Q. I’m tired of paying a million dollars every year for Internet from my cable company. I want to know if you can use a Hotspot to stream Netflix or Hulu on a Smart TV instead of using an Internet service from a cable service. And should the Hotspot have one of those unlimited plans. Will that work? — Shelley, Houston.
Shelley, that’s a great question. As you know, you need an Internet connection to stream Netflix, Hulu, or any other streaming service, on a Smart TV or some other device that offers streaming services, such as a Blu-ray player or Smart TV device.
Many mobile phones and tablets can run on 3G, 4G, LTE or other Internet plans — and, yes, you can create a Hotspot from your mobile device to create a wireless Internet network in your home. For instance, your spouse and kids could access your Hotspot to surf the Net on their computer or other devices. (Consult the settings of your mobile to learn how to create a Hotspot.)
Most Hotspots have data limits, and if you go over the data limit — which I guarantee you will if you start binging on Netflix — you will pay a fortune in overage charges.
But the Hotspot with an unlimited data plan could be a great alternative to buying an expensive Internet service from a cable or telco company.
But before you go and set one up, here are a few cautions:
1. Yes, you can stream Netflix, or your other favorite streaming services, without fear of overages. But some unlimited plans come with a feature that will reduce the resolution of the picture once you start using a large amount of data. If you care about picture quality, this could be a real annoyance.
2. Some Hotspots on mobile devices are not compatible with Smart TVs or even Smart TV devices. The set or set-top may detect the Hotspot connection, but you may not be able to actually connect to it to stream.
So before buying a long-term Hotspot plan, make sure your connected TV will be able to pick up the signal.
3. Hotspots sometimes will not produce a strong signal to your other devices in the home, which again could reduce the quality of your streaming picture.
So, bottom line, the Hotspot with an unlimited plan removes the worry of excessive monthly charges, but there’s no guarantee it will work to your satisfaction, or at all. Again, before buying a long-term plan, give the the Hotspot a spin in your home for a few days.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann