smart tv vs media streamer

The convenient streaming options of both smart TVs and media streamers are making more and more people upgrade their entertainment setups. Considering the features of media streamers and the accessibility of some smart TV models, it’s hard to choose which one will meet your needs best.

Smart TVs vs media streamers

If you’re ready to stream video at home, here’s a quick look at the features and how to choose between smart TVs vs media steamers.

Apple Media Streamer for seamlessly streaming content to your Smart TVMedia Streamers

  • Media streamers are efficient and easy to set up
  • They are pre-loaded with dozens of streaming channels and apps
  • They are a convenient option with less commitment required
  • They are extremely portable and easy to use with most modern TVs

Media streamers are a more budget-friendly option for streaming content, especially when compared to buying a brand-new TV.

One of the main advantages of media streamers is that you don’t have to compromise on features. You can pick the best brand of media streamer for you, even if it’s not the same brand as your TV, without needing to worry about choosing a TV with all of the features you’d like.

Media streamers are easy to set up. You just plug your media streamer into an HDMI port or a/v port on your TV and you’re ready to stream. They come pre-loaded with dozens of apps and some types will even let you play games or work out. Media streamers are portable too. You can unplug yours and take it with you when you travel.

Media streamers won’t upgrade your TV’s resolution

One of the disadvantages of a media streamer is that, while it will upgrade your TV to a smart TV, it won’t upgrade your TV resolution. If you have a 720p or 1080p Full HD, you can’t choose a 4K media streamer and have it stream in 4K. It will only stream in the resolution your TV offers.

While it can’t boost the hardware or upgrade your screen into an OLED, media streamers are still a great option to get more out of a device you’re already happy with.

Choosing the right media streamer for you

Each media streamer has its own set of features and software that is tailored for different audiences. While most will have the same typical options like Netflix or YouTube, some brands offer unique experiences with exclusive apps or pairing features. One example is the Apple media streamer. It has integrated smart home pairing, can connect your wireless headphones for private late-night streaming sessions, and can access apps like Apple Arcade to play games.

For a more straightforward option, there is the Roku Streaming Stick. The main benefit of going for a Roku streaming stick is how easy they are to use, with Roku providing an operating system that’s easy to navigate and accessible for an audience of all ages.

The all-in-one affordable Roku Smart TVSmart TVs

  • Smart TVs plug in and are ready to use without a lot of setup
  • They are an all-in-one device with your favourite apps pre-loaded
  • Smart TVs have 1080p Full HD, 4K, or 8K resolution
  • Smart TVs have ports for your gaming consoles or to plug in other devices

If you want to upgrade your TV, a smart TV is a good choice. Thanks to the advancement of OLED and QLED displays and the wide variety of options available, it’s easy to find a smart TV in the perfect size with all of the technology you’d like it to have.

You can find smart TVs with different resolutions, from 4K to 8K, and you can choose between the latest OLEDs, QLEDs, Mini-LEDs, and more. They offer a better choice vs a media streamer if you’d like to play games on your gaming console too.  Smart TVs are pre-loaded with your favourite streaming apps so you can log in and watch right away.

LG Products showing multiple Smart home devices like the OLED Smart TV

Smart TVs may be outdated more quickly

While the speedy advancement of smart TVs and home theatre technology is great to see, it does come at a cost. Your smart TV may become out of date much quicker than a media streamer. You may choose a state-of-the-art smart TV with the best resolution, refresh rate, and features, and in a few short years, there will be new technology on the horizon.

One way to future proof your smart TV purchase is by choosing the newest model and the best resolution your budget allows. You can also choose to add a media streamer to your smart TV as technology advances.

Adding a media streamer to your smart TV

Even if you already have a smart TV, there is still a lot of benefit in adding a media streamer to it. The main benefit is that it’s an inexpensive option that brings any TV into the modern era. If you have an older smart TV, adding a media streamer to it allows you to keep your quality TV going without missing out on the newer features in content streaming.

Almost all smart TVs should be compatible with media streamers, and it’s a good idea to add one if you’d like to eliminate the need for any kind of cable box or services.

Family and friends browsing shows on a Smart TV

Make the most of a smart TV and media streamer

Whether you choose a smart TV vs a media streamer, there are a few ways you can make the most of your new set up.

  1. Smart homes and virtual assistants – If you want to make your TV even smarter, the best way is to pair it with your other smart devices. Some TVs and media streamers offer voice assistants, letting you use Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa to load up a TV show from entirely different rooms in the house. Your movie will download while you make popcorn in the kitchen.
  2. Controlling the TV with your phone -The smartest device is the one we always carry with us – our smartphones. Some media streamers and smart TVs let you use your phone as a remote control. Controlling your TV with a smartphone can create a seamless user experience without worrying about finding that pesky remote.
  3. Find your perfect sound balance – Aside from picture quality, sound is the most important part of a movie-watching experience. No matter how good your TV’s speakers are, a sound bar or home theatre can elevate TV sound to movie-theatre levels. New smart TVs will offer a port to plug in a sound bar, and there are devices like Roku Stream Bar that give you a sound bar and media streamer all in one.

Samsung Smart TV showing the edge of an island in a modern style house

Will you choose a smart TV or a media streamer?

While choosing between smart TVs vs media streamers can be overwhelming, you’ll really enjoy your new device once it’s all set up and ready to go. For me, I prefer to use my default smart TV software for streaming as it’s easier to access, but I can see the benefit of upgrading to a quality media streamer. Media streamers and streaming sticks also make perfect gifts for friends or family that have an older TV. They open the door to accessing all your favourite shows and movies without needing to hook up and swap between other devices.

Whether you’re looking for a smarter smart TV or a convenient media streamer, you can find everything you’ll need for a personalized home theatre at Best Buy.

Steven Garrard
Steven is a freelance journalist and tech enthusiast who enjoys keeping up with technological advancements and sharing them to improve our daily lives. He also runs a video game and tech review blog and can be found on twitter at @BiasedGamer101.