The World of Streaming HD Video and Apps

HD Video - Apps

What is a Smart TV?

We are now in the age of  “on demand” having many forms of entertainment right at our fingertips. HD Video, movies, music, television and games are easily accessible by simply launching an app. Smart features are a must-have these days and will be even more of a necessity in the future. Having a device with “Smart” capabilities means that your device connects to the internet and provides online services through applications (apps). These services vary from streaming HD Video to internet games. Some people are even starting to replace cable TV with all online broadcasting apps as their television programming.

Most of the newer flat screen HDTVs feature smart capabilities on board. This means that you can launch apps and streaming HD Video right from the TV requiring only an internet connection. If your TV does not have Smart capabilities you just need a smart Blu-ray player  or a streaming media device. Most current gen gaming systems like PS4 and Xbox One allow you to launch most online apps as well.

Streaming Media Apps and Services

There is a wide variety of apps that provide streaming HD video, music, movies and games. Some apps even allow you to view live and archived TV programming. Many apps are free while some require a monthly or annual subscription fee. For example, YouTube is a free app while Netflix is a paid subscription service. Apps such as iTunes provide media rental services meaning that you can view a movie or video for a specific amount of time for a one time fee. TV networks like ESPN have apps that broadcast live and archived TV programming requiring you to log in through your cable or satellite provider to gain access.

Choosing a Streaming Media Player

Streaming media players or hubs are used for streaming HD video and using online apps. When choosing your device, consider what apps you already use or are currently subscribed to. Some apps are not available on certain devices while some are exclusive to specific devices. For example, iTunes is only available on Apple TV while Amazon Prime is exclusive to Amazon Fire TV.

Google Chromecast

Allows you to access apps using your smartphone as a remote and connects to your TV’s HDMI port. It has the ability to connect to Apple® and android devices as well as your laptop. These devices have the most reasonable price plus the latest Google Chromecast Ultra supports 4K HD video and HDR.

Amazon Fire TV - HD VideoAmazon Fire TV

A great choice if you are already an Amazon Prime member and is overall a top-notch streaming device. It enables you to access most mainstream apps and all Amazon Prime member media including movies, TV shows, music and games. Newer released movie rentals that are not free for members are reasonably priced as well.  A smaller compact version called Amazon Fire TV Stick is a pocket sized device that connects directly into your HDMI port on any HDTV expanding its accessibility. The original Fire TV box does support 4K Ultra HD Video and HDR while the compact Fire Stick currently does not.

 

Roku Media Player - HD VideoRoku

Roku players provide the largest variety of apps in the Roku Channel Store. There are several different Roku players available based on what features you are looking for. The Roku 1 is the only one compatible with older TV’s with no HDMI port and has basic features. Roku 2 adds a faster processor, an Ethernet port along with Wifi, a USB port to play media files and a micro SD slot for extra storage. Roku 3 has the same features as Roku 2 adding a remote with a headphone jack and voice commands. Roku 4 has all of these features adding 4K UHD and HDR resolution with the ability to upscale 720p or 1080p signals. The Roku Streaming stick is a portable version of the Roku 2 and comes with a remote.

 

Apple TV

A good choice for Apple® users connecting all of your devices through AirPlay including your iPhone, iPad and MacBook. You can display content such as pictures and Video on your TV from any of your Apple devices. This is the only player with iTunes and Apple Music making it a great option if you already use these services frequently. Apple TV currently does not support 4K Ultra HD or HDR.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right streaming media player for you just takes a little research. Consider the services you already have and find the apps you are interested in. Finally you can choose the device that supports the apps you will use the most. Refer to FlatScreen 101 for all basics for HDTV.

 


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13 Comments

  1. Everything seems to in order and very neat. There is not a lot of ads to make the pages seem weighed down. The information on UHDTV was pretty cool…and the 4K heck I have never heard of it. Your post is good and I like the one on the PS4. The color scheme is awesome and simple. It is not overburdened with too many colors and they go very well with your images. You did and awesome job on this.

    • Hi Claudette,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the articles and I hope you gained some tech knowledge from it. Any time you’re in the market for a TV or accessories be sure to check here first,

      Thank You for visiting findmyflatscreen.com

      Anton

  2. I have been using a Roku 2 for almost a year now and I have to say it has been pretty great.

    Not only did I save over $1,400 a year by getting rid of my satellite subscription but now I don’t have to worry about recording shows.

    I can simply search for them and play them whenever I want. It took a few weeks to get used to the new format but now I love it!

    • Hi Jeremy,

      I am starting to hear of a lot of people changing to streaming services for their TV programming. Now that they have great resolution settings it’s something most of us have to think about taking a look at. Saving over $1400 is a game changer for sure. I haven’t taken the leap yet but I have close friends that have so I have my eye on it for sure. So I see you like the Roku 2 and I have heard the most positive feedback from Roku users so it’s definitely a recommended product,

      Thanks for sharing!

      Anton

  3. Hi Anton, that’s a really great article highlighting the plethora of “smart TV” and video on demand (VOD) technology we have available these days. It is a far cry from the days of having 5 or 6 channels of broadcast television on a back and white TV set.

    I do development work on mobile “television everywhere” apps for iOS. So I’m literally “in the trenches” integrating support for these various smart TV devices. It keeps us on our toes! Roku and Apple TV are constantly being updated with new capabilities.

    Cheers and Best, Oren

    • Hi Oren, I see you have first hand experience in this area and I really appreciate you sharing how the times are turning to online TV apps. It seems that music, movies, games and television are moving towards ‘on demand’ these days. I’m starting to think Roku and Apple TV are the way to go,

      Thanks for the input,

      Anton

  4. I learned a lot from your article. I usually default all my streaming needs to one of my computers, or on my phone (or tablet).

    I am currently living in China. I our home, we have three smart TVs, but because of the “great firewall”, we often have a difficult time getting programming from outside the mainland. My wife and I use two different VPNs, since we both have android phones and Google is blocked through the local internet services.

    If I purchase one of these devices, will the VPN remain compatible for me to view youtube, and other services blocked on the mainland?

    Thank you for the informative article.

    • Hi Paul, My sister lived outside of the mainland in Hong Kong and had access to YouTube but not Netflix or Hulu. She used torrents for all her streaming but in the mainland she couldn’t get access to anything. From what I have collected whatever your virtual private network allows you to watch now would be the same on a streaming media device. You may need to look into a “Raspberry Pi” and link it to your VPN if you want to stream through torrents to your TV. I hope this info helps,

      Thank You for visiting FindMyFlatScreen.com

      Anton

  5. Thanks for that informative blog about technology available today. Internet has made everything very easy and available for us. I’ve a great interest on the latest technology especially new gadgets we have around especially the HDTV. I didn’t know its possible to stream right from your TV and I think I need one of this type. I’m using an old one which doesn’t connect to the internet and I think its high time to change.

    Thanks so much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog.

    Paul.

  6. Hey there,
    Times have really changed indeed, I like having a high definition quality display on my screen, back then you couldn’t have this.
    Streamin is the way to go now, I like that you can watch whatever you want ,just plug and you have the power in your hands to choose what to watch.
    Thanks for sharing this information, I needed this to understand the different products in the market

    • Hey Joseph,

      It is pretty wild how far we have come with HD media and displays. Streaming media is starting to become the way to go with TV and movies. We are also starting to see contracts with exclusive media for specific streaming services which makes online viewing more more appealing to consumers. Can’t wait to see what’s next

      Thank you for visiting FindMyFlatscreen.com

      Anton

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