Streaming is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to consume content. Whether it’s videos, TV, music or games, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be able to find a service and a compatible device. Video platforms such as YouTube and audio services such as Spotify have transformed the way we spend our leisure time, and that shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
According to YouTube’s latest statistics, over 300 hours of video content is uploaded to the service every minute, almost 5 billion videos are watched every day, and over 1.3 billion people use YouTube. Similarly Spotify recently passed the 50 million paying user mark and boasts over 30 million songs, with an additional 20,000 being added each day.
That is a lot of content to consume, but what’s the best way to enjoy it? Take a look at CBR’s list of the best streaming devices to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your media.
Smartphones are probably the most ubiquitous method of streaming these days and according to Ericsson Mobil Report there will be 6.1 billion in the world by 2020. Dramatically faster 5G connections are also expected to arrive en-masse over the next few years, something which will certainly see our rate of content consumption sky rocket.
Currently smartphones can be used to stream videos and music from a range of different apps and browsers making them incredibly convenient. Apple Music, Spotify, Netflix and YouTube all have mobile apps capable of streaming high quality media, provided you have the connection for it. The fact you can carry all of this around in your pocket is just one of the many things that has made smartphones so overwhelmingly popular for streaming.
However, the downsides of the devices include the low tinny volume settings, unless you’re using headphones, and the relatively small screen sizes, hardly ideal for streaming the latest blockbuster. But of course media streaming is not the primary purpose of smartphones and these are the sacrifices made for portability.
Smart TVs are a fairly recent addition to homes, but they’ve helped to augment our living rooms with the simple addition of internet capable TVs. These TVs are now compatible with most of the media apps you’d expect to find on your smartphone but with a much, much bigger screen.
Smart TVs make an ideal viewing platform, especially for that new Netflix special you’re currently bingeing on, or if you want to browse YouTube from the comfort of your sofa it’s also possible to turn your phone’s YouTube app into a remote control in a few easy steps. Additionally, if you’re in possession of some heavy duty speakers, they can make an excellent 21st century replacement for a stereo system at parties by utilising the latest music streaming apps.
Naturally, a TV isn’t exactly the most portable device in the world, and they can get pretty pricey, especially towards the top end, but If you’re looking to build an anchored home entertainment system then a smart TV is a smart way to satisfy your streaming needs.
What device did the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch stream the Tibetan Freedom Concert to back in 1996?
Consoles are much more than gaming platforms these days; recent iterations of both the Xbox and PlayStation have long been communicating the idea to customers that these are ‘entertainment hubs’ for all facets of multimedia, including streaming.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both offer a myriad of streaming apps that go well beyond the big hitters like Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. Apps such as Crunchyroll and WWE network offer specialised content such as Anime and Wrestling, respectively.
The downsides with console streaming is that most of the options offered are already included with smart TVs, and considering you already need a TV to use a console that seems like a fairly moot point. However, consoles are becoming increasingly capable of streaming games, something that a TV can’t do. PlayStation Now is capable of streaming both PS3 and PS4 games up to 720p, something which has helped to cement consoles as one of the best streaming devices.
PCs have long been the dominant force for streaming media, something which has been available to Windows consumers as far back as 1996 when the Beastie Boys’ own Adam Yauch streamed the Tibetan Freedom Concert. Over the last 20 years, higher bandwidth connections and the advent of high speed broadband have only helped to enhance home PC’s media streaming capabilities.
Currently, there are a nigh on infinite number of channels to stream media on your PC or laptop, so if you’re looking for a versatile streaming solution, then the old standard is probably the best.
Whilst other more portable streaming devices, such as phones or tablets, can be found for significantly lower costs it’s hard to overstate just how much variety PCs offer. The choice is so astronomical that now there are even specific sites, such as canistream.it and More Flicks, which are dedicated to explaining which content can be found on what service, like TV Guide for the internet age.
Tablets are a great middle ground for streaming, they offer excellent portability, larger resolutions than smartphones, and a varied choice of apps. However, the resolution still isn’t enormous, many of them require Wi-Fi connections, and you cannot access some apps, making tablets very much a jack of all trades and master of none.
With that said, if you’re not looking for a hyper specific use case, or something just for travel, you can’t really do any better than a tablet. Smaller than a laptop and bigger than a phone means that whilst you probably won’t have a great time watching a special effects blockbuster, you’ll have no bother at all with TV shows and music. Whether you’re flying, on the train, or just lying in bed, a tablet makes an ideal streaming device.
The ever falling prices of tablets also means that they won’t break the bank in your quest for a better streaming solution. The varied range of tablets on the market today come with better battery life than in the past, and a range of different screen sizes ensuring that you’ll be able to find the device that’s right for you.