Live TV, schmive TV. It’s all about streaming content these days. And there’s a wide selection of devices now that can make getting that streaming content onto your large-screened TV fairly simple.
Sure, the latest smart TVs typically include access to some of the biggest streaming services, from Netflix to shomi and CraveTV. But let’s face it: chances are even if you have a brand-spanking new TV in your home, it only covers your viewing pleasure in one room. If it’s in your living room, what happens if you want to binge-watch that show you’ve been meaning to check out in bed on a lazy Sunday? Or maybe the smart TV is in your bedroom, which doesn’t help much when your girlfriends come over for a ladies night and want to check out the Netflix original series Grace & Frankie.
So, what’s the solution? The good news is there are a ton of options to stream content to a large-screened TV. Here are just a few, and some of their biggest advantages.
What really sets this streaming stick apart is its sheer simplicity. Plug it into your TV’s HDMI port and into AC power, run through a quick and easy setup process, then start binging. It works with a number of popular streaming services, including Netflix and Bell’s CraveTV. Or, stream whatever you want from a Chrome browser on your computer by using the “cast” button at the top of the browser window. Even CTV supports the device, allowing owners to stream the CTV GO service from their compatible Android and iOS devices. That includes not only smartphones and tablets, but also computers while using the Google Chrome browser.
The go-to device in my living room is the Apple TV, which affords access to a long list of services, including Netflix, Rogers’ and Shaw’s shomi, and CraveTV, among others. Or, you could simply hit the AirPlay button and do screen mirroring from an Apple device, like a Mac computer, iPhone, or iPad, and watch whatever’s on your mobile device’s screen on the big screen. In terms of versatility and compatibility, Apple TV wins, hands down. And with the latest version Apple just announced, you can add some pretty cool voice control actions to that using Siri and the new touch remote.
Roku 3 Streaming Media Player
This player gives you access to more than 1,400 streaming channels, including Netflix, YouTube, and NHL, and can even display content in full HD resolution. You can control playback using the Roku app on your compatible smartphone or the remote, which works with voice commands as well as touch. You have the option to connect it wirelessly, or via wired connection through its Ethernet port. Have additional files you want to play? Use the USB and microSD inputs to play back from a flash drive or memory card – great for home videos. If you can’t sleep because you’re so caught up in an awesome movie, but your partner is ready for bed, connect a pair of headphones to the headphone jack and listen on your own.
Roku HDMI Streaming Stick
Like the Chromecast, this streaming stick can pop your right your TV’s HDMI port, then afford access to more than 700 free channels, including movies, TV shows, news, sports, and music on the big screen. It supports resolution up to 1,080p (full HD), and lets you cast content from popular services, Netflix and YouTube. It, too, works with a remote and the Roku app.
MyGica ATV 1800e Streaming Media Player
Based on my own observations through conversations with friends and local social media groups, it seems that Android boxes are a hot item these days. As one of the lesser-known options in the streaming device space, the MyGica ATV offers some pretty enticing features. Essentially, you connect this box to your TV and poof! – it turns it into a smart TV, adding access to movies, TV, and sports apps via the Web, from popular services like Netflix and YouTube. It supports 4K content, and even lets you connect to your mobile devices via Bluetooth. What sets it apart is the included remote, the 16 GB of flash memory, and the ability to also do things like view photos, play games, and read ebooks from your television. OK, so I can’t think of any time you’d want to read an ebook on a TV, except maybe to have some fun, educational time with a preschool child. But it’s a cool feature, nonetheless.
Slingbox M1 Wi-Fi Media Streamer
We all remember Slingbox when they first came on the scene years ago offering a way to tap into your TV at home remotely. Boy, were they ahead of their time, but also on the ball as to where the industry was headed. With one of the company’s latest devices, the Slingbox M2, the functionality continues, letting you watch and control live TV from compatible mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, and play and schedule PVR recordings. If you want to watch from a second TV, just use an Apple TV or Roku device to do so. It’s an ideal way to turn your larger home theatre into a personal one for individual viewing.
Ditch the cable, get an antenna
Streaming TV, by the way, isn’t the only alternative to a potentially pricey cable TV subscription. You could also consider nixing the cable in favour of a digital antenna that would afford free, over-the-air (OTA) signals to some channels.
First, you’d need to buy the antenna, install it outside, likely on the roof and run a cable from it to your display device. Or, simply place it tabletop and connect it from inside via coaxial cable. Once set up, scan for the available channels and the TV will search, find the strongest signals, and display those channels. Keep in mind that you might have to move those “rabbit ears” around until you find the optimum spot for the best reception and access to the most channels. You won’t be getting any premium fare, like HBO and AMC. But for those who only want the basics, like local news and a few cool sitcoms, this might just suffice.
And hey, why not do this and use the money you save to upgrade your home Internet package and sign on for a streaming TV service, then grab one of the access device like those noted above? It’ll ironically get you both ready to enter the new world of TV and revisit the old. But the important part? You’ll be getting access to tons of awesome content and saving money, too.