Connecting your home theater to the Internet opens up a world of content. Here are 10 tips to get the most out of cloud-based delivery.
1. A reliable broadband connection lets you tap into all the content available in the cloud. Don’t skimp on your Internet service if you plan to stream HD or UHD/4K content; get as much downstream bandwidth as you can afford.
2. The best way to deliver Internet content is to connect your devices to your router with Ethernet cables. If you must use Wi-Fi, consider investing in a dual-band router designed for streaming AV content and place it as close as possible to the home-theater equipment.
3. Sometimes, bandwidth is not enough. If you stream Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube during peak viewing times, you might not get the best possible quality.
4. New digital releases are often available weeks ahead of physical discs, and sometimes movies that are still in theaters are available for purchase online. However, there is often a decline in quality compared with Blu-ray.
5. Among outboard streaming devices, Apple TV is a great choice if you use the iTunes ecosystem. Roku provides Vudu, which is one of the best services for movie lovers. Additionally, Roku offers Amazon Instant Video. Amazon’s Fire TV is another good choice if you are a Prime member, but it does not support Vudu or iTunes.
6. Downloading content is an alternative to streaming that assures an uninterrupted viewing experience. Vudu and iTunesboth offer downloadable files on select devices. Kaleidescape lets you download actual Blu-ray data with its player products.
7. Many Blu-ray players feature built-in streaming apps. Also, the PlayStation 3, PS4, and Xbox One are among the best and most flexible platforms for accessing the cloud, and the PS3 supports Vudu downloads.
8. Quite a few Blu-rays discs come with rights to a digital copy from either iTunes or UltraViolet. Often, the cost to buy a disc that includes a digital copy and a digital-only copy of the same movie is about equal.
9. If you want to watch UHD/4K streams from Netflix and other providers, the only way to do so currently is with apps built into UHDTVs. However, a UHD/4K Roku is in the works, and forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players will support UHD/4K streaming as well.
10. Home-theater PCs may seem like a great option for streaming content, but often many providers (such as Netflix,Vudu, and Amazon) don’t offer the highest level of audio or video quality with PC-based playback; iTunes does.