How to Watch TV Programs and Movies Without a Cable TV Subscription
Media streaming is watching your favorite TV programs or movies over the Internet, usually with a streaming media player like a TV box or an Android box. This media player is what connects your TV or state-of-the-art home theater system to the Internet, allowing you to access the content you want from online services. These streaming media players like Apple TV, Roku, or UBOX are simple-looking devices that allow you to access thousands of TV shows and movies through various subscription services.
The term “streaming” is often used to refer to shared media where video and audio are played on one device but saved on another. A streaming media player acts like a faucet for media streaming. It accesses the file you want from a content delivery network and ‘streams’ it to your TV. The file does not need to be downloaded onto your local drive or device before you can watch it.
You also need a fast Internet connection (at least 2Mbps for standard resolution videos and over 3Mbps for HD videos). 4K streaming may even require you to have up to 25Mbps so the video doesn’t have to pause mid-stream as it buffers. (Buffering is several seconds of video that is streamed to your media player so that the video continues playing even if there’s an interruption of your internet connection.)
For a playback device to communicate with the media server, it must be compatible with either of two standards: DLNA, which ensures that your home networking devices communicate and share media so both the media server and the media must be DLNA certified, and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play), which is a more generic sharing solution that allows media servers to communicate with a compatible media player or TV or Android box.
If you already have a Smart TV, you may not need a separate streaming device. A Smart TV can connect to the Internet and run entertainment apps like Internet radio stations, launch web browsers, and access online media streaming services.
If you do not have a Smart TV, you will need a streaming media player, like the UBOX4 or Apple TV 4K. You will need to connect the media player to your TV, usually with an HDMI cable. You will also need to connect the media player to the Internet. Depending on the media player, you may be required to create an account. Some content providers are actually subscription services, and may require additional fees.
The advantage of having streaming media players is that they are often large and powerful enough to support game controllers and the different apps that give you access to hundreds, even thousands, of TV shows and movies through subscription services like Netflix, HBO GO and Hulu.
So how do you choose which media streaming device to buy? Stay tuned for our next blog posts where we compare the more popular media streaming players available.