We live in a world where on demand TV is the norm. But some of us don’t have very expensive on-demand TV boxes or aren’t willing to pay for on-demand channels.
Some of us would like to watch YouTube on the big screen. Since you are here I have few options for you if you want to take all the control into your hand (literally!).
When I originally wrote this article I had only captured some of the available services. I am going to add one more streaming service now available in the market.
Namely Roku. Roku is a big player now with even a TV integration.
Lets see what Roku got to offer.
What is Roku Streaming stick?
I first bought Roku when I was living myself in a flat. I had a singles life which amounts to a lot of time to yourself once the work day is over. You end up spending a lot of this time binge-watching shows across multiple platforms.
I bought it because I couldn’t watch Amazon Prime videos on the big screen using Chromecast. This meant that I needed to spend more of my hard earned cash purchasing an additional device.
It probably paid off because in the end because it was definitely worth it.
I’ll explain why it was worth it. Living a singles life also meant that I was sharing a flat with loads of other people who had different schedules than me. Some went to sleep before I did.
As much as we would like to go on about how terrible it is to leave with absolute strangers, we’re all humans and do respect everyone else’s comfort.
As you can imagine if you’re watching some action packed Netflix series, you would be sending a lot of TV noise across your neighbours room.
This isn’t helped by the most awful bedroom walls that some of us have which fails to even dampen out your breathing.
In fact the manner in which these walls are built (two sets of gypsum plaster boards) almost amplifies every movement of your knife and fork that you use to eat in your bedroom.
You’re probably wondering “why eat in your bedroom”? because our landlord wants to make the maximum amount of money and has decided to rent out the living room.
Anyways, we’ll do run down of bedroom walls next time. For now, we’ll carry on with the Roku streaming device.
The reason I brought up the TV noise in shared accommodation is because Roku has the solution for this. Yes you heard right, Roku streaming device has the solution to TV noise in shared accommodation. I can’t say it again.
Although Roku ships a tiny (and useful) remote in the box, you can download an app-based remote from either the App Store or Google Play.
Once you’ve paired your phone (with the app) and the Roku Streaming stick, head over to the remote option on the app. There you will see a headphone icon as shown below:
Clicking on this headphone icon will activate “Private Listening“. This is made even better if you have a set of Bluetooth headphones that you can connect to your phone.
Now put your phone on standby mode and enjoy your Netflix. No complaints from your neighbours of loud TV noise. Magic!
Other reasons this device is incredible is because, its loaded with a tone of apps that other streaming devices don’t have.
- It has an amazing “Private Listening” option
- Multiple platforms including Now TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos
- Ships with a physical remote
What is Google Chromecast?
A revolutionary device engineered by Google which comes in a form of a small dongle. It allows you to ‘cast’ internet-streamed content on to your TV via your smartphone (both iPhones and Androids). Your TV will need to be HDMI enabled or have a HDMI port where the device will be connected.
The device has a very large library of supported apps some of which Google has built themselves.
Dozens of third parties have also added support for the device in recent years (including Sky’s Now TV and Netflix).
The device is very simple to set-up and most apps will know if a Chromecast is nearby and will display the icon below (which if you press will intiate streaming of content to the TV/Monitor your Chromecast is connected to).
There is a tone of things you can do with the Chromecast. To begin with you can stream almost anything as long as you have the app and it sports casting.
Download the YouTube app and you can stream NBA games and UFC shows right to your TV provided they are showing on YouTube.
The following some of the specially designed apps for sports:
- UFC – if you have the fight pass you can stream UFC shows to your TV
- NBA – they have listed their own app on Chromecast library
- BBC Sport and BBC Sport have created separate spaces for their respective channels and shows.
Streaming music onto your meg size screens have now become a piece of cake with Vevo and Spotify creating this option on Chromecast.
- Multiple platforms including Now TV, Netflix, BBC iPlayer
- Has a huge library of apps
- Doesn’t ship with a physical remote
What is Amazon’s Fire Stick?
This device is also produced by another giant: Amazon. It works pretty similar to how Chromecast works, however it has 8GB of storage and also has support for Bluetooth.
The FireStick also comes with a TV remote to control playback. Recently Amazon has released an updated version with support for Alexa Voice.
This functionality allows you to talk to your device to control the FireStick. We will cover more of Alexa Voice in another article.
Amazon has plenty of other product in these line with various names such as Echo and Echo Dot which all support the Alexa natural speech processing technology.
The Fire Stick has the added benefit of supporting the Amazon Prime Video service which is offered free of charge for Amazon Prime members. Yes take note of that.
The service provides a large list of movies and TV series to include Outlander and Ripper Street.
Amazon continuously updates this list and one of my favorite is the History Channel’s hit show ‘Vikings’.
- Multiple platforms including Now TV, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and of course Amazon Prime Videos
- Ships with a physical remote
- Supports Alexa voice recognition