While majority of new TVs, such as the TCL 49S405 49″ 4K natively support services such as Netflix, Youtube and local streaming, many people choose to save some money and select a non-smart TV, or are still running older TVs with either limited or no streaming available.
Over the past few year, a number of products have come to forefront, offering to bridge the gap between the Smart TVs of today, and older models. Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TVs are perhaps the most popular the way to get media on your TV, but are they best?
While the Raspberry Pi may not be much to look at, it punches far above its weight. A Raspberry Pi is a series of micro-computers that are designed to be small, low-power but capable of delivering high definition video.
The most popular way to setup your Raspberry Pi is with the installation of Kodi. Kodi is a free software product, previously known as XBMC. After acquiring a Raspberry Pi, one must then install an appropriate linux distro, and then install the Kodi software. Alternatively you can just install Chrome within the linux environment, and use that to stream all your content as you would on your laptop or computer.
This may sound like a lot of work. And Raspberry Pi’s do come with their own set of issues. It’s hard for an open source project to beat the ease of use provided by likes of Amazon and Google. Both of whom’s products offer seamless integration with their voice assistants, the Echo and the Home.
At the end of the day though, you need to look at what you want to get out of your streaming device. If you want proper 4k streaming, which will just become more prolific with time, The Raspberry Pi’s not going to cut it. But at the same time, Chromecasts and Fire TVs come in both 4k and 1080p variants, make sure you’re getting the right one.
If however you have lots of local media. Then maybe the Raspberry Pi is the way to go. It offers far more flexibility, and will even let you play games. But, it can’t beat the easy setup that more commercial products offer. Maybe a Roku Streaming device is what you need after all.
From a price perspective, things are all over the place. A barebones Raspberry Pi costs only $35, but that’s without a powersupply, remote, cables or anything else. Many people sell kits, such as this Nintendo look alike, which is more than double the cost of the Pi alone.
Entry level Fire Sticks and Chromecasts hover around the $35 mark, with specials always abound. However, for a 4k device you’re going to be ponying up an additional $10-$40. But that’s all you need.
If you’re tech savvy and know what you’re getting into, the Raspberry Pi is a versatile and capable tool. If you want something that is quick and reliable, buy something from Google, Amazon or Roku.