OTELCO Summer Streaming Series Step 2: Finding the Right Device

Which device is right for you?

In this week’s edition of the OTELCO Streaming Series, we explore the vast world of streaming devices. It is a hot market, so we narrowed things down to what we think are the top five streaming devices out there today.  We will also take a brief look into Smart TVs and explore a few streaming methods you may already have in your home. Let’s jump in!

Smart TV’s

Most TVs made in the last five years are “smart.” What makes Smart TVs smart is their ability to stream content via your home network. The question is, are Smart TVs smarter than streaming devices? Most experts say, “not yet.”

In 2016, Forbes recommended that readers stick with streaming devices, calling Smart TVs “buggy and slow.” A lot can change in three years, though, and today’s Smart TVs are in fact “smarter.” Some TVs even include voice navigation and smart home compatibility. It doesn’t hurt that Amazon, Roku, and Android TV (Google’s streaming platform) have been partnering with leading TV producers to create more robust Smart TV technology. At the same time, steaming devices are built with one thing in mind, streaming, while Smart TVs need to account for several different factors before they hit the shelves. OTELCO’s final word on the matter is: streaming devices still have the upper hand.

Streaming Devices

The streaming device market is saturated. Roku alone has seven different models out there. So OTELCO did some leg work and found what we think are the top five devices on the market today.

Device Price Description Pros Cons
Roku Streaming Stick + $59.99 The Streaming Stick’s simple navigation has stayed true to Rokus original vision and makes streaming very straight forward. As a bonus, the advanced wireless receiver makes it easy to place it anywhere in your home without having to worry about losing your Wi-Fi signal.
  • Customizable Interface
  • Compatible with Google Assistant Devices and Alexa
  • Does not offer Apple Music, or iTunes
  • Poor voice navigation
Amazon Fire Stick $49.99 The Fire Stick provides streamers with the most bang for their buck. It is affordable, easy to use, and of course, Alexa integrated.  

  • Alexa remote
  • Recently added YouTube TV and Apple Music
  • The Alexa remote can be glitchy when navigating between apps
Amazon Fire TV Cube $119.99 If you love AI assistants, the Fire Cube is for you. It offers all the same features as the Fire Stick, but with the hands-free aspect of the Echo. With the TV Cube, Amazon perfected their Alexa microphone so that she can pick up your voice over background noises. The cube can also control your traditional cable, satellite, or blue-ray setup.
  • Plays music and other Alexa responses through your soundbar
  • Can perform almost all the same Alexa functions as an Echo device
  • Alexa can get confused and make navigational mistakes
  • Does not support Dolby Vision
Apple TV 4K (32GB) $179 Apple TV, like most Apple products, is going to set you back a little more, but, if you are an iOS lover than this is for you.
  • Siri Voice Remote
  • Compatible with popular Apple features/devices, such as Airplay,
    Apple HomeKit, and the iCloud.
 

  • Does not support Spotify
  • Does not include any Android services, such as the Google Play or the Amazon Store
Chromecast Ultra $69.99 The Chromecast is Google’s answer to streaming. The small puck-like device is unique in the sense that it doesn’t have an interface or a remote. Chromecast runs entirely through smart devices, and computers, from which you can “cast” content to the device via the Cast Button. This can be hard to navigate but is very popular among the tech community.
  • Screen mirroring with compatible Android-devices
  • Compatible with Google Assistant devices

 

  • Hard to navigate
  • Does not offer Apple Music, or iTunes

Devices You May Already Have

Before you go out and buy a new Smart TV or streaming device, look around the house. There is a chance you can stream from something you already own. For example, Xbox and Play Station all offer streaming options, though the Wii stopped offering Netflix streaming in 2019. An excellent idea for streamers on a budget is a laptop and HDMI set up. If you have a laptop at home, you can connect it to your TV via an HDMI cord and stream from your browser. If you don’t have an HDMI cord, you can get one on Amazon for under ten dollars. Even if you choose to buy a streaming device, having an HDMI/laptop set up can be a great way to access live streams that may not be available from a device, like the local news or a hometown sporting event.

The Speed You Need

No matter what you are streaming on, you will need a reliable Internet connection. Most streaming companies recommend a connection of 25 Mbps down or higher, but that number can vary depending on your household’s personal broadband needs. Download OTELCO’s Bandwidth Calculator to determine the speed you need.

Download Our FREE Bandwidth Calculators For Home and Business