Television as we used to know it is a thing of the past and that’s mainly thanks to the streaming revolution, which shows no sign of halting anytime soon. If you’re not yet on board with the whole streaming thing, it’s time to learn more about it and find out how to make the most of everything streaming has to offer.
This guide is going to help you to do exactly that. As a smart home installer ourselves, we’ll cover everything you need in order to start streaming, before covering the platforms and ways in which you can stream. Read on now to learn more about all this.
What You’ll Need In Order To Start Streaming
In terms of the most basic equipment you need in order to stream content, the only thing that’s absolutely essential is an internet connection and enough money to pay for whichever streaming service you choose.
Of course, you’ll need a screen to watch it on. This can be a TV, phone, tablet, laptop or computer. But, because we’re talking about home entertainment, it’ll probably be a TV.
These days, the TVs you can buy are often capable of running streaming services very easily without anything else being connected. These are Smart TVs and they’re quickly becoming the norm.
If you don’t have a Smart TV, plenty of devices run streaming services, including video game consoles or you can connect a laptop and display the laptop’s image (as it streams) on the TV. To make those connections to your TV, you’ll need an HDMI cable too.
You might also want to think about speakers if you’re looking to achieve a more high-end streaming experience. Separate speakers offer much better sound quality than the speakers that are built into your TV, but it’s obviously not essential to use them. There are both wired and wireless speakers that utilise Bluetooth options available.
There’s also hardware that helps you to stream without the need for connecting a laptop or a device like a video game console. For example, you can use a Google Chromecast. This allows you to stream TV content from apps on your phone (such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube etc.) to your TV via the Chromecast, which plugs directly into the HDMI port on the back of your TV.
Of course, all of this requires connecting your phone to the internet and linking it to the Chromecast via your Wifi. Apple TV is another alternative option, which works in a similar way but without the casting mechanism.
The Various Streaming Platforms To Consider
There are plenty of options to choose between when it comes to platforms and different ways to stream TV and movies. Here are some of the most popular options to consider:
Netflix is the king of streaming and its platform is currently number 1 in the world. It has a very wide range of TV content, movies and original content made by Netflix themselves. It’s the first port of call when it comes to TV streaming.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime is the main challenger to Netflix, and although it hasn’t nailed the original content that Netflix has become so good at, it does have a lot to offer and it’s pretty easy to navigate. If you have a full Prime membership, you get Amazon Prime Video for free.
NOW TV has a range of packages: the most popular being the Entertainment Pass and the Cinema Pass. As you might have guessed, the former have TV shows to watch and the latter has movies. There’s quite a lot of TV for you to browse and view on the Entertainment Pass, so it’s worth considering.
TV Catch Up Channels
There’s also a range of apps that allow you to catch up with TV content if you missed it when it originally aired on TV. These include BBC iPlayer, All 4 and ITV Hub. These services are free to use in the UK and they have an expanding range of TV content for you to view.
The Costs Of TV Streaming
So, how much does it cost to start streaming TV content? Well, it depends on the approach you wish to take. If you already have a Smart TV, you won’t need to buy any extra hardware. But if you have a regular TV, you’ll need to buy an Apple TV, Chromecast Ultra, Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku Streaming Stick. Here are the prices you can expect to pay for those devices:
Apple TV 4K 32GB: £179 (£199 for 64GB)
Amazon Fire TV Stick: £39.99
Roku Streaming Stick: £29.99
These are the prices for the most recent generations and iterations of these devices (correct at the time of writing this article). You can find more affordable options if you buy previous models that don’t have all of the most up-to-date features.
Of course, you’ll need to pay for the subscription service you choose as well. The prices for these are not too bad because there’s no upfront cost for you to pay. Instead, you pay for them on a monthly subscription basis in the vast majority of cases. Here are the UK prices for these streaming services (correct at the time of writing this article):
Netflix: £7.99 (£9.99 for Premium)
Amazon Prime Video: £5.99 per month
NOW TV Entertainment Pass: £7.99 per month
The Importance Of A Good Internet Connection
Another cost that you’ll have to take into account, which I’m sure you’ll already have in place, is your internet connection. You need a good connection if you’re going to stream content reliably. If you don’t, you’ll end up dealing with things like buffering and no one wants that!
So, before you start streaming, it might be a good idea to check the speed and bandwidth of your broadband connection. You can do this easily using any free online tool such as speedtest.net. That way, you can be sure that your streaming experience is the best it can be.
If in doubt, or if you feel your internet connection could be improved, feel free to give us a call on 020 8638 0200 (for our IT Support London Office) or 01273 686 442 (for our IT Support Brighton Office). As an IT support company and smart home installer in London, we can talk through your options and even help you with the setup.
Streaming is the norm for many homes these days, so if you haven’t embraced everything it offers yet, now is the time to jump on board. Hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you need and helped to answer any questions you had along the way. Now, all that’s left to do is take action and start streaming.