TV Streaming Devices 101

by Dean Michaels

These days it’s commonplace for consumers to “cut the cord” on their cable TV services and instead stream their favorite sitcoms, dramas and comedy programs.

If you’re ready to stream shows via Hulu, Netflix, Amazon or other content providers, but still want to use your traditional big-screen TV (vs. just watching on your tablet or shelling out for a smart TV), here’s how to get started:

1: Review the streaming players

There are more than a dozen streaming devices on the market now. The options include set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV that work similar to your old cable box but work via WiFi. Apple TV’s remote allows you to “swipe” through shows and Roku offers premium content subscription, such as Showtime. Also, gaming systems like Xbox can also serve as a set-top box.

Then there are lower-cost “sticks” like Google Chromecast — these are HDMI sticks you plug into the back of your TV to stream shows from Internet services.

2: Double-check your TV

To use TV streaming devices you need a display device with an HDMI input, which looks similar to a USB port — high-definition TVs (HDTV) will definitely come with this port. (By the way, technically you can also connect a laptop to a TV via an HDMI cable to stream content.)

3: Get easy access to your content

Before you buy a set-top box, check out which one will give you the easiest access to your existing subscription services. For example, if you already have an Amazon Prime account, you may just want to get the Amazon Fire TV set-top box, which will give you easy access to your favorite service while still enabling you to log on to Netflix, YouTube or other sites to stream other content. Or you can use its video-game control to play online games too.

Here are some popular TV streaming devices on the market:


Roku is a popular streaming device that offers a wide range of streaming options, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and many others. Roku devices are affordable and easy to use, with a simple interface that makes finding content easy.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV is another popular streaming device that offers access to popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as Amazon Prime Video. The Amazon Fire TV Stick is an affordable option that plugs directly into your TV's HDMI port.

Apple TV

Apple TV is a popular streaming device for Apple users, offering access to Apple's extensive library of movies and TV shows, as well as popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Apple TV also allows you to stream content from your iPhone or iPad.

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast is a small, affordable streaming device that plugs into your TV's HDMI port. Chromecast allows you to stream content from your phone or tablet directly to your TV, as well as access popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Nvidia Shield

Nvidia Shield is a high-end streaming device that offers access to a wide range of streaming services, as well as gaming capabilities. Nvidia Shield is a more expensive option, but it offers powerful performance and advanced features like 4K HDR streaming and voice control.

When choosing a TV streaming device, consider factors like the availability of your favorite streaming services, ease of use, performance, and price. Many streaming devices also offer additional features like voice control and gaming capabilities, so consider your needs and preferences to find the device that best suits you.

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