Streaming Media Player or Smart TV: The Best Choice

By William O'Neal - Fri, Aug 12, 2016

As more and more people discover the wonders of cord cutting, many are questioning which is the better option: a Streaming Media Player (SMP) like NVIDIA SHIELD or a Smart TV (STV). With their fully integrated design, built in WiFi, and no external connections, integrated solutions like Smart TVs can sometimes be cheaper, but do they represent the best solutions? Let’s take a look!

Ease of Use

When it comes to usability it’s hard to beat Streaming Media Players. Based on Android TV, the NVIDIA SHIELD boasts a user interface that is sleak, modern and easy to understand. An issue that plagues many Smart TVs is the fact that the user interfaces are often proprietary. (Meaning that each manufacturer is free to design the user experience their own way.) In a nutshell, the experience from one Smart TV to another can vary widely and since most homes don’t have the same TV models in different rooms, the experience is different and even if they have the same model, the user experience can be different from model to model as well as year of manufacture. Simply put, customers want a common user experience across all of their TVs.

Another factor that separates Streaming Media Players from Smart TVs is the software itself. Many Smart TVs suffer from user interfaces that are not only unintuitive, they can also be buggy and software updates tend to happen much more infrequently.

Flexibility and Affordability

When you buy a Smart TV you expect to enjoy your TV for years to come. That said, over the years it’s tough to predict where technology will take you. On the other hand, Streaming Media Players are relatively inexpensive when compared to a Smart TV. Even at $200, NVIDIA SHIELD is continues to be a better bargain than paying the extra premium for a Smart TV.

Additionally, Smart TVs suffer from a lack of flexibility when compared to a Streaming Media Player. Whereas Smart TVs receive limited upgrades, Shield is updated on an ongoing basis, having received new features and performance improvements almost monthly since its launch. Also, if you’re not happy with your Smart TV software in two years, you can buy a relatively inexpensive Streaming Media Player and swap it out instead of replacing your entire smart TV. Lastly, with a Streaming Media Player like SHIELD you always get latest and greatest technologies. From the latest Surround audio technologies, to emerging video technologies like HDR, to DVR.

Superior Technology

When it comes to emerging technology, you can’t beat a Streaming Media Player like NVIDIA SHIELD. While SHIELD was the first Streaming Media Player to support for 4k, NVIDIA recently announced that SHIELD will also support HDR (high dynamic range) media streaming. Easily one of the biggest advances in display quality in the past two decades, HDR offers up to 2x the visible colors of other offerings (75% of visible spectrum), brighter displays, more saturated colors and more than 10,000 to 1 the contrast ratio of competing standards. As Streaming Media Players are able to iterate faster than Smart TVs, they’ll always be on the cutting edge of what new technology is available.

Another key feature that separates Streaming Media Players from Smart TVs is voice search. Many, if not most, Smart TVs lack this feature and while most Streaming Media Players offer voice search, NVIDIA SHIELD is unique in that while voice search works across apps, SHIELD is the only Streaming Media Player to offer voice search within YouTube. Check out the video below to see how it works.

Ever Growing App Landscape

Everyday someone asks me how they can cut the cord. Of course my first question is always, “What kind of shows do you watch?” This is where the app landscape comes into play. For hardcore movie buffs I’ll suggest one solution while for TV fans and sports junkies I’ll often suggest other options. The process of getting new apps to Streaming Media Players like NVIDIA SHIELD is super simple compared to many Smart TVs. For Android TV devices like SHIELD for instance, adding new apps is as simple as heading over to the Google Play store and installing new apps once they’re made available. My Sharp Aquos Smart TV however, has mostly the same apps that it shipped with several years ago.

Add to that the fact that the SHIELD app landscape is always getting better. Just recently SHIELD got the WatchESPN and Spotify apps and many more apps from the likes of Disney and Viacom (MTV and Comedy Central) are on the horizon.

Additionally, SHIELD has many cord cutting apps like HBO NOW ($15 per month) and SHOWTIME ($11 per month) and subscription based apps like HBO Go and and SHOWTIME Anytime.

Don’t Forget About Gaming

Everyone has someone in the family who plays games and Smart TV processors are entry-level devices that aren’t designed for games. Of course, while many Streaming Media Players tout their gaming prowess only SHIELD, with its Tegra X1 processor has the horsepower to play console and PC quality games. Whether playing native Android games or streaming PC-quality games with our game streaming service GeForce NOW, a Streaming Media Player like SHIELD is heads and shoulders above any Smart TV.

There you have it. If you’re considering whether or not to buy a Streaming media Player or a Smart TV the choice is yours. With a Streaming Media Player like SHIELD, you'll benefit from a device that boasts ease of use, superior technology, a superior app landscape, flexibility, and affordability. If you don’t already own one, pick up an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV today!

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