Connecting with your TV: three devices to enable you to access streaming apps – including Netflix and YouTube
Whether you choose Google’s Chromecast, the Amazon Fire Stick with Alexa Voice Control, or Roku Express+, a number of devices are available that can be connected to your TV to enable you to watch streamed programming
Like it or not, internet streaming is now ubiquitous in modern-day living. Whether you live a “Netflix and chill” kind of life, or enjoy watching YouTube tutorials or video blogs, you may find that you’re spending far more time on your tablet or laptop and neglecting your TV.
The downside of streaming, however, is the size of the screen. That’s where streaming boxes and sticks come in – these nifty devices combine the magic of the two.
Brought to you by Google, Chromecast is a device which plugs into the HDMI port of your existing TV. When plugged in, you can connect your mobile phone, tablets, laptop or Chromebook to your TV, and use it as the remote.
It is perfect for even those who are technophobes. The only requirements to get Chromecast up and running is a TV with an HDMI port, a Wi-fi network, and a compatible computer or mobile device. Compatible devices include those running Android 4.1+, iOS 7.0+, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.7 or ChromeOS.
Once plugged in, simply select the HDMI setting on your TV and download the Google Home app on your device.
While connected there is no need to worry that any calls, texts, emails or tweets will interrupt the stream. Chromecast has a multitasking capability which allows you to continue using your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone even while synced to your TV.
While it is usually tucked away behind your TV, rendering its appearance essentially unimportant, Google does offer the device in an array of colours, including classic black, coral and lemonade.
In Hong Kong, Chromecast is available through the Google store or as part of a home entertainment package.
2. Amazon Fire Stick with Alexa Voice Control
Similar to Chromecast, the Amazon Fire Stick plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI to stream TV shows and movies direct onto your TV.
The latest version has been updated with the Alexa Voice Control. Think of Alexa as Amazon’s answer to Apple’s Siri. Alexa can be asked to find you, for example, a romantic comedy or a documentary to watch. It can tell you the best viewing options too, such as whether you should watch, stream, rent or buy the episode or movie.
With Amazon Video content, you can even use your voice to initiate playback or fast-forward, to scenes you may have watched earlier or wish to jump ahead to. Gone are the days of fumbling around to find that precise scene or sentence you missed.
Beyond TV, Alexa can also assist you with creating to-do lists, checking the weather, or getting news updates and more.
Another highlight is that the portable USB device allows users to pick up where they left off in any episode or movie. Whether stopping over at a friend’s house to continue with a movie marathon session, or travelling, all you have to do is plug the Amazon Fire Stick into the TV’s HDMI port and connect to Wi-fi – et voila, you can continue watching exactly where you stopped last.
It also comes with free cloud storage for all Amazon content for movie and TV buffs out there who want to add to their collections.
For those with Amazon Prime, this is an ideal choice. As a Prime Member, you can use Amazon Fire Stick to access TV episodes, movies and original Amazon content directly on your TV.
It is available through Amazon.com.
3. Roku Express+
Maybe your TV is so neglected that it hasn’t been updated into a version which has an HDMI input yet. That’s where Roku Express+ fits in.
The streaming player supports older TVs by offering an analogue A/V output via a composite jack and a composite A/V cable (red/white/yellow) which can then be plugged in. What is required, though, is functioning Wi-fi.
Again it features a host of features and access to a range of streaming apps including Netflix and YouTube.