There are many ways to watch online content on your TV. Your television itself might have apps, or you might have a Blu-ray player or game system connected with built-in streaming services. If neither case applies, or if your TV, Blu-ray player, or game system doesn’t have the exact media features you want, you can get a dedicated media streaming hub. Most media streamers allow you to set up your TV with any online or local media streaming services. Among the media streamers currently available, few platforms stand out in India.
Why do you need a media streamer?
Gone are the days of DVD’s or playing downloaded content via USB. Smart TV’s and Media Streamers today, let you access a wide range of online content at a click. With almost unlimited content on Youtube, Netflix, iTunes, Play Store, for some people, media streamers have replaced traditional television. All of this is possible of course, only if you have high speed broadband with unlimited data. Media streamers also let you mirror your browser or laptop screen on the big screen which is great for wireless presentations. A media streamer can also give you easy access to the local content like movies, songs, etc which you already have on your computer and watch it wirelessly on your TV. They are also a great way to show family or friends the photo or video you shot by sharing your phone to the big screen so that everyone can see it instantly.
If you have a new Smart TV and all you wish to do is watch Netflix or Youtube on your HDTV, the Smart TV’s interface will probably suffice. However you may not have smart TV or your old smart TV’s software may not be getting updated. Also, most TV’s require you to type and search using the TV remote which can get clunky. Its way more easier to type and search on your phone. Instead of getting a new TV, a media streamer is enough to make your TV “Smart”.
How to select a media Streamer?
One decision is to choose between Android and Chromecast. If you are invested in the apple ecosystem , own content on iTunes, have and iPhone or iPad then the Apple TV will probably be the best bet for you, since it supports AirPlay and IOS mirroring. Do keep in mind that the Chromecast does support IOS as well. Another factor in your decision is whether you need a dedicated remote to control your TV. A chromecast relies on a smartphone, tablet, or PC with Cast-compatible apps to stream content.
The Best Devices officially available in India
1. Google Chromecast 2
This is one of the siplest devices to use. Google’s Chromecast is a dongle that fits into your TV’s HDMI port. Simply connect your Chromecast to your home network and stream whatever you’re watching (from a Google Cast-compatible app) on your smartphone to your TV. It’s easy to use and cheap. Chromecast works with your phone, tablet or computer, but they do not have to remain connected.
To use Chromecast, you’ll need a TV with HDMI and a fast broadband Internet connection on Wifi. You also need a smartphone or tablet running Android or iOS or a computer with the Chrome browser the same network to control it. Simply install the Google Home app and you are ready to go.
Some of the top apps that work on Chromecast are – Netflix, Youtube, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music, Plex, Videostream, Google Photos, Chrome Browser, Wynk. Do note that there are apps that still do not support Chromecast – e.g.: Apple Music, Hotstar. Most of these are online streaming services, though you can use apps like Plex, Videostream, All Cast, Local Cast which stream local content i.e. downloaded files on your phone or computer on your TV.
2. Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire stick is a small USB stick that you plug in to your HDMI port. It’s different from the Chromecast as it offers a remote to control the device plus an app to enter text which many users find handy. The remote also has voice search which makes it easy to find content. The Fire TV Stick comes pre-loaded with apps. You sign in to your Amazon Prime account and you can access Amazon Prime Video service. While Amazon Prime Video is the focus of the device, apps like Netflix, YouTube, HotStar, Spuul , NDTV, Eros Now, Gaana, Voot, Plex are all pre-loaded.
As with most Smart TV interfaces the most difficult part is entering text on the TV screen using a remote. Amazon solves this by giving you the Amazon Fire TV remote app which can be used to input text and voice commands too. We found the voice based search a little inaccurate occasionally, but over all usable. The only downside to the voice search is that it will only display the results from Prime Videos, and not other streaming apps. The remote is a bluetooth enabled one, not IR and you don’t have to point the remote in any particular direction.
You need an Amazon account to use the Fire TV Stick, but you don’t need a Prime subscription. However, if you are an Amazon Prime member, it makes a lot of sense to get this. Amazon Prime Video comes free for all Prime members right now and it doesn’t support Chromecast. So the only way you get to see content on a big screen is if you connect your computer to your TV with an HDMI cable or by getting the Amazon Fire Stick. In the longer run, Amazon Prime is expected to get more expensive than the Rs. 599 per year fees right now. So if you plan to stick around with Amazon, get the fire stick. The advantage with Amazon Fire TV Stick is that you don’t need your phone to cast the content onto your TV. However we still give the edge to the chromecast as it’s natively supported by Android and a lot of other apps via casting and also helps you mirror your phone, albums, music etc.
