This is a question I’ve received a few times recently, which probably means a lot of other people are wondering the same thing but not asking. So I’m writing this post to answer it and I will also add it to the Streaming Media Players: Frequently Asked Questions post as well.
A Smart TV is one that can connect directly to the Internet to access various features like channel guides, websites and, most commonly, streaming content. So you could say that a streaming media player actually turns a regular TV into a Smart TV because it pulls content from the Internet to display on the TV.
So no, you don’t need a Smart TV to use a streaming player. However, if you have a Smart TV, you still may want to use a separate player because, generally speaking, the TVs often don’t support as many apps as the players do. One major exception is that some Smart TVs have a web browser built into them but the major streaming players don’t. I expect both of these previous sentences to change before too long as more and more people move away from traditional cable and satellite services to Internet-based content.
One other thing to note is that all of the Big Four streaming players (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast) do require a TV with at least one HDMI port to plug into except for the Roku 1 model, which can connect to a TV using composite A/V cables (red/white/yellow connectors). So the Roku 1 is a good choice if you have an older TV that doesn’t have HDMI ports.
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