When it comes to tech toys, we all have different needs and preferences. Thankfully, cord cutters have a wide variety of quality gear to choose from.
But there are many second-rate or out-of-date gadgets which can lead to a bad experience for unsuspecting consumers.
Android VS. Android TV Streaming Boxes
Just because an Android streaming device connects to your TV with an HDMI port, doesn’t mean it’s running the ‘right’ kind of Android operating system.
Many generic streaming boxes run the mobile version of Android. This can cause apps to be incompatible or behave strangely.
Instead, look for those running Android TV, designed for HDMI-connected streaming devices.
AVOID – Generic ‘Android’ streaming boxes
WHAT TO PICK INSTEAD – Chromecast with Google TV or NVIDIA Shield
‘Casting’ Dongles VS. Streaming Devices
Google’s original Chromecast dongle was a popular way to ‘beam’ TV shows, movies, and photos from your smartphone or PC to your television screen. This technology is also built into some Smart TVs. There’s even ‘knockoff’ versions like the TVFix Caster, often pitched via social media ads.
But casting devices tie up your smartphone or your PC. They don’t come with their own remote control making them cumbersome for children and non-tech savvy adults. They can also be prone to buffering problems resulting in choppy playback. It’s quite telling that Google itself has opted to ditch the ‘casting’ concept and sell a streaming stick instead.
AVOID – ‘Casting’ dongles (like TVFix and the original Chromecast)
WHAT TO PICK INSTEAD – A name-brand streaming stick or box from Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV
Older Streaming Devices VS. New Streaming Devices
You can find older streaming technology – like the Chromecast – for sale online and at most major big box stores. Before you buy, take time to research the launch date and model number of the streaming device you’re considering. That way you can ensure you’re getting the most up-to-date technology.
For example, we often recommend the Roku Ultra, but there are versions of this model going back to 2016. The 2020 Roku Ultra has a better remote, a much faster processor, and more than twice the memory of the first generation Ultra.
AVOID – Older generations of streaming device models/technology
WHAT TO PICK INSTEAD – The most recent device models with the latest technology
Proprietary VS. Industry Standard Smart TV Operating Systems
Some Smart TVs are a smarter buy than others… Samsung, LG, and Vizio create and maintain their own proprietary Smart TV operating systems and app collections. This can lead to a poor user experience as apps may be unavailable or offer fewer features on these platforms.
Most other manufacturers use industry-standard operating systems and app stores from Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV. These platforms are designed with cord cutters in mind and make it much easier for streaming app creators to publish and update their apps.
AVOID – Smart TVs with non-standard operating systems
WHAT TO PICK INSTEAD – Smart TVs running Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV operating systems
‘Junk’ OTA TV Antennas VS. Quality OTA TV Antennas
Folks are still getting suckered into buying ‘junk’ Over-the-Air TV antennas, despite warnings, rants, and even lawsuits. If a TV antenna has an ‘as seen on TV’ tag, is in the check out aisle at Bed Bath & Beyond, or makes questionable claims in its product listing, avoid it.
Choose a TV antenna from a reputable brand like Antennas Direct, Mohu, Winegard, or Antop instead. They manufacture antennas from quality materials, based on years of research and development.
AVOID – Junk TV antennas (like Clear TV, TV Key, Livewave, Magic Stick, PingBingDing)
WHAT TO PICK INSTEAD – A quality name-brand TV antenna
Looking for more guidance on what devices to buy? Check out our latest streaming device suggestions and our Over-the-Air TV antenna buyer’s guide. Both will help point you in the right direction.
We’re also always happy to answer your questions about cord cutting gear via Facebook and Twitter.
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