My smart TV already includes apps like Netflix, Hulu and Pandora. So why would I need Roku or any other streaming service?
The truth is that your smart TV may have some streaming video, music and game apps, but it falls short of a streaming video product like Roku.
Roku is necessary if I own a smart TV.
You don’t have to use Roku, but if you own a smart TV you will have more content options and a simpler menu to manage. Roku also has faster load times and more frequent updates.
Even if your smart TV is already set up, it’s worth considering buying a Roku streaming device.
What is Roku?
Roku lets you access both paid and free TV shows and movies through a single interface. This is your home base for all of your entertainment needs.
It can be compared to an iPhone in many ways. You have access to all TV and movie apps. You can choose the ones that you like and organise them according to your needs.
Many smart TVs tried to replicate Roku’s success, but Roku continues outshining them in nearly every way…
Content is the king
It wasn’t that long ago that TV options were limited. You either had cable or you didn’t.
Premium channels such as HBO, Showtime, and Starz were then introduced. Although you had to pay an extra fee to access this premium content, it was vastly better than cable TV.
This model of streaming premium content began to flourish in the 2000s, with Netflix and other companies leading the charge.
Soon after Netflix’s success, the Hulus and Amazon Primes, as well as the Disney Pluses, began popping up all over the globe, increasing consumer access to great content.
TV viewing has changed dramatically from a world based on cable to one based on streaming apps.
It’s not surprising that this was when smart TVs were created.
TV manufacturers realised that people wanted easy access to their streaming subscriptions so they began working with these companies to integrate their apps into TVs.
This was great in certain ways (you could access it right from your TV), but not in others.
The bad part is that TV companies have to negotiate with streaming services to be able to place them on their TVs. Worse, these deals can sometimes become “exclusive”.
All this to say, your smart TV does not have access to all streaming apps.
Roku is here to help.
Roku is the current market leader in streaming services and has built a huge user-base. This means that streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and others are eager to join the Roku platform because it’s where the consumer is.
Roku is the streaming app leader, with over 6,000 apps. Roku is a great way to access streaming services if you subscribe.
This is not true for your smart TV.
Experience is key
The original business of TV manufacturers was to build and sell TVs (hardware), rather than software. It shows.
Companies like Vizio, Sony, LG and Vizio began to look for smart TVs and started to form teams of engineers, designers and developers to create the app interface that you use to search and launch Netflix.
These “smart features” were viewed more as “add-ons to the TV” and the interfaces they created aren’t intuitive or user-friendly.
It can be difficult to find a streaming application on many of these TVs.
Roku was created alongside these streaming apps. Actually, interestingly enough Roku used to be Owned by Netflix
Designed its software with you in mind, From the beginning, Roku thought of you.
Roku can be used if you have an iPhone.
Remote controls are still an option
Roku’s remote is another important aspect.
My experience is that the TV remote that you receive when you buy a TV has more than 50 buttons.
It can be confusing to use.
Roku’s remotes have a delightfully simple design (see a theme?). There are typically less than 20 buttons depending on the remote, but they all have a purpose.
It has basic functionality such as changing the volume or channel, but also “quick-launch” buttons for streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.
These buttons allow you to launch these apps in a click.
The remote can be used to organise your apps home page and to move your favourite apps to the top.
Roku also created a “Roku remote” app that you can download directly to your smartphone.
This is very handy because I lose remotes often but never my iPhone.
Speed is key
Two main areas are where Smart TVs fall short in speed:
- The hardware side is the first.
The majority of smart TVs have fairly Software that is never “done”. It’s constantly changing and hopefully improving.
They are made available to existing users as updates.
Updates and fixes for Roku are faster than any other smart TV version.
It’s all about consumers and Roku is the most popular streaming device. It makes perfect sense that Roku would direct their energy there.
The junk that smart TV interfaces add is a major problem.
It is not uncommon for obscure streaming apps to be integrated into the interface of a TV manufacturer.
Roku allows you to have complete control over the app menu.
You see an app that you don’t want? No problem, delete it.
Are you unable to see the app that you subscribed with?
Don’t worry, you can search for it, download it, then arrange your menu so that it appears at the top.
Roku is able to grasp simple concepts that smart TVs cannot.
There are exceptions
There are situations where buying Roku or any other streaming service is not necessary.
The first is if you don’t use the smart aspect of your smart television.
If you don’t watch any streaming services and only watch cable, don’t purchase Roku.
These are the best options to explore before you buy Roku.
Finally, you don’t have to buy an extra device by simply buying a smart TV that has Roku installed.
This route has been taken by several TV manufacturers, including Sharp and TCL.
Do you really need Roku if your smart TV already has Roku? No matter if you have a smart television, Roku is a streaming device that you can use to stream video.
- More content
- A better interface
- a simpler remote
- Faster loading
- More frequent updates
Roku is not necessary if you are only using your smart TV to watch cable or if there are other streaming devices such as the Xbox One and Playstation 4 that offer robust streaming interfaces.