Fire and Apple and Roku … Oh, my! Did you know that two of the most popular holiday gifts this past season were ‘boxes’ and ‘sticks’?
We’re talking about Internet-to-TV streaming devices or electronics that have been rapidly gaining popularity since 2009. In fact, 25% of American households now possess one or another.
So, what are they … and just why are they so popular?
Streaming devices defined:
Simply put, a streaming media player is a device that connects your television or home theater to the Internet. It allows you to stream or download and watch online video and music content on your TV.
Why the big deal?
Research shows that viewers of all ages are watching Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and similar non-cable apps more than conventional TV and the major networks.
Cable TV costs have been steadily rising.
Squeeze, which always has your back when it comes enhancing your life and saving you money, has put together this list of the most popular streaming devices and the pros and cons of buying and owning each.
Pros: Approximately $100.00, the Roku Premier combines ease of use searching and a top-notch picture/viewing experience.
Cons: To fully take advantage of its benefits you’ll need a TV made for high-resolution programming. There are plenty of these on the market, and they tend to be a bit more expensive.
2. Samsung HD/Blu-Ray DVD Player
Pros: Samsung’s UBD-K8500 model is ideal for people who want to stream, and want to watch their own DVD’s or Blu-rays at home. This enhances the quality of what viewers already own. It currently supports Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube, and may offer the most options buck for buck.
Cons: The cost is twice as much as the Roku Premier (around $200.00).
3. Apple TV
Pros: For everyone who is a fan of and comfortable with Apple’s user-friendly interface and cutting-edge technology, it should come as no surprise that Apple TV was one of the first streaming devices available. And wait for it … Apple should be releasing its Fifth-Gen box sometime this year.
Cons: If all you want to do is (rather than manipulate or watch old movies in your collection), there are better and more affordable choices. This one typically costs between $100.00 and $200.00, the new generation will up that price somewhat.
Pros: From its first days Chromecast has been a great streaming device, and its latest version, Chromecast Ultra, is even better, offering a top-notch picture and supporting a wide variety of streaming channels. A bonus is that you can also download your computer and smartphone screens to your TV, and the price spread starts at around $40 to $70.
Cons: You can’t utilize services from rivals that have their own devices such as Amazon and Apple.
5. Amazon Fire
Pros: As you may expect, this device partners perfectly with Amazon Video, Amazon Prime, and even Amazon’s new smart speaker (that works with voice commands), Alexa. Purchase Video and Prime as a bundle, and the Fire device will cost about $90.
Cons: If you prefer to watch streaming videos from a variety of sources, you will need to load each of those apps individually and then search within them for movies and shows. It’s time-consuming but, after all, this is the result of having more choices.