Q. I’ve been thinking about buying a Smart TV so I can watch Netflix streaming video, but a friend tells me that I should just get a Blu-ray player that has Netflix because it would be cheaper. What do you think? — Tommy, Miami, Florida.
Your friend is right in this respect. If you have a TV you’re already happy with, you could get a Roku, a Blu-ray player with built-in WiFi or a Fire TV device for under $100 and stream Netflix and other Net TV services to the set. You wouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars or more on a new TV.
However, here’s where it gets complicated. Some savvy folks believe a Smart TV, which often costs a bit more than a comparable, non-Smart TV, delivers a better streaming picture than a Smart TV device, such as the Blu-ray player or Roku.
The theory is that some streaming device makers use secondary servers to transmit the signals from the streaming service and therefore the picture may not be quite as sharp or reliable.
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Is this true? I have a Smart TV, and a few Smart TV players including Roku, Fire TV and a Blu-ray WiFi box, and I wouldn’t say that the picture is necessarily better on one or the other. But there are those people who say the Smart TV does a better job with streaming so keep that in mind.
Bottom line: If you were planning to shop for a new TV anyway — and streaming is important to you — go ahead and get a set that offers Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc. But, again, if you like your current TV, get a Roku or Fire TV set-top, or a Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi. You’ll save money and, in my view, be just as happy.
Check out these best-selling Smart TV players.
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The biggest knock against a smart TV is that at some point, some new app is going to come along, and your TV won’t be able to install it. Think about it, you can upgrade your Amazon Fire or Roku almost every year for under $100. You can’t do that for a TV.
I have a Sony Bravia smart TV, and the Netflix app stopped working after a year. It actually crashes the TV now. When it did work, the picture was significantly worse than it was when using my older Sony BluRay player to stream Netflix. Now I only use the Smart TV part for Amazon streaming, which is guaranteed to fail at least twice per hour. For all else, I use my Apple TV (4) which is far superior to all other devices for streaming.