Smart TV vs. streaming player: which is better for cutting cables?

When buying a new TV, maybe around Black Friday, there’s a dilemma you’ll be faced with right out of the box: do you stick with the built-in smart TV software or do you plug in a streaming player instead? separated?

Both approaches have their merits. You may get better performance and broader app support from an external streaming player, but your smart TV software may offer features that you can’t get by connecting a Fire TV Stick or Roku.

If you’re not sure whether you need a streaming player to use with your smart TV, here’s how to decide:

Test your smart TV software first

Before buying a streaming player separately, test your smart TV software. You probably don’t need an additional streaming device if your TV meets all of the following criteria:

  • Has all the video and music streaming apps you plan to use
  • Doesn’t feel excruciatingly slow to operate
  • You are happy enough with the remote control and the menu system

Smart TVs get a bad rap for a number of reasons. Major TV brands like Samsung, LG, and Vizio tend to offer fewer apps compared to other platforms like Roku and Fire TV, and their long-term software update history is worse. Smart TVs can also be more privacy invasive than some streaming devices, especially if you don’t. disable your content recognition systems that track what you see, and can use slower processors that reduce responsiveness and load times.

But not all smart TVs suffer from these problems. If you buy a TV with the Roku, Fire TV, or Android TV software built in, you’ll get the same apps and features as their standalone streaming player counterparts. And the more you spend on a smart TV, the more likely its processor is fast enough.

Where smart TVs excel

Smart TVs also have several advantages over standalone streaming devices. This is:

Easier HDR setup: If your TV supports Dolby Vision or HDR10 +, your smart TV apps will support those formats automatically. You don’t need to worry about buying a compatible streaming player or figuring out which HDMI input offers the best video quality. Using the smart TV software also frees up your HDMI inputs for game consoles, Blu-ray players, or HDMI-ARC sound bars.

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