Smart TV boxes are a great way to get online content onto your television screen. They package together most of the services you want, movies, music and YouTube as well as some third party apps for podcasts and even cable TV channels.
Google and Apple were the mainstream pioneers of this medium, releasing the Apple TV in 2007 and the Google TV in 2010. The idea was born out of a new desire to ‘cut the cord’ from cable and satellite TV providers and it also recognized early on that internet content was becoming an equal to more traditional entertainment. But for any early adopters of these platforms, the limitations of each design kept either from really taking off.
But that was the past. Today, boxes like the Roku 3 offer more third party apps, peppy performance, and simplified remotes. Not only that, prices are reasonable and installation is easy. Two new options announced in the last few years include Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s rebranded Android TV making clear strides toward streamlining the interface and adding voice search.
However, since its initial inception the idea of smart TV has become very common place. Chances are if you bought any TV related device in the past four years, it can function as a smart TV too. So why buy a dedicated smart TV?
The answer is not always obvious. On some levels it boils down to the experience. Some of the best smart TV experiences can be had on dedicated devices like the Android TV that lives and dies by its content. Also the ability to easily connect it to any TV, regardless of manufacturer, makes it much more versatile. But it can be argued that as newer iterations appeared on the market, the smart TV has moved away from the idea of being a PC on our TV to replicating our smartphones and tablets on our TV.
Devices such as Google’s Chromecast, which project apps from our smart mobile devices on to the wider TV screen, were in their own simple way, groundbreaking devices for a truly smart TV. These devices have so much potential that we may soon be able to ask, why use a smart TV box at all?