BASICS Step 06: Streaming Devices


On June 12, 2009, all TV signals went digital. Your analog TV stopped working until you added a converter box to the TV. Today your expensive digital flat-screen TV cannot get internet streaming signals unless it is a newer "smart" TV. Your "dumb" TV needs a streaming device to get into the game. The good news is that you don't need to buy a "smart" TV because streaming devices will turn your "dumb" TV into a "smart" TV. You are good to go!


The Streaming Media Device connects the internet to your TV and allows you to choose a streaming service like Amazon Prime or Netflix. If you have decided to make your dumb TV smart with a streaming media device, read on, if not, then skip this section.

Streaming Media Devices

Router to Dumb TV

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Home-Distribution-Router-Dumb-TV-1.png


Here's the dumb TV diagram from the last step. Our goal is to turn our dumb TV into a smart TV so we can get our streaming media on it. To do so we need to replace the 🚫 above with a streaming media device.

Streaming Media Device Placement

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Home-Distribution-Router-Dumb-TV-w-stick-1.png


The streaming media device is the missing "smart" from your dumb TV. These streaming media devices are available as a stick or HDMI cable which plugs into the HDMI port on the back of your dumb TV. It wirelessly (Wi-Fi) connects to your home network on one side and to your dumb TV on the other side. Some have their own remotes. They all require power, either A/C or USB.

They all have unique features. For example, A Roku stick will allow you to get Amazon or Netflix. But you need to check these details before you make a purchase.

These devices range in price from $45 to $180 for the device. These devices enable your dumb TV to now receive Streaming Media Services (movies, channels, TV shows, etc.).

Voilà, hello smart TV.


Let's look at three popular streaming media devices. Costs are estimated on 03/03/2019.

Roku offers eight different devices with various features. This stick works with many streaming services including Amazon, Vudu, Netflix, and Apple TV. It streams HD, has voice control and TV controls.

Roku Streaming Stick+ | HD/4K/HDR Streaming Device with Long-range Wireless and Voice Remote with TV Controls - Roku offers eight different devices with various features. This stick works with many streaming services including Amazon, Vudu, Netflix, and Apple TV. It streams HD, has voice control and TV controls. (about $45)

Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device with Alexa built in, Dolby Vision, includes Alexa Voice Remote, latest release - This is one of Amazon's devices. Works with Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO, and more. (about $50)

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, 3GB RAM, 2x USB, Works with Alexa and OK Google.  - Top of the line. Works with just about everything. (about $200)

Which One Do I Choose?

Which one is right for you? Choices, choices, and more choices. There are a lot more than the top five I listed above.

You may be an "Apple" person and you should take a look at Apple TV. Or maybe you want every possible feature like in the Nvidia Shield device. Or maybe your budget is making the call.

Just go browsing around until something looks like a good fit for your needs. Remember, it does not need to be a Roku device to use the Roku services or a Fire TV Stick to use the Amazon services.


😎 The HomeMedia Guy: Tip - Can't decide? Choose the Roku or Fire TV Stick which are the least expensive but offer all of the services. Remember, you are just making you dumb TV into a smart TV, you still need to choose what streaming services you want in the next section.

ACTION ITEM: Check out three streaming devices.

  1. Does it come with a remote? Compatible with your existing remote?
  2. How large is it?
  3. Good reviews?


Which one do you like? Maybe another that's not on the list?

ITEM: Smart and Dumb TVs

I have a great dumb TV and a great smart TV. My first streaming device was Chromecast. That was years ago, and it transformed my dumb TV into the future. I loved it. Over time I upgraded to newer versions and I started having less success. It still worked but other solutions were emerging that offered better features. Chromecast was complicated to activate and then I needed my smartphone to make everything work. I still use Chromecast on my dumb TV.

When I purchased my smart TV I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to configure and start enjoying. I really like it. It opened my eyes to the other streaming devices by showing me what was going on.

I bought a Fire Stick for my dumb TV and started getting all the features, well, most of the features, that I had on my smart TV. I still use Chromecast on this dumb TV along with the Fire Stick. Each device operates on a different HDMI input. The only downside is one remote for the TV, my smartphone for Chromecast, and another remote for the Fire Stick. The Fire Stick has an On/Off button that works on the TV so if I can just use the Firestick for all the streaming. I need the TV remote to switch over to off-air TV or to switch HDMI inputs.

Complicated but you get used to it.

My smart TV does everything with just one remote. I like that. Off-air TV, streaming, home network media, it does it all seamlessly.

ITEM: Amazon Fire Stick

I went for the Amazon Fire TV Stick K because I like Amazon. This device does not have every feature available, but it has enough for my needs.


If you have a dumb TV and you like that TV, keep it and get a streaming device to bring your TV into today's digital world.

There are a lot of choices out there and they all work. I choose Fire Stick because I subscribe to the Amazon Prime program. I subscribe because I use their shopping and delivery services, but they throw in their media offerings as well. So that works for me.