Streaming services like Netflix, Stan, Amazon and Foxtel Now are being used by millions of Australians every day. If you’re looking to watch these services in style, the first options that come to mind are upgrading to a smart TV or buying a dedicated streaming device. Like the Apple TV, Telstra TV and others. But here’s the thing – around two million Australian households already have a do-everything streaming box plugged into an HDMI port on their TV. We’re talking about your current-generation game console, mainly Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Nintendo’s Switch is growing rapidly in popularity but doesn’t support streaming services — yet.
Even if you have a previous gen console like the PS3 or Xbox 360 you’ve got options when it comes to streaming the big services. Netflix is available on pretty much everything, while Stan does offer a PS3 versionof their app. But it’s the current consoles that offer the best experience – and the option of streaming in 4K if you’ve got a TV that supports it.
So how hard is it to get set up to stream on your game console? It’s a lot easier than you might think!
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First step: be connected and be ready
While it might seem obvious, to stream video on your console you’re going to need to have it connected to your home broadband. Either wireless or (preferably, if it’s possible) a wired Ethernet cable. Most owners of current game consoles will already have them connected and ready to go – you can’t get game updates otherwise. Yet, consoles can still be used without an internet connection at all, and some never feel the need to connect them.
You’ll also need to set up accounts for the streaming services you plan to use. That usually needs to be done in a web browser rather than on the console itself. Have your usernames and passwords at the ready.
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Sony’s made it super-easy to access all your favourite streaming services with a recent update to the PlayStation 4’s system software. They’ve added a special “TV and Video” item in the PS4’s main menu that brings together all of the available TV and video streaming apps in the one place. That means you don’t have to go hunting through a big long list of games to find the Kayo app just because you haven’t used it in a while.
Simply head to the “TV and Video” section and you’ll be greeted with a screen showing highlights and suggestions for shows and movies from the various services. Up the top of the screen you’ll see all the key players – Netflix, Foxtel Now, Stan, hayu, Amazon Prime, YouTube and of course the Playstation Store.
It’s as easy as selecting the one you want to start it instantly installing. From that point on, the apps are always right there at the top of the screen for quick and easy access.
If you’re looking to install an app that’s not featured at the top of the screen, just pop across to the “All Apps” tab. Here, you’ll find links to everything available, like ABC iView, 9now, Twitch, Vevo and more. All ready to install.
From there it’s as simple as just running the app you want and signing in. You do that by either typing in your username and password using the on-screen keyboard or, in the case of some such as Stan, popping over to your web browser and entering a code that’s provided on screen. You’re good to go!
If you’re the lucky owner of a shiny new 4K TV and are hoping to stream 4K, there is one bit of slightly bad news, though. While Netflix and Stan both support 4K streaming on Playstation, you’ll need the more powerful PS4 Pro to do so. The standard PS4 can’t output 4K video.
Microsoft’s current console had a rocky start in the gaming world. That’s because it was marketed so heavily as a box that did not only streaming video, but also TV… and also happened to play some games. That’s all changed now and it’s become a popular choice among gamers.
The Xbox One is bit less user-friendly, though, when it comes to streaming apps. To find them you’ll need to head into the Xbox Store, in the main menus at the top of the home screen. Then navigate down to “Browse Apps” and hit the A button. You’ll find yourself in the actual store where you can hunt down and grab the streaming apps you need. That’s made easier with a category you’ll find down the page a little bit – “Top Entertainment Apps.” Here, Netflix, Stan, Amazon and others are prominently displayed. To see all the apps including free-to-air catch-up services, you’ll need to navigate across to “Show All” and you’ll see the full range.
Now, once you’ve downloaded your apps you’ll want to run them to sign in and… wait, where did they go, exactly? Yep, Microsoft’s not going to make it that easy for you. You’ll need to go hunt down those freshly-grabbed apps by selecting “My Games and Apps” on the home screen, then navigating down to “Apps”. Everything you just downloaded will appear here. You can launch them straight from this screen. But if you want to make life easier for yourself, you should “pin” the ones you’re going to use frequently.
“Pinning” an app puts an easy-access icon for it on the home screen so you can run the app quickly without messing around in menus. To pin an app, just select it in the “Apps” section, press the menu button on your controller and select “Add to Pins”.
Pop down to your pinned apps on the home screen and you can then move them into whatever order you like by just selecting the icon, hitting the Y button and dragging it to where you want it. Oh, and yes, pins also work for games! Once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy, but Microsoft could take some tips on ease of use from Sony!
Netflix, Stan and Amazon can all stream 4K on the Xbox One, but there’s a catch here too. You’ll need either an Xbox One S or the new Xbox One X. The original (and long unavailable) Xbox One can’t do 4K at all. With the S model regularly selling for less than $300 and also having a 4K Blu-ray drive built in, though, it’s a great choice for 4K TV owners that beats any dedicated streaming box.
One last thing: many people dislike using game consoles for streaming because they don’t want to control playback by messing around with a game controller trying to find which button is “pause”! Luckily there’s an easy solution – pick up the media remote for your console! The Xbox One remote is a small, soft-shelled device with light-up buttons that costs less than $30, while Playstation 4 users can get the PS4 Universal Remote for around the same price. If you intend to spend any amount of time watching video on your console, the remotes are well worth the modest price. The PS4 one can control your TV as well!