on the other hand, works with a more traditional remote allowing you to search through their channels until you find exactly what you want to watch. Both options are fairly inexpensive, and work reliably while staying out of sight once they’ve been installed.
3. Set top boxes
Set top boxes are the big brother to streaming sticks. They are more powerful, faster, and offer some unique features that the sticks don’t have. Roku has been doing content streaming for a while now, and has not one, but three different boxes to choose from. Their newest version, the Roku 3, has one of the widest arrays of channels and apps to choose from in a streaming device. Apple, Amazon, and Google all have their own set top boxes, as well. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses revolving around their own eco-systems. If you are heavily invested in iTunes media, for example, you might want to look more at the Apple TV box, which plays well with iPhones and iPads.
Google’s set top box, the Nexus player, is the newest of all these options, and while it promises a number of great and unique features, only time will tell if they’re enough to set it apart.
When considering your options, it comes down to what is important to you. The set top boxes are a slightly more expensive choice, but their speed and function make them the ideal for this task. If cost is an issue, consider using your gaming console or purchasing a streaming stick. The streaming options are as plentiful as your media options.