Streaming and Casting Devices
Over the years, I have had some concerns about smart TV's. While I like Vizio TVs, their smart TV's have had some security issues.
As a result of this, I leave the stream to off the shelf devices that are available and three different brands are used in the house.
The thing I like about Roku is that you can use video services you may already have with Google (this includes You Tube), Vudu, Sling, and Amazon. They don't pick sides. With Roku (as well as all streaming devices listed on this page) you can watch Hulu, Netflix, and Disney (as well as numerous other channels) just by loading the apps you want.
Another feature that separates others is if you are part of religious faith or organization, chances are this device has an app for that.
This device does provide apps for the networks and cable stations you like as well as Sirius XM.
They are easy to setup and use. Some models include the option of attaching headphones as well.
Their stock does well on Wall Street too. There is a good reason why.
(a Roku device (it can be attached to TV using adhesive included)
Kindle Fire TV
Like Roku, Amazon Fire TV is a similar device and recent updates have allowed playback of You Tube and Google movies and streaming through one app (on Roku they are separate).
The remote is voice activated and works with Alexa as well. If you are concerned about the big brother elements of Alexa, you can control it on your own as long as an Echo device isn't connected to your home network.
Amazon allows playback of games through their app library but games will play better on higher end models (if Amazon still supports it).
Bluetooth devices can pair to Fire TV including keyboards, mice, trackballs, and game controllers (check with Amazon for compatibility questions).
Some Fire TV model allow for an Ethernet connection using an inexpensive dongle that plugs into the Fire TV device available from Amazon if you don't want to stream wireless but it is a 100MB connection and not a 1gb connection.
Apple + is available for Kindle Fire as well.
Several years ago when I was teaching tech classes in the community, Amazon came out with a casting commercial (playback from Kindle Fire to TV using wireless connections) that left out a great deal of fine print (unless you went to the website) in how it worked (or didn't work). Many in attendance were hoping to to the same thing and weren't happy when I went over the fine print. As a result of this faux paux, I decided to look into this to find a solution.
Google Chromecast is the most reliable for casting wireless from mobile devices and computers to your video screen doing more than just being classified as a streaming device.
Even if you leave it running on television throughout the day, the device show photos (as a slide show) as well as the time and the weather. If you use the Google Home app, you can personalize it to display from your own photo collection as well (if you store it on Google cloud systems).
The system does work on IOS and Android phones as well as Google Chrome browsers. If you have the browser, the casting icon in the upper right corner will let you select the correct device to cast (as well as stream) to.
If you have a Chromebook, you can use a Chromecast device to work as a computer screen capable of being used for presentations as well (like the Chromebook commercials show) by selecting the cast option in the control panel and choosing the device. Chromecast must be connected to your wi-fi network and operating to pair any device with it.
(Installed Chromecast (Gray round device) to HDMI selector)
While Microsoft has casting capabilities using Windows 10, these features require specific wi-fi computer adapters built into your computer as well as a special casting dongle from Microsoft. Check with Microsoft support if you have any questions about it.
Chromecast will work on a Windows 10 computer (eliminating the requirements in the previous paragraph) using a Chromecast browser and the wi fi on your computer. You can using streaming services from others (using the Chromecast browser) to work on your TV.
If Apple lets you add Chromecast as a option for Safari, you should be able to do the same thing on your television as well.
These devices do require apps to be installed onto your mobile devices in order to get them registered and working on your home network and your TVs. For notebook computers, you must have a Chromecast browser or Chrome operating system installed.