Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about to come out of the shadows and into their “BUY NOW!” bombardment mode. Sales pitches are expected to center around better picture quality and bigger screens, but some are going to be angled towards better software that will make smart TVs even smarter. One TV techster says you might want to stick with what you’ve got.
“Nearly all smart TV problems can be solved with an external streaming device, such as a Roku player, Fire TV Stick, or Apple TV streaming box,” CordCutterConfidential’s Jared Newman says.
It’s as easy as pie in Newman’s estimation – not only can you plug one of those devices into your existing TV to get a much better smart TV experience, but you’ll save hundreds of dollars without tossing your current set and buying a new one.
“This might be an obvious point for the tech-savvier among us, but I’ve heard from lots of folks over the years who’ve assumed they need to replace a perfectly good TV because of slow software, outdated apps, or weak Wi-Fi connectivity. While the TV makers might prefer that you buy an entirely new TV to fix these issues, I assure you there’s a better way,” Newman commented.
What to look for
It may be news to you – and, admittedly, it was news to us – but Newman claims external boxes/players are often faster than built-in smart TV software, and depending on your TV maker, they might have better app selections as an added bonus.
Before you jump and buy one, though, Newman suggests making sure you don’t have any existing problems with your Wi-Fi network. A call to your internet service provider might identify any problems and save you even more money.
Among the streaming devices that Newman thinks will do the trick, he lists:
Roku Streaming Stick 4K. “[It] is simple to use, supports both Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+,” Newman said. The lowest prices ConsumerAffairs found were at BestBuy, Amazon, and the Roku store for $24.99 and at Walmart for a penny less at $24.98.
Roku Streambar ($130) and Streambar Pro ($180) give consumers the one-two punch of soundbars and streaming boxes, so going that route would give you an upgrade in your smart TV experience as well as better sound quality.
Chromecast with Google TV (HD). Chromecast was one of the originators of streaming devices, and it’s still hanging in there and well-liked. Amazon offers the device for $18 and Best Buy and Google have it for $19.99. “A fine upgrade for older 1080p televisions … Unlike other streamers in this price range, its remote control has TV volume and power controls, so you don’t need to juggle a separate remote,” Newman claims.
Apple TV 4K. Apple doesn’t do anything at entry-level price points, but Newman thinks that if someone can afford $99, this box is an excellent choice, because of its speedy performance and an ad-free menu system if nothing else.
Buying a new streaming device is only half the battle
Newman warns that while buying a new streaming device will certainly have your TV doing new tricks, there might be some configuring to do with your smart TV’s settings.
“Many modern smart TVs really want you to use their built-in software for the sake of ‘post-purchase monetization,’ and will switch to it by default when you turn the TV on,” Newman said, pointing out these smart TVs that may make the user jump through those hoops:
Vizio SmartCast TVs
Fire TV Edition TVs
Rather than get too deep in the technology weeds, if you have one of those TVs, you can check out Newman’s steps to adjust those settings easily at the bottom of this webpage.