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, usually via an HDMI port on the back of our TV. 

A streaming device is a valuable way of expanding your options for watching 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 an HDMI cable and uses your internet connection via ethernet or Wi-Fi. 

Explicitly designed with streaming in mind, their operating systems are limited to offering apps relevant to their purpose. Apps include Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other popular streaming services. A remote, app, or voice control helps 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. So if you're impatient, this is a good solution.
  • More options. Some TVs don't get updates as frequently as streaming devices, which offer more options and functionality. 
  • Voice control support. Some smart TVs offer voice control support, but it probably doesn't if your TV is older. A streaming device typically provides voice control support which can be helpful 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, making it easier to navigate. 
  • Portability. A streaming device isn't dependent on one TV. So if you travel often, you can take it with you to use elsewhere. 

If you have a smart TV and can stream the content you want without any trouble, there is no reason to buy a streaming device.

Is Netflix a Streaming Device?

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

  • What is the difference between a router and streaming device?

    While a streaming device lets you stream shows, movies, and other media to a TV, a router is for home networking. A router facilitates communication between devices on your network, such as computers and other connected devices, and the internet.

  • What is 4K on a streaming device?

    4K resolution refers to 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels. Many streaming sources, such as Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon, provide 4K content. However, your streaming device and TV must also support 4K media.

Was this page helpful?