Smart TVs vs. Streaming Boxes: Which Is Right for You?

Although lots of people subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video (or some combination of all three), not everybody has a giant screen for watching their favorite TV shows and movies. Even if you’re the kind of person whose usual way to watch the latest episode of The Bachelorette is to curl up in bed and crack your laptop open, you might be looking for a way to take your viewing to a bigger screen. That’s where smart TVs and streaming boxes come in.

Both smart TVs and streaming boxes can replace many of the needs that cable fulfills, and if you’re now renting your first apartment and trying to stick to a budget, cutting cable in favor of streaming might be among your smartest financial choices. That said, if you don’t take the time to understand what distinguishes smart TVs from streaming boxes – there is, admittedly, lots of overlap in what they offer – you might spend far more money than needed to set up a bigger screen for catching up on your favorite show. The below advice can help you decide whether a smart TV or a streaming box is right for you.

Pros of a smart TV

More functionality than a streaming box

Certain streaming companies offer both smart TVs and streaming boxes. Although these brands’ streaming boxes can turn an ordinary TV into a streaming beast, their smart TVs will include everything in their streaming boxes and might include additional smart features such as voice control, access to non-streaming apps (including food delivery and rideshare), and connectivity with smart home devices.

Better sound quality

Some smart TV manufacturers are taking their devices up a notch and equipping them with sound capabilities on par with those of surround sound sets. Certain brands are upgrading their smart TV speakers to include built-in Dolby Atmos sound, a feature that many tech experts say is the best possible sound quality. With just one device, you could potentially bring the sharp sound of a movie theater right into your home, and with Halloween right around the corner, what better time to take your scary movie game to the next level?

Pros of a streaming box

Less expensive

A certain brand’s streaming stick might sell for far less money than even the average non-smart TV. If you spot a fairly priced non-smart TV for sale, then combining that purchase with a streaming stick might be significantly cheaper than buying a smart TV. Of course, if you already have a great non-smart TV and just want to make sure you can watch The Office on it whenever you want, a streaming box is about as affordable a solution as it gets.

Additional non-TV exclusives

Depending on the brand, your streaming box might allow you access to certain things that even your smart TV can’t. Some streaming boxes allow you to access your downloaded, personal non-streaming music collection, a feature that no smart TVs offer. Others let your TV connect to a web browser, a feature that smart TVs tend to lack. Other streaming boxes even include gaming features, another capability that most smart TVs don’t offer. If you’re looking for a truly multimedia experience, a streaming box might be your best bet.

There’s no wrong choice

Whether you decide on a smart TV or a streaming box, if you feel that the decision is best for your budget and entertainment needs, then you’ve made the right choice. Just do your research first, and you’ll likely find yourself making a decision you won’t regret!

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