Due to the popularity of streaming services, the biggest providers offer plug-in devices that can be paired with most TV sets. These can turn your regular TV into a smart one or upgrade your smart TV by providing exclusive content. Sometimes, it’s more cost-effective to use these plug-ins over buying a high-end smart TV.
When To Get A Streaming Plug-In
You should consider a streaming plug-in if you have a TV set which can’t access online apps and services. Buying one of the many streaming devices out there will open up a lot of new content for you. If you do have a smart TV (meaning it can access online services), you should consider how much it offers and if there’s content you’re missing out on.
By default, there is a lot of content online and much of it is easy to access with an internet connection. Outside of established streaming services, sites built around video-sharing or iGaming host shows for their audience. That includes live, interactive shows like Crazy Time that capitalize on the online landscape in a way that streaming services can’t. Having a TV capable of accessing the internet opens up a lot of new content, especially if they have an integrated app for your favorite sites like YouTube.
However, not every online service can be accessed for free. Streaming services are paywalled, offering exclusive and original content you won’t find elsewhere. Many of them have integrated apps that are popular in modern smart TVs, though you’ll still need a subscription. If you have a regular TV or a lower-end smart TV, you may lack those features. That’s where a streaming plug-in box can come to the rescue.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
If you have an Amazon Prime account, a Fire TV stick is a great way to expand your TV’s content. Amazon Prime offers a lot more than just fast delivery nowadays, such as its Prime Video service where you can watch movies new and old. You also get Music Prime and, through apps within the Fire interface, you can add YouTube and Netflix.
Fire TV also comes with a special remote that’s capable of taking voice commands. It’s managed by Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, who can help with content search, Q&A browsing, and other nifty features like organizing your schedule.
Google TV Chromecast
Android phone users may get more out of Google TV, launched by the tech giant in 2020. Like the Fire TV service, Google TV grants access to multiple streaming services along with the option to buy or rent any movies or shows on Google Play. It also comes with its own AI helper, the unglamorously named Google Assistant.
Through Google Home, it’s possible to manage and build a smart home where Android and Chromecast devices are synced. From there, you can use the Google Cast feature to stream content from your phone straight to your TV.
Roku Streaming Devices
Unlike Amazon or Google, Roku solely focuses on smart TV technology and streaming devices. They have connections and partnerships with many streaming services, having been the first to offer the Netflix Player on TV way back in 2008.
Today, it offers its streaming service partners across a variety of devices, from sticks to soundbars. That selection includes less popular content for those with niche tastes, including international services.