It’s time to address the issue of Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes again. Why? Because they both represent compelling choices for cord cutters. There are good reasons to use either and a pretty good argument for both at the same time.
Almost every TV is a smart TV now
I take a look at TV’s almost weekly by stopping in on places like Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Stores like that are a great way to take the pulse of the market because stores are not going to waste shelf space on things nobody wants, at least not for long. What I am discovering is that it
is getting more and more difficult to find a full-fledged television that does not support some apps. Don’t confuse TVs with HD displays. They look like TVs but do not have tuners in them.
The most popular apps are almost universally included on Smart TVs
Most of the TV’s offer what you might think of as the pop chart toppers of Apps. You will not find a smart TV on the market that does not include say, Netflix. Amazon Prime Video is becoming more and more ubiquitous on smart TVs as well. It is hard to leave Hulu and YouTube are off TVs. Sling TV is finding its way on to more and more smart TV platforms.
older TV operating systems. Maybe between that handful of apps, you can be perfectly satisfied. You get an internet connected TV without having any extra cords nor the need to keep up with extra remotes.
So that means I don’t need anything but a smart TV Right
There are some drawbacks. For instance, while a lot of streaming boxes support thousands of apps, many smart TVs support hundreds. My LG TV, for instance, offers 192 apps. Among that total are some screensavers and rudimentary tools. There are 38 low-end games. There are also a number of channels specifically targetting international audiences like a Turkish horse racing app or Vietnamese TV. On The other hand DirecTV Now the
cable replacement service from AT&T is absent. As is Philo, Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue. Network apps like NBC, ABC and other TV everywhere apps are also absent.
TV apps are not updated as often and sometimes just die off
Anyone who experienced the loss of YouTube on their TV when YouTube updated its API knows what I’m talking about here. YouTube is usually included on smart TVs but that doesn’t mean it will always work. YouTube is not the only popular app to change its user experience. Netflix has updated its look and feel many times since it began to appear on Smart TVs and every other device. And now and then as these companies evolve they will drop support for older platforms. This even happens to a point with older set-top devices.
What is different about Streaming devices?
TVs are primarily built with a couple of things in mind. Pixels, Screen size, price and performance
top the list. Apps are sort of thrown in as an extra. Why? There has never been a statement on the matter from manufacturers but my guess is that cord cutting has not reached the numbers needed to make it a focus. Streaming devices, on the other hand, are on the cutting edge of this world. While none of them is expressly a cord cutting device having a Roku, Fire TV, Android TV box or Apple TV will certainly give users more options. The boxes, or in some cases dongles, are made specifically to deliver streaming content. Streaming devices have an almost confounding number of app choices from the majors that we spoke of earlier to things you may have never realized you wanted.
Cord cutting TV options Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes who has the most?
Some people call anything involving streaming cord cutting. But there is no doubt that people are using streaming services as a way to move on from cable. Because of this lots of companies are getting into the game to offer services that can replicate cable tv in part. Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube Fubo TV are the most well-known ones at the moment. I don’t include CBS All Access in that list because it does not offer cable channels. Not every streaming device offers access to every single one of those services but they do offer most of them across their respective platforms. All of them are going to offer more than most Smart TVs.
Sports Streaming Options
Whether you want mainstream American sports options or international flare your best bet is one of the streaming platforms. Roku has the biggest variety of options. All of the major players though offer things like the official NBA and MLB, apps, The ESPN App (which will soon be a portal to a standalone sports service) as well as many others. The vast majority of sports fans in the US are going to want to know things like “Can I watch the baseball game, can I watch the NHL and so on. If you have a streaming box the answer is much more likely to be yes.
Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes Streaming boxes get updated first
When a major update comes along for an app or service the streaming media players are going to be the first to the party. Why? Probably because they have stable platforms and an easy to recognize and target audience. App developers know that Apple is not going to abandon TVOS and Amazon is not going to stop supporting Fire OS. This means that developers can launch new features according to the specs of 4 platforms, Android TV, Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV and get the
biggest bang for their buck. Pluss with over a dozen smart TV OS systems out there it can make rolling out updates much more difficult.
Streaming devices are more replaceable
If you have a TV already, even if it is a Smart TV you might want to stay up to date on available services. If the company behind your TV decides to switch things up, in the way that say Vizio has a number of times it may be hard to depend on getting updates. Simply put, TV’s are more expensive to replace than a streaming device. Streaming devices also have a pretty long life cycle.
The generation 4 Apple TV is still as good a device as it was when it launched despite the 4K version that recently dropped. A Roku 4 can hold its own just fine with the second iteration of the Roku Ultra. All of those devices offer apps in the same way despite being a few years older. But if you have an 8-year-old Roku you can update for less then 100.00. The Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes debate may be mute if you need to upgrade both a TV and a streaming device.
The marriage of platform and TV makers
There may be an end coming to the debate of Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes. More and more TV brands have begun to partner with major streaming platforms in an attempt to simplify their experience and pass off app development to someone else. You can find TV’s with the Roku operating system built into many TV’s. Android TV and Fire TV are on a number of TVs as well. This means that the TV will get the latest apps. It also means that you can get more support from the actual companies instead of the TV manufacturer. There are a lot more support videos about the big four operating systems than any of the smart TV OS platforms.
Is it worth it to have both?
Yes. Like I said to start. Most TVs are built with apps. This means buying a TV has more to do with other things like the number of HDMI ports and other connectors, screen size and things like that. And while you will get apps on these TV’s small purchase like a Roku Streaming Stick or Fire TV Stick can really increase the value of your TV to you and your family. Let’s say you get one of the TVs with the platform built in. A Roku Powered TV with a Mi Box attached would open up two
platforms for very little extra. An Amazon powered TV with a Roku attached would ensure there would be next to no app you couldn’t grab.
Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes Conclusion
The most important thing about TV Apps is longevity. If apps are the most important thing about TV viewing in your home then it is very important to have the right tools for the job. If on the other hand you still watch most of your TV through a legacy TV provider like a cable or satellite company for the biggest screen you can get at the most affordable price and look at the apps as a bonus. Even if you don’t get to use them a few years from now. In the end, Smart TV’s VS Streaming Boxes not be a big debate as they continue to merge. But until then give it some thought.