Why use a streaming device anyway? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 11-15-2019, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Why use a streaming device anyway?

I'm getting ready to finally take the 4K plunge and will be looking for a new TV, AVR, and UHD player. So far I'm looking hard at the LG C9, Denon X3500H, and Sony UBP X700 respectively, and will try to find deals on them on Black Friday. Was also thinking about an AppleTV4K as my primary streamer but then.... why?

Sorry if this is a stupid question, seemed like one yesterday but the more I think about it.... if you have a smart TV that has all the apps built in and eARC capability that can send all the advanced audio codecs downstream to your 4K receiver (like the LG C9) and also supports Dolby Vision & HDR10, what is the appeal of a dedicated streaming device like the ATV4K, Firestick, Roku, etc.?

What do they give you that your smart TV doesn't? If your TV is "smart enough" to do everything they do, are they not redundant? What am I missing?
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post #2 of 21 Old 11-15-2019, 08:24 AM
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Prior to my H9F I was on a 10 year old dumb tv so I had to use Roku. Now I have Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney+, Netflix all built in.

That said I mostly use my Fire Stick 4K because it integrates so well with my Ring security system. However if I want to watch my Vudu DV content I have to use the H9F because neither Fire Stick 4K or Roku Premiere+ can do that.

I'm curious is there is a difference in the hardware / quality of internal vs external streaming.
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post #3 of 21 Old 11-15-2019, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomanystraydogs View Post
Prior to my H9F I was on a 10 year old dumb tv so I had to use Roku. Now I have Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney+, Netflix all built in.

That said I mostly use my Fire Stick 4K because it integrates so well with my Ring security system. However if I want to watch my Vudu DV content I have to use the H9F because neither Fire Stick 4K or Roku Premiere+ can do that.

I'm curious is there is a difference in the hardware / quality of internal vs external streaming.
I too have wondered if there are technical and PQ advantages of using external media box. Case in point, new Samsung QLED’s have Apple TV integrated as app. You can get all the iTunes movies and now Apple TV+ content through the app. But is it lesser streaming quality than going through the ATV4k separate box? I have the ATV4k and PQ, audio and upscaling is great but would it be the same if running through the app?
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post #4 of 21 Old 11-15-2019, 09:10 AM
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Why use a streaming device anyway?

External boxes have way more apps and are updated for much longer.
They also have better performance.

Streaming Devices: Nvidia Shield, 2x Roku 3's, 1st/2nd gen chromecast, ATV4k, Apple TV 4, xbox 360/one
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post #5 of 21 Old 11-15-2019, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomanystraydogs View Post
Prior to my H9F I was on a 10 year old dumb tv so I had to use Roku. Now I have Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney+, Netflix all built in.

That said I mostly use my Fire Stick 4K because it integrates so well with my Ring security system. However if I want to watch my Vudu DV content I have to use the H9F because neither Fire Stick 4K or Roku Premiere+ can do that.

I'm curious is there is a difference in the hardware / quality of internal vs external streaming.
Yes, integration with an "ecosystem" of other peripherals and services can be a big reason to use a streamer.

Bottom line- there are 3 "Standard" "TV OS's" out there- Roku, Fire and Android

3rd party App developers will target those three first. With built in apps, you will generally be stuck with the whims of the TV vendor- LG, Samsung, etc.

I generally wouldn't buy a TV without one of the standard TV OS's builtin- RokuTV, FireTV, or AndroidTV.

FireTV is also the only one with a real web browser easily available or installable, FWIW.
(Not counting using a Rpi or Windows mini PC/stick)

As quoted above, we are currently in a stage with a lot of churn and "gotchas"- one streamer or App can do HDR10+, another can do DV, another can't do this or that but can do this.

With always increasing DRM, I think the days of DIY media PC/apps/streaming are over. Yes, you can get Kodi working for a few months , then things break, sources taken offline, etc. Totally useless for non-tech moms/wives/etc.

With the low cost of the streamer sticks, not really an issue to buy a TV with Roku, Android or Fire builtin, then add a stick or 2 to cover all your bases/tech gaps.

Fire and Android have the biggest game libraries at the moment, and all three have the most up to date apps in general vs LG/Samsung's OS's

Heck even full blown WIn PC's are on a stick now if you want bog standard browsers & plugins, desktop apps, and PC games & emulators
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post #6 of 21 Old 11-15-2019, 09:37 PM
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Lets say your new TV last 10 years, there is no guarantee those apps in the set will be updated beyond 3 to 5 years. Streaming apps have been getting fatter, are more resource intensive and benefit from more processor power. You could change your streaming devices as time goes on easily and avoid problems. Buy a TV that actually has a picture you like and add a streaming device when you need to.
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post #7 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 05:00 AM
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Hi,

I noticed you mentioned the X700... Great choice. The X800M2 is just a better build quality version and don't pass that one up if it's on sale. They are both great.

My only 2 sources are X700 and ATV4K.

I think there are 2 reasons to have a streaming device


1- They do so much... give you access to so much and you can set them up so everything is quick and easy to access. I really prefer my ATV4K to my old Roku in terms of the interface.

