What is a Streaming Device and How Does It Work? (Simple Answer!)

by Lisa Hayden
What is a Streaming Device

Curious about what is a streaming device and how it can improve your viewing experience? Let's find out...

When was the last time you watched a video which buffered so much you barely understood what you were watching? What about with music? Was there a time you listened to a song that stopped all the time you didn’t get to enjoy it? 

For most millennials and Gen X-ers, streaming devices weren’t available a few years back. They would go on YouTube and watch a video that was both pixelated and heavy that it took too long to load. With the streaming devices available today, it’s impossible to imagine the patience you had enduring that sort of video buffering. 

What is a Streaming Device? 

You’re familiar with streaming devices - Roku Streaming Stick Plus, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast, and the like. These streaming devices help you watch your favorite shows and movies on a streaming service with just the click of a button. But what exactly are they?

A streaming device is a hardware that allows you to stream audio and video on your smart TV. They’re the small cube boxes you place in front of the TV that you will connect to streaming sites. These devices are connected to your internet through Wi-Fi or ethernet cable and they load all the data into their processor and onto your TV

How Does a Streaming Device Work? 

How Does a Streaming Device Work

A streaming device works by connecting to the Internet and processing data coming from streaming services. If you haven’t noticed, it’s a lot like what videos and movies do when you watch them on your computer. The difference is that a streaming device is a standalone gadget that you connect to the streaming services directly. 

To be able to use a streaming device, you need to subscribe to streaming services. Some streaming services come with a monthly subscription while some are free. For example, after you connect to your Internet, connect it to your TV, and log-in to your account on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney Plus, or Hulu. Once you’re connected, you can now stream videos non-stop. 

Why You Need a Streaming Device 

What if you have a smart TV and you can access streaming services directly from there? Why get a streaming device? Most people ask these questions because they find that streaming devices can be redundant. While that much is true, that doesn’t mean it won’t add value to your watching experience. Here are three reasons why a streaming device is necessary. 

  1. It loads content faster

If you own a smart TV and you tried watching Netflix, you will notice that it will load and stop more as compared to when you’re using a streaming device. Why? It’s because streaming devices are made specifically for streaming, meaning, their processors are fast enough to keep up with the streaming services’ demands and requirements. 

  1. It has more available streaming services
streaming devices available streaming services

Not all smart TVs can stream a lot of streaming services. In fact, some just have 1-2 sites available. With a streaming device, you gain access to more services at a more affordable price. It’s affordable because even if your streaming device becomes outdated, replacing it with a much newer model will still be more affordable than replacing a new smart TV. Besides, streaming services are more focused on improving their technology for streaming devices than smart TVs.

  1. It is safer in terms of the privacy

If you’re looking for a more private streaming medium, a streaming device offers more privacy and protection compared to a smart TV. For one thing, each streaming device regardless of its type and model comes with a set of privacy policies that you can also look for on the manufacturer’s site. These privacy policies are what will protect you from other privacy issues. And if you do end up having privacy issues, you have a solid base on which your case can be built.

What to Look for in a Streaming Device 

A quick look at the best streaming devices for 2020 will show you that there are so many to choose from. If you have no idea what to buy, here’s a short guide on what factors to look for. 

  1. Platform

The first thing and probably the most important factor you’re going to consider is the platform. What is the brand you are comfortable with? What operating systems are you using? If you have an Apple TV, then you will need an Apple streaming device (not that you can’t use other streaming devices) especially if you’re a heavy user of Apple TV or iTunes. This also applies if you have a Mac or an iPhone. On the other hand, if you have Android devices, then it is better to use Android-patterned streaming devices. 

Choosing your platform is the first step in making your viewing experience comfortable and convenient. Each streaming device has its own way of controlling and commanding, so it’s best that you make that your top priority.

  1. Features
streaming devices features

Different streaming devices have their own specific features. Today, one of the most important features is the ability to have a 4K resolution. Since most TVs are in this resolution, you want to buy something that is able to adapt to the new technology. 

Looking at its compatibility features can also impact your viewing experience. Can it connect to your other home assistant devices? That’s something you have check the specifications for. 

  1. Price 

In reality, you always need to look at the price. Even if you’re not price-sensitive, knowing if a streaming device is worth your money will save you all the hassle and frustration of having a device that isn’t up to your expectations. If you’re looking for a device that has almost every streaming service available, then the best brand to buy is Roku. Roku has different price points that can fit people with different budgets. 

On the other hand, if you want a more high-end brand, then Apple tops this category. The most affordable model on their streaming device line costs as much as $149.


Overall, a streaming device provides a better experience when using streaming services. It’s faster and cheaper, and it’s made to adapt to newer technologies.

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