3. Apple TV
The Apple Tv is a great streaming box for Apple fans. If you own content in iTunes and are invested in the Apple ecosystem – i.e. own and iPhone, iPad or MacBook, you can consider getting an Apple TV. An Apple Tv lets you stream audio and video from Apple devices and mirror your them on your TV through AirPlay. You can even use AirPlay to use your Tv as an additional Monitor for your MacBook. The new Apple TV offers a very stylish Apple-like streaming interface, with a chargeable motion – sensitive remote that’s a step ahead of the competition.
The Apple TV is the fourth version of the media streaming by Apple. Apple TV supports direct streaming of content from apps on an iPhone or iPad using an Apple technology called AirPlay. If an app doesn’t support AirPlay you can mirror an entire iPad, iPhone and view the whole display. Apple TV now has its own App Store that lets you choose your own streaming services like Netflix, Youtube. It also comes with a voice control remote and Siri (though you cant use it in India as yet).
4. Cloudwalker “Half Ticket TV”
Half Ticket TV is a streaming stick from an Indian company Cloudwalker Streaming Technologies. This product, though based on Android is different from the Chromecast and does not require a phone to control it. Instead, it works on its own like a stand alone product and comes with a remote or an “air mouse”. The device is like a large dongle with an HDMI socket. It comes with a Quad-Core 1.5Ghz CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage and also has a microSD slot for 32GB of additional memory.
It is based on Android 4.4 and once plugged into your TV, you have access to the entire Google Play Store where you can install any app- whether “cast”supported or not. You control all of this by waving the motion controlled remote “air -mouse” and selecting options on the TV. The device’s OS is powered by Android 4.4 KitKat and is well designed. Most apps work well and you can just go to the Google play store on the TV screen and install apps.
5. Amkette EvoTV 2
Amkette EvoTV 2 Something worth mentioning, Amkette EvoTV 2 is a good streaming device with powerful hardware and smart software that delivers an unmatched streaming and media experience. The strongest selection of apps provides a huge selection of the latest movies and TV shows. EvoTV 2 comes with an easy to use interface and the EvoTV Store provides a large library of content waiting to be discovered.
6. Vuuv Media Player
This device is capable of playing all video and audio formats that is present.Some of its top features include 2 GB Ram, 16GB ROM, Ethernet Port for LAN, WiFi. The device supports up to 2TB portable USB hard-disk and it further comes with user friendly interface and is typically easy to operate. The device supports full 4k videos at 60 fps resolution and connects to any TV types including CRTV, LCD, LED.
7. MXQ Pro 4K TV Box
The MXQ Pro 4K is a TV box that streams content like a pro. Loaded with amazing features and running on Android 5.1 Lollipop with a quad-core processor, this TV box is incredible. The best part is that compared to its contemporaries, it comes at a low price. Hence, you can run all the programs you like and ditch your cable connection at an affordable price with the MXQ box. HDMI out port, converts Smart TV into Smart PC, or regular TV into Smart PC, Full Web Browsing, Picture Viewing, Social Networking, make free phone calls with Skype, online video chat, Play Vedio Games, and so on. Amazing for college dorms, bed rooms, home theaters, from anywhere.
Unofficial options in Indian Market
8. NVIDIA SHIELD TV
The NVIDIA SHIELD TV is a sleek Android TV box, which supports 4K HDR content from the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and, of course, YouTube. The streaming player also comes with the Google Assistant on board, allowing you to easily search for content, open apps, and control smart home appliances with your voice. Thanks to its snappy Tegra X1 chipset, up to 500 GB of storage, and an array of exclusive gaming titles, the SHIELD TV will not only stream content for you, but also fulfill your casual gaming needs.
9. Roku Streaming Stick+ Media Player
The Streaming Stick+ is not only the best budget-friendly streaming device, but also our favorite Roku player available today. Like its predecessors, the gadget has been designed to plug directly into the HDMI port of your compatible TV or monitor and stay out of sight. The Streaming Stick+ can stream 4K HDR content from all major streaming services, so it’s well-connected, too. Speedy dual-band Wi-Fi and Roku’s easy-to-use remote control round up the small gadget’s key features.
10. TiVo BOLT VOX DVR & Streaming Player
The TiVo BOLT VOX is a streaming player for those who like to record live TV, as well as access today’s most popular streaming services in 4K resolution. Designed to replace your cable box, the device can simultaneously record up to four shows, then allow you to watch them on your own time and seamlessly skip commercials. You can order the BOLT VOX with up to a whopping 3 TB of storage, so you can record hundreds of hours of HD content. TiVo has updated its signature remote with support for voice commands. The latter allows you to search for any content across all available services with voice. It’s important to note that in order to work, the BOLT VOX requires a $15-per-month TiVo subscription.