Most smart TV owners still use an external streaming device

Most smart TV owners still use an external streaming device
(Image credit: Amazon)

Smart TVs offer all the video streaming services you could want, but many people still plug in an external streaming device. A study claims that more than half of smart TV users hook it up to a streaming box or dongle, flatpanelshd (opens in new tab) reports.

Hub Entertainment Research surveyed respondents aged 16 to 74. It found that a lot of people also used a device like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Apple TV 4K, or Chromecast with Google TV because certain streaming services weren't available directly through their smart TV.

Three-quarters of respondents also say they use their smart TV or streaming box for non-video usage. The most popular of these is music or audio, through services like Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music and Apple Music.

Of course, there are more reasons pushing users to shell out for an external streaming device. These often have more powerful processors that can be dedicated to tasks like gaming – the recently unveiled Apple TV 4K (2022) features the same A15 Bionic processor as the iPhone 14, for example.

Streaming apps on devices can also support different audio and video formats, wireless audio platforms, cast systems like Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, fitness apps like Peloton and Apple Fitness, smart home integration, multi-user support (with user profiles), and have space to store downloads like movies and albums.

Do you plug a streaming device into your smart TV? Which one and why? Let us know in the comments below.

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Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • Freddy
    I use a Fire Stick still.
    Reply
  • WayneKerr
    My pannie plasma went dumb so I had to invest in the cheapest option, a Fire Stick. All smart TVs go dumb eventually.
    Reply
  • Freddy
    WayneKerr said:
    My pannie plasma went dumb so I had to invest in the cheapest option, a Fire Stick. All smart TVs go dumb eventually.
    Haha. :)
    Reply
  • drinking12many
    The simple answer for me was my newer smart tv (Vizio P series bought in 2021), chromecast, PS5 etc not supporting all formats/codecs. I got so tired of fighting various issues with FLAC not streaming through Plex (without transcoding), or Dolby Vision only working through some streaming apps but only working sometimes with Plex depending on Profile, not being able to do TrueHD passthrough to my AVR (x3500h) was another major WTF At first my PS5 and TV didn't get along so it down converted 4K UHD disks to 1080p (fixed with a TV firmware a bit back) I just finally gave up and got a Shield pro and literally all my major issues went away and just work now. Now if the PS5 just supported Vision so I didnt have to get another UHD player for that all would be golden. I miss the days you just plugged a TV in and everything just worked all the various codec/support issues make it a nightmare.
    Reply
  • Friesiansam
    We don't use a dedicated streaming device but, the streaming functions of our Freesat box. work better then the TV's.
    Reply
  • Hifiman
    We use different types of Fire Sticks on different TVs. The consistency of the interface just makes life easier. Also, you can take it on the road to, say, a hotel and just continue where you left off. With a fast VPN that applies abroad too. As an Amazon Music subscriber it can be used for that if necessary.
    Reply
  • Gerry01773
    I have the impression that my smart TV collects more personal information about me than my Firestick does. (Someone please reply if that’s wrong.) Also, I run all devices, Firestick, BlueRay, CD/DVD player, STB, tape deck, turntable, through my receiver, then to a single HDMI port on the TV. This simplifies device selection.
    Reply
  • WhiteKnight2020
    Shield pro here, DV profile support, HD audio passthrough on Plex. Also LG C8 streaming apps (iPlayer and C4 particularly) constantly buffer even on wired internet and no eArc.
    Reply
  • Scaadoo
    Sound quality on my Samsung smart TV for Spotify and BBC Sounds is just not good at all - for YouTube it's OK

    So I bought a Bluesound Node and online music listening is great again
    Reply
  • Betamax_man
    I disconnected my smart TV from the Internet because I was sick and tired of the pop-ups that appeared from BBC iPlayer. Using a fire TV stick and turning off the TV WiFi gets rid of it. I can even control the fire TV stick with the TV remote. Plus, of cause, you can load whatever compatible Android app you like onto it. It's a no brained really.
    Reply