It might be a bit of a cliché to call it a “streaming revolution,” but the rapid rise of Netflix and Stan over the last couple of years makes the term seem appropriate. They’ve changed the way we consume television. We now have the flexibility to catch up with shows and movies on our own schedule. Not to mention the ability to watch entire seasons in one “binge” session rather than wait for weekly instalments. All for a modest monthly subscription.
Of course, we’re talking about internet-based streaming services rather than broadcast TV channels. So if you want to watch these services on your big screen TV, you need to get those streams over to your TV. And that’s something you really should be doing, too. While it’s quick and convenient to watch Netflix or Stan on a computer monitor or a tablet, you’re missing out on the remarkable picture quality these services offer.
Both Netflix and Stan can stream at up to 4K if your TV (and broadband connection) supports it. Even at standard HD (which most shows and movies are streamed at) you’ll be getting quality that comes close to that of Blu-Ray discs. And let’s not forget the other big plus – being able to sink into the couch, pick up a remote and stream anything you like without hassle. Just like regular TV, except you call the shots!
So, how can you move your stream to the big screen? It’s easier than you might think. Moreover, depending on how you do it, it can be surprisingly cheap as well.
If you’ve bought your TV in the past few years, it’s very likely a “smart” TV. In other words, it can connect to the internet, and can run apps to give you access to a range of extra content. Almost all smart TVs sold today come with a Netflix app built in. Stan, meanwhile, is rolling out apps progressively, with native support in many Sony, Samsung and LG TVs already.
All you need to do is run the app for the streaming service you’re after, login and start watching – it doesn’t get easier or more elegant than that! There’s one downside to smart TVs, though. Their apps tend to not be updated after a couple of years, and can eventually become incompatible with services. TVs that run the Android operating system are less prone to this, as apps don’t need to be made especially for that brand or model.
A vast number of households have one or more game consoles plugged into the TV, with kids and adults alike playing more video games than ever before. But for over a decade now, game consoles have been about more than just playing games. They’re basically self-contained computers with a ready-made TV connection and they can run not only games, but a wide range of apps as well. That makes them perfect devices for streaming services to get apps in front of millions of people. And the big players have all made sure that they’ve got easily installed apps ready to go for current (Playstation 4 and Xbox One) as well as older (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U) consoles.
Proud owners of the new Nintendo Switch will have to wait a little longer, but if you’ve got one of the other consoles, head for its app store and see what’s available. Streaming giant Netflix is on pretty much every console, as is YouTube. Stan limits itself to the Playstation and Xbox platforms, but offers 4K streaming on PS4. If navigating these apps with a game controller, check your local store for the inexpensive media remote controls that are available, too.
If you’re serious about your streaming and don’t want to boot up a game console just to watch some TV, then a dedicated streaming device is what you’re after. There’s a vast range available, with just about every price point covered.
The Apple TV 4K arguably stands out as one of the best devices available, with its clean and fast interface, superb streaming and picture quality, and support for every streaming app under the sun. At $249 it’s at the pricier end of the scale. So if you’re on more of a budget and just want to stream Netflix and Stan, the $192 Telstra TV box is a superb alternative. A rebranded Roku box, it also lets you stream Foxtel Now natively in HD.
An even cheaper alternative is Google Chromecast, a $59 dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV that lets you stream via apps on your smartphone or tablet. Your phone becomes the remote control, while the Chromecast handles the actual streaming. It works beautifully, with dozens of apps. And if you want 4K streaming, the $99 Chromecast Ultra version will handle that for you too.
If you’re one of those people that isn’t willing to let go of disc-based movies and shows just yet, you might have a streaming device already under the TV. Some Blu-ray players – notably, most from Sony and Samsung – have streaming apps built in. And while they’re not the slickest option for streaming Netflix, they work just fine. Without you having to spend any extra money or hook anything up!
While the main feature of Fetch TV’s very capable digital video recorder is its ability to, well, stream and record Fetch TV channels, it can also act as a superb streaming device for Netflix and Stan. It comes with apps designed especially for the box as standard in-built features. At $399, it’s not the sort of thing you’d buy just to watch streaming services. But if you’ve already got the Fetch TV service and the box is hooked up, that should be an easy go-to choice for your Netflix and Stan needs.
Part of the reason that Netflix and Stan have become such a massive part of so many people’s lives is the fact that they’re available on as many different devices as possible. The goal is to make it super-easy to get their streams onto your screen – all you need to do is sign up. Chances are you’ve already got one or more streaming-ready devices plugged into your TV right now. But if you don’t, and you want in on the streaming revolution, there’s a vast array of options to suit every budget.