Media Streamers and Smart TVs

Why not use a smart TV?

A Smart TV is pretty much any new TV that was purchased since 2010. These are the TVs that connect to the internet and allow you to download Apps and games on a visually appealing menu displayed on the screen. Depending on the brand, the interface will look vastly different from manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, Vizio, and TCL. The great thing about these are that they give you the flexibility of easily connecting to WIFI and you are ready to watch Netflix or Hulu.

A Media Streamer is a small box or stick that connects to your current TV’s HDMI port and it provides a set of apps and games accessible via your phone or an included remote. The most familiar of these are Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, or the Roku box.

The BIGGEST and most CRUCIAL difference between Smart TVs and Media Streamers is that Smart TVs are built by TV manufacturers who crank out tons of different models of TVs every year, while Media Streamers are built by Tech giants highly skilled in software development and security only cranking out 1 or 2 every few years. There is no way a TV OEM can maintain software on that many TVs every single year, in addition, it is not in their interest to, their interest is to sell TVs. Media Streamer OEMs have a vested interest in maintaining their software, since the content is where they make their money, while TV OEMs make the money from the hardware.

Based on this information, I strongly recommend media streaming devices over the included Smart TV functions for MANY reasons, let me expand on them a bit more here.

  • Media Streamers have automatic software updates and bug fixes which fix any random issues that pop up periodically, smart TVs rarely receive updates. If you have software glitches, you are likely out of luck.
  • Smart TVs do not receive updates so are commonly exposed to internet vulnerabilities that open up the cameras and microphones to hackers, which can be a large privacy concern.
  • Smart TVs usually have a complicated user interface to learn. If you do not buy the same brand of TV going from room to room, these interfaces can get confusing jumping from one TV to another, different rooms with different remotes, different configurations, different software to learn, and different apps and password entry for each.
  • Media Streamers integrate better with virtual assistants like the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa on phones/tablets/computers
  • Media Streamers’ WIFI antennas are commonly well superior to Smart TVs, so this translates to a more robust WIFI connection to ensure buffer-free video streaming 

Moral of the Story – Find a single media streamer you like (I prefer Chromecast) and buy one for each Smart TV in the house. This will solve many of the common headaches associated with Smart TVs and allow you to focus more on the content rather than the technology.

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