2- If you have local media servers for audio or video like Plex a steaming box makes a great way to access those. I currently have about 900 of my Blu Rays on my Plex server and also multi channel music.

Also there's another small one, I took my ATV4K with me on vacation ... hooked it up in the house we rented for a week and I was right at home with all my content and a familiar interface.

-Brian
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post #8 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by archer75 View Post
External boxes have way more apps and are updated for much longer.
They also have better performance.
Wow, so much great information here; I'm learning a lot. 'Preciate all you guys' input. Can you expand on the "better performance" angle? I've heard the ATV4K has a really wide pipe for passing lots of bandwidth. Not sure what that means... If the data is coming directly into the TV, then it's getting all the bandwidth available via your broadband connection, no? I'm fortunate to have AT&T fiber coming in, no cap -- 100 GB up & down.

All all streaming devices equal in that regard?
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post #9 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 09:13 AM
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I think there is no easy answer here. I believed, till recently, that streaming boxes were better for reasons already given by others.

To elaborate:
- they usually have beefier innards than the builtin smart tv modules.. (better processors, RAM, sometimes better storage space)

- they are updated more frequently and have a better array of apps and features. For instance, a fire device, roku, shield or Apple TV will probably receive more frequent updates and have a better library of apps than say Tizen on Samsung or WebOS on LG or other mid to lower tier smart TV sets

- they can have a longer life span in terms of updates. Some smart TVs stop getting the latest and greatest features some apps like Netflix roll out. The major streamers usually are the focus for those features and enhancements.

- a streamer is cheaper and more practical for the purpose of upgrading. Some people still have non smart TVs and streamers make sense for them if they want to upgrade or subscribe to a new app.

With that being said: there are some pros to built in smart tv apps that I am now finding out. But only if your smart tv supports some of the major OSs like someone else pointed out. Primarily Android and Roku (FireOs is another variant of Android)

- resolution and refresh rates problems and HDR-SDR conversion problems. Even on devices as expensive and beefy as PS4 and Xboxone, the SDR content looked terrible because by default they transmit the signal as HDR to tv, even if the content is not. Results in weird washed out colors. Some of these devices may have addressed the issue but the n builtin apps, I don’t think this was ever a problem.

- TV apps can provide better upscaling If you have medium to high end smart tv

- at least with roku, fire and amazon, apps are truly 4k HDR if the tv says so in the box. The streaming devices are not very consistent. For instance, Apple TV and nvidia shield still don’t do youtube HDR even though they are advertised as hdr devices.



The above is my “understanding” and I could be wrong on some of the points, since I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, so please feel free to correct the above if you find any errors.

Cheers
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post #10 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 09:20 AM
 
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On some 4K tv's, the picture quality using inbuilt apps actually looks better than using an external streaming device. External streaming device is not a necessity, i don't own an apple 4k tv or roku or amazon fire tv stick and don't intend to own one. The streaming video apps also don't use lossless audio, so using the internal apps and passing audio via ARC is okay.
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post #11 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 09:31 AM
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pretty simple for me really. If you have an iPhone then an appletv is amazing to have. If you use HomeKit than an appletv is amazing to have. The appletv can act as a hub and control your smart lock too. I can control my lights/fans ect from the Siri remote, or my phone. The phone app is most I ever use for it as its really good controller with built in remote(that actually shows you what you type on your phone/unlike android devices cough cough Nvidia shield app). Apple Music on the appletv4k is the best music app visually I've ever seen it really look amazing and polished. I also have an Nvidia shield mainly for its Plex server I don't use it as much as the apple as the picture just looks better on it. Also the interface of the appletv is very high quality. The album covers to the dvd covers and art is just crisp. I never see that on any other streaming device. The shields interface is sorta fuzzy and not really 4k looking like the appletv. Also, if you have any iOS device you can airplay to your appletv but that's nothing new. I can also do that with my MacBook Pro to the tv if I wanted to. I play rain sounds over airplay when I go to sleep or music too. I also use it for infuse which is like Plex for everything else but handles everything beautifully. The infuse player has the best upscale I've seen and I never use the Plex app on my shield(sometimes for playing Atmos files). Thats just the basics of it. I wish tvs just came without all the crap on them and they sold them for less.
You can't upgrade the hardware on your tv if its laggy with some things it will always be laggy. Which most tv's are if you want to do anything hard on it like load Kodi or run bigger apps. The hardware on the appletv4k and Nvidia shield is way better than anything you'll find in a tv. Its only 150$ its a bargain I think. When they do update them every 3-5 years you can upgrade for pretty cheap. You can't do that with a tv. So yes I think "smart tv's" are rather dumb but good for normal consumers which I am not.
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post #12 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenthplanet View Post
Lets say your new TV last 10 years, there is no guarantee those apps in the set will be updated beyond 3 to 5 years. Streaming apps have been getting fatter, are more resource intensive and benefit from more processor power. You could change your streaming devices as time goes on easily and avoid problems. Buy a TV that actually has a picture you like and add a streaming device when you need to.
Agreed.

