What Is a Streaming Device?

Find out how they work and whether you need one

A streaming device is also known as a media streaming device or streaming stick. It allows you to stream entertainment content such as movies, TV shows, music or photos straight to your TV. This is usually done via an HDMI port on the back of our TV. 

A streaming device is a useful way of expanding your options for how you wish to watch content, giving you more options and apps. Some content requires a subscription to a service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, but you can also use streaming devices to view content from your smartphone such as photos or videos you have taken. 

What Device Is Used for Streaming?

There are numerous different devices available for streaming. These include the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick range, Roku Streaming Stick range, and Chromecast. It's also possible to use games consoles including the Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 to stream content via your TV. 

There's no one perfect streaming device out there. Each device has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

How Do Streaming Devices Work?

A streaming device is a small computer dedicated to streaming content through your TV. It connects to the TV via a HDMI cable and connects to your internet connection via ethernet or Wi-Fi. 

Designed specifically with streaming in mind, their operating systems are limited to just offering apps relevant to their purpose. This tends to include Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other popular streaming services. Either a remote, app or voice controls help you negotiate the menus. 

Do You Need a Streaming Device if You Have a Smart TV?

A smart TV offers similar functionality to a streaming device but a dedicated solution can work better, especially if your smart TV is aging. Here's a look at why. 

  • A streaming device can be faster. Depending on your smart TV, a streaming device can often be faster and more responsive than using your TV. If you're impatient, this is a good solution.
  • More options. Some TVs are not updated as frequently as users may like meaning that streaming devices offer more options and functionality. 
  • Voice control support. Some smart TVs offer voice control support but if your TV is older, it probably doesn't. A streaming device typically provides voice control support which can be useful for those with mobility issues.
  • A streaming device can be simpler to use. TV operating systems can often be quite cluttered to browse. A streaming device is designed with one purpose in mind which often makes it easier to navigate. 
  • Portability. A streaming device isn't dependent on one TV. If you travel often, you can take it with you to use elsewhere. 

If you have a smart TV and it's able to stream the content you want without any trouble then there is no reason to buy a streaming device.

Is Netflix a Streaming Device?

No. Netflix is a streaming service. A streaming service is one that is accessible via a streaming device or smart TV providing you have a subscription. There isn't a dedicated Netflix streaming device. Instead, you can buy one of many different streaming devices that includes a Netflix app.

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