When we watch videos over the internet using computers or mobile devices, we are using a technology commonly referred to as streaming. Streaming transmits audio and/or video data primarily, as one continuous flow, allowing viewers to watch almost immediately.
Let’s use videos on your mobile phone as an example here. There are two ways to get video to your mobile device: progressive downloads and streaming. The traditional way, progressive downloading, is achieved by downloading a video in its entirety and then watching it once the download is complete. Streaming, on the other hand, is the new standard, and it allows you to watch content immediately before an entire file is downloaded.
The big difference between streaming and downloads is in how the file itself is handled. For downloads, the file remains on your device until you delete it. When streaming, the data is automatically deleted once you are done using it. Videos you watch on YouTube aren’t saved on your mobile device automatically and in fact can only be downloaded if you pay for a premium account. Having the entire file on your device has its advantages, like the ability to watch offline, but streaming is certainly the way of the present and future.
Let’s look at a few ways you can stream video content below:
A smart TV is simply a television that connects to the Internet, which means you can enjoy things like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube (we’ll discuss these more below as well) right on your TV. The majority of TVs built today have smart capabilities.
The primary benefits of a smart TV are the ability to surf the Internet, access to online applications, and, most importantly, the ability to stream content.
Some of the best/most popular smart TVs on the market today come from LG, Samsung, and Sony. Some of the smart TVs even double as “smart hubs” that give you the ability to control smart lighting, thermostats, and other aspects of your (smart) home.
This group includes services requiring hardware that plugs into your TV so you can access your online content. The hardware itself will get you online and from there you’ll see that some services/apps are free, such as YouTube, while others require a subscription (like Hulu and Amazon Prime).
It may seem strange to acquire a gaming system if you’re not a gamer, but they are also great for accessing online video content. Even if you are only slightly interested in gaming, the systems are a great option because they have 2 clear benefits – play games or play videos!
While Chromecast also requires a physical device to access your content like Roku and Amazon Firestick (mentioned above), we feel it deserves its own category because it is compatible with so many devices (PCs, Macs, Android devices, and Apple devices) and you can access a very large number of streaming apps with it – just check out this list of compatible apps! Once it’s connected, you simply play a video on a device like a smartphone, tap the Chromecast icon on the video, and the content will automatically display on your TV instead of your phone.
As mentioned earlier, some of these will require a subscription to access full content material. The more popular applications include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Crackle, and HBO to name a few.
|Streaming Service||Best for|
|Amazon Prime Video||Families|
|Sling Orange||Budget Cable TV Replacement|
|HBO GO, HBO NOW||Premium Content|
It’s also certainly worth mentioning that you will need a good wireless router and fairly fast Internet connection, as the video stream data quality requires this. For Standard Definition (SD) videos, a 2 megabit per second (Mbps) connection is necessary. For HD (High Definition) quality and 4K content, a minimum speed of 5 Mbps for HD and 9Mbps for 4K is required.