It should be law that all TV's with "apps" (whatever OS or vendor) MUST be able to be bypassed/fully disabled so the TV acts like a good old "dumb" TV, to ensure operation when the TV vendor no longer supports software updates. MUch better to upgrade sticks on a TV with lots of HDMI inputs
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post #13 of 21 Old 11-16-2019, 12:38 PM
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I use external streamers (FireTV, Roku & Apple) for my two TVs rather than their builtin Apps which are adequate but slow menu wise. I prefer the added control though it adds complexity.

However, my Spouse has a RokuTV and likes the builtin Apps since they are easy to use via the TV remote.
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post #14 of 21 Old 11-17-2019, 09:44 AM
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Another reason to use external streamer is the ability for them to easily increase capability and support via firmware upgrades. Case in point, I just read the following according to Gimodo, "Samsung and Vizio announced that the Netflix app won't work on older smart TV models because they won't support a new standard of digital rights management (DRM) software that Netflix is using." If that is the case and you don't have a streamer, only 2 options, live without Netflix or buy a new smart TV.

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post #15 of 21 Old 11-17-2019, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post
Agreed.

It should be law that all TV's with "apps" (whatever OS or vendor) MUST be able to be bypassed/fully disabled so the TV acts like a good old "dumb" TV, to ensure operation when the TV vendor no longer supports software updates. MUch better to upgrade sticks on a TV with lots of HDMI inputs
Pretty sure that simply not using the built-in apps achieves the same result - without taxpayer funded intrusive government interference.

I'm not aware of any TV that doesn't work when not using built-in NF/AP/Hulu/YT/etc apps - what are the brand(s)/model(s) of of these TVs?
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post #16 of 21 Old 11-17-2019, 12:25 PM
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Definitely get a some kind of streaming device. The smart apps on television from my experience usually run slower and they get dropped from updates way to soon.
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post #17 of 21 Old 11-17-2019, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LG8600User View Post
Pretty sure that simply not using the built-in apps achieves the same result - without taxpayer funded intrusive government interference.

I'm not aware of any TV that doesn't work when not using built-in NF/AP/Hulu/YT/etc apps - what are the brand(s)/model(s) of of these TVs?
https://entertainment.slashdot.org/s...month#comments

Quote:
by red_dragon ( 1761 ) on Thursday November 07, 2019 @03:38PM (#59391786) Homepage
I visited Dad this summer and while there he asked me to look at a TV in his house that could not receive OTA signals. It was an LG smart TV, maybe four or five years old, with built-in wifi. It errored out whenever I tried to do the automatic channel scan. Some online searches mentioned that it required Internet access (?!?) in order to do the channel scan, so I hooked it up to my cellphone's hotspot, but it still produced the same error after that. Further investigation showed that LG decomissioned the servers that the TV needed to download a region file before it'd run the channel scan.

This, having a non-upgradeable embedded computing device dependent on the grace and goodwill of its manufacturer, is why I don't intend to buy a smart TV ever. The issue with these Samsung TVs, while not as bad, still represent a loss of service for owners.
Related to mandatory internet connection vs builtin apps per se, but relying on an external server would be a TV OS/app issue
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post #18 of 21 Old 11-17-2019, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LG8600User View Post
Pretty sure that simply not using the built-in apps achieves the same result - without taxpayer funded intrusive government interference.

I'm not aware of any TV that doesn't work when not using built-in NF/AP/Hulu/YT/etc apps - what are the brand(s)/model(s) of of these TVs?
Yep. I have two, older Samsung Smart TV's that I never use the internal apps on and they work just fine with a cable and/or OTA connection or a streaming device like an ATV or Fire TV. In fact, my C8 upstairs is about as smart as they can be and I never use the internal apps preferring to use ATV4k and a cable connection for local HDTV broadcast network tv only, no streaming.

I never trust an atom, they make up everything.
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post #19 of 21 Old 11-18-2019, 04:58 AM
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I find the internal Android TV apps on my Sony A8G do provide a better picture than any of my streaming hardware boxes (Apple TV 4K, Roku Ultra, Fire Stick 4K). This is especially true for Dolby Vision material. I’m willing to put up with a little slower navigation to get the better performance.
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post #20 of 21 Old 11-20-2019, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LG8600User View Post
Pretty sure that simply not using the built-in apps achieves the same result - without taxpayer funded intrusive government interference.

I'm not aware of any TV that doesn't work when not using built-in NF/AP/Hulu/YT/etc apps - what are the brand(s)/model(s) of of these TVs?
A mandatory "dumb" mode would also address privacy issues in addition to long term software support issues.
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post #21 of 21 Old 11-20-2019, 07:26 AM
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I have YoutubeTV and then the streaming services I rotate (HBO, Netflix, etc). I use a streamer to simply the process for my wife. I wanted the process to be the same no matter what TV she is on vs AppleTV in one room, Roku in another, and so on. I chose Roku because of the cost/performance. I was able to outfit all of the TVs with a Roku for the cost of a single 4K ATV. It really had nothing to do with my smartTV not having the apps and more to do with familiarity.
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