Although a lot of people are OK saying good-bye to basic cable, it would be hard to imagine a life without video streaming. I turned off the cable for 8 months this past year during a move and reno, and although I did miss some things, having a few different options for media streaming meant that I could easily catch up on my favourite shows or just find something to watch during downtime.
If you’re just getting into video streaming and you’re not sure if you want a Smart TV or an Apple TV, here are a few options you can try. You may even have a video streamer in your home right now that you’re not using.
Everyone loves Apple TV. I’ve had the 3rd generation Apple TV for several years and it’s been my favourite streamer for a lot of different reasons. You can easily rent movies through iTunes, watch Netflix, Crave TV, or add any number of apps to watch sports, documentaries, and more. You can even stream all of your family photos to it as a screensaver. I just leave mine on all the time and it works as a big digital picture frame.
Apple TV is also plug and play, so all you have to do is plug it into your HDMI cable and power outlet and it’s ready to go. It’s one of the simplest streamers out there, and with the new 4th generation Apple TV, you get even more out of your streaming.
The latest Apple TV has an internal memory so you can store your favourite movies or TV shows, you can watch all of your favourite streaming apps, and use the Siri voice Remote to search through iTunes movies. That means no more tapping on the small Apple remote to find what you want to watch. You can also play games on the new Apple TV or find apps to work out with.
Overall, the Apple TV is a very simple streamer for anyone who’s just getting into media streaming, and because Apple updates it on a regular basis, it’s a streamer that will stick with you as video streaming evolves.
There is one major thing that Google Chromecast has going for it over other video streaming products: it’s compact. You can literally take Google Chromecast and put it in your pocket because it’s no bigger than a set of car keys. That means it’s the best option for video streaming on the go, and I’ve taken my Google Chrome on vacation to plug into hotel TVs or friends houses when they don’t have video streaming.
To use Google Chromecast you just open up the Google Chrome browser on your computer, download the Chromecast extension, and begin ‘casting’ video to your TV.
It’s really easy, but it’s even easier if you use your smartphone or tablet. You can download the Google Chromecast app and then add apps within the app for easy video streaming. I’ve added Netflix, Youtube, and different cartoon streaming and it makes it really easy to watch clear, lag-free TV.
Roku Streaming Stick
What’s easier to carry around than a memory stick? I’ve got one attached to my keychain in case I ever need to save a file when I’m on my go. Until I saw the Roku Streaming Stick, I didn’t realize that media streamers could be the size of memory sticks too. It literally lets you take your Netflix account with you whenever you leave the house, and because it’s so small, you could put it in your wallet or pocket and you’ll never be without it.
You get access to over 700 free channels, 1080P HD video streaming, and it’s all controllable via an app on your smartphone. There’s a lot of power packed into one little Roku, and it’s the perfect video streamer to send with your kids when they go off to University or to carry with you throughout the house for plug and play easy streaming video.
Any big screen HD TV you hang on your wall will be spectacular, but Smart TVs are by far the most seamless solution for keeping all of your video streaming/cable TV watching in one convenient location.
The stunning picture quality is the best part of Smart TVs like the LG 4K Ultra HD LED Smart, but it’s also nice that it’s really easy to set up. All you have to do is hang your TV like you normally would, connect to your Wi-Fi router, and you’ll be able to switch seamlessly between your cable box and your Smart TV hub.
Once in the hub you can watch Netflix, Youtube, or even surf the web with the built-in web browser. Plus, anyone with a 4K TV will soon be able to stream video in gorgeous 4K.
Video game consoles
If you’ve got kids or you’re a gamer yourself, you probably have an Xbox, PlayStation, or even Wii U in your home. Maybe you’ve overlooked it as a video streamer because your kids are always playing games, but these consoles make it easy to add apps to download movies or stream video. Just login to your home screen, head to the Playstation, Xbox, or Wii store, and add your favourite video streaming app from there.
Jon wrote a great article on how to get the most from your gaming console, so head over there and take a look. He’s shared a ton of things you can do with a video game console, but I think the best part of a gaming console is that if you already have video streaming in your living room but not in your bedroom, you can take your console and hook it up to any TV to give you video streaming all over your house.
The future of video streaming
4K, also known as Ultra HD, is 4 times the resolution of 1080p. If you’ve stood back in awe while looking at the picture on a 4K TV, you’ll be glad to know that you can enjoy a limited 4K video streaming experience right now. More services will be added in the near future.
In order to stream in 4K you’ll need a 4K TV, a streaming service like Netflix with an upgraded package to support 4K, and a speedy internet connection. You can check out Erin’s post for the full details on how to stream in 4K, and be on the lookout for a wave of 4K streaming video to hit over the next year.
My best recommendation when streaming video
Keep a watchful eye over your Internet bandwidth. Normally I never even look to see how many gigs I’ve used during the month, but when I didn’t have cable I noticed a huge surge in my Internet use because we were exclusively streaming video. Although we had a 300gb monthly package, we routinely hit 360 for a few months. It can really add up.
I love my Netflix and Youtube accounts, and I can’t imagine a life without streaming video. Check out all of Best Buy’s media streaming options and get set to watch everything you love too.