Just because you don’t have a Smart TV doesn’t mean you can’t still stream in comfort. If you have a regular flat screen TV at home and you want to switch to streaming without going out and buying a Smart TV you have various options.
NB: Whichever of the following options you decide to try, you will need to sign up to a service such as Netflix, Showmax, Amazon Prime or Hulu to be able to enjoy all the benefits of streaming.
You will also need an active internet connection, preferably a Fibre line of at least 10Mbps or more.
Amazon Fire Stick
Needless to say, Amazon is an American offering which is new to the South African TV scene, but thanks to the wonders of the internet we now access many of these services in South Africa. The Amazon Fire stick plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port and is controlled with the Amazon remote control which comes with it.
It’s fairly easy to use.
Just plug it in, and then using your regular TV remote, and select HDMI as your input method.
It should bring up the Fire home screen. From here you will be able to navigate to various channels (such as Prime TV, Netflix, etc.) and select whichever of these services you have an account with.
If you haven’t already set up an account on any streaming service it is best to complete this part of the process via your laptop or Android device. It’s much easier to get into your account if it’s already set up.
Another way to turn your regular flat-screen TV into a Smart hub for streaming is to use the Google Chromecast device.
Not much bigger than a USB flash drive, the Chromecast can also be plugged directly into your HDMI port at the back of your TV.
Chromecast works by broadcasting a signal from your device directly to the receiver (the bit you plug into your TV) so you will need a phone or tablet which you can stream onto in order for the set-up to work.
You need to download the Chromecast app onto your device so that it can link up with the Chromecast receiver.
Once you are streaming onto your Android device, use the Chromecast app to “cast” the show to your TV using the device.
The entire system is controlled via the app on your device.
While quite a cost effective option, the disadvantage of Chromecast is that it’s not a standalone product like the others listed here, and you will need to have a suitable device to stream onto in order for it to work.
If you’re an Apple user then it’s a “no brainer” that this one is for you.
You will need to buy an HDMI cable before you can get set up because it doesn’t come in the box. Once you have it, you can connect your Apple TV via the HDMI cable.
Again, use your TV’s HDMI port and select this as your input method with your usual TV remote, and make sure your Wifi is up and running before you get going.
If you have an iPhone or iPad you can use it to set up your network and log into your Apple account. This is something you can do over Bluetooth. This is very handy for adding your passwords and usernames because it can be pretty tricky to do using the Apple TV remote that comes with your device.
It also brings the power of Siri to your TV.
Once you’re set up you can decide if you’re going to make use of the Apple store to download movies and music, or if you want to use it to connect to your other streaming accounts.
You can also decide if you want to set up location services, diagnostic data and all of the other integrated aspects of the Apple world.
Then you’re good to go.
Roku Streaming Stick
Roku’s streaming media player is one of the most user-friendly options (in our experience). It’s not affiliated to any particular streaming service so it will give you easy access to whatever it is that you’re looking for, although the remote does feature handy buttons that will take you directly to some services (such as Netflix and Hulu).
The device slots into your TV’s HDMI port and connects your TV directly to the internet via your Wifi, giving you a user-friendly home screen to help you navigate around your streaming services.
Some of the newer models also sport voice control via the remote control, which makes it easier than ever to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Or just get a Smart TV
If you feel like all of these options require too many additional bits and bobs, you can always opt to buy a Smart TV instead, which comes with all of your favourite streaming services integrated directly into your TV.
The disadvantage is that you never know when the next feature will be released, and you may buy a Smart TV today only to have them bring out a newer, more exciting viewing solution a few months down the line. But isn’t that always the risk we take when investing in new tech?