I get a lot of questions from readers related to my series on streaming media players. One of the most common ones is whether you need a separate player for every TV you want to use it with.
And, as is the case with many technology-related questions, the answer is: It depends. The basic concept here is that all the “magic” behind the player comes from the connections that have been set up between the device, your account with the device manufacturer (Roku, Apple, Amazon, Google), and any accounts you have with content providers (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, etc.). Your TV simply acts like a big computer monitor that takes the signal coming out of the device and plays it through its screen and speakers. This means two things related to the original question.
First, a device must be physically attached to your TV to be able to watch streaming content through it. You can’t access the signal from a device connected to a different TV.
Second, if you have multiple TVs in your home but you only ever watch one at a time, you can simply move your device from one TV to another. All of your settings will still be intact. However, if you want to use the device with more than one TV at the same time, then you need a separate box or stick for each TV.
- If you want to use the device somewhere outside the area covered by your Internet connection, you can still use it but you’ll have to set it up again to work with the new network (and it may not work at all in a different country). I did this last summer when I took my Chromecast on vacation with me and it worked great.
- If you have multiple devices from the same manufacturer but want to access different content providers on them—for example, you might want the one on your kids’ TV to only receive children’s programming—you’ll need separate accounts for the device manufacturer. You should be able to still use the same accounts for most content providers as long as both devices are on the same network, but I can’t guarantee that applies to ever provider out there. Of course, you can also use devices from different manufacturers on each TV (e.g. Roku on one and Amazon Fire TV on another) and you would obviously need separate accounts for them, but I’m not sure whether you would need separate accounts for the content providers in that case.
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Streaming Media: Frequently Asked Questions