So, you’ve decided to cut the cord and now you need some over-the-top content. Well, you’ve come to the right place. In a previous article, we discussed a number of dedicated streaming devices you can use.
However, you don’t necessarily need a dedicated streaming device to stream content from services like Netflix to your TV. In fact, lots of kinds of devices can do this. As a rule of thumb, if it connects to your router via Ethernet cable or WiFi, it can probably stream content.
So, what are the pros and cons of different kids of devices? Here we go:
Modern consoles, including Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, and Nintendo Switch can all connect to the internet and run applications like Netflix and other streaming apps.
Pro: You probably already have one. 61% of Canadian households already own a gaming console.
Pro: Multi-Use. If you pick up a Wii on the secondary market, keep in mind you can always fire up Wii Bowling when grandparents come by. And some consoles like Xbox One and PS4 can play Blu-ray disks, so you can watch non-streamed content too.
Con: Controllers are terrible remotes. No one likes to flick channels with video game controllers.
Con: Sharing. If the gamer in your house is prone to playing long hours, you might need a different solution (and more than one screen).
There are dozens of models of modern Blu-ray players out there that offer streaming services.
Pro: Lots of options. Consumer Reports recently recommended 19 different models, and they covered seven different brands. If you want options, you get that with Blu-ray players.
Pro: Multi-Use. Of course, the main point of a Blu-ray player is to play Blu-rays. After all, some movies and TV shows are worth buying, right?
Con: Potential cost and clutter. If you cut the cord to save money or simply your life, a Blu-ray player might not help, as buying lots of Blu-rays adds up fast and a big collection takes up space.
A smart TV is a TV that connects to the internet and comes with integrated web features. In addition to being able to watch TV channels, a smart TV can run apps, just like on your phone.
Pro: No middleman. Why have your chain of devices go router to streaming device to TV when it can just go straight from your router to your TV? And keep in mind, the fewer devices you have, the fewer that you’ll have to troubleshoot.
Con: Cost. Smart TVs are expensive, there’s no way around that. Whether or not to upgrade a TV, potentially costing thousands of dollars, is a big discussion. And keep in mind that if you have multiple people wanting to watch different things, it’s easier to buy multiple streaming devices instead of multiple smart TVs.
Computer With HDMI Cable
You can always stream from Netflix or Amazon by doing so on your computer and plugging it into your TV with an HDMI cable.
Pro: Simple. If you already have both a computer and a TV, you can pick up an HDMI cable for about five bucks. Or maybe one even came with your computer.
Con: Not so friendly to young or multiple users. Of course, you might not want other family members using your computer, especially if they’re of juice-spilling age.
Dedicated Streaming Devices
As we’ve mentioned before, we’ve written about the different kinds of streaming devices out there.
Pro: Inexpensive. For between $40 and $200, you can get a dedicated streaming device that’ll connect your existing TV to your router.
Pro: Simple. All the devices we’ve written about have fairly simple, user-friendly interfaces.
Con: The cross-utilization problem. Some devices, like Google’s Chromecast, won’t let you stream rival’s services, like Amazon Video.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of devices out there that’ll bring TV and movies into your home without the need for a cable package. One thing you will need though is a good Internet connection with a high rate of speed and lots of data. So when you’re shopping for a streaming device, maybe also consider shopping for an unlimited usage plan so you can cut the cord with piece of mind.