Three things to bear in mind before buying a TV streaming stick

Tiny smart devices that bring thousands of channels to your fingertips.

TV streaming sticks can open up an entire world of entertainment, but there are a few things you should bear in mind before you buy. First, consider which streaming services you want to use. Next, can you cast shows from other devices to your TV with the streaming stick? And finally, is it compatible with any of your other smart devices? Here’s everything you need to know…

Mobile App Integration

Designed to display the highest quality picture (with compatible TV and internet connection), this plug-in device can be controlled by both the included remote, and your phone. Roku

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Earlier iterations of streaming sticks made you choose—if you wanted access to Apple TV, you needed an Apple device, if you wanted to watch Amazon Prime Video, you needed an Amazon device, but not any more. If you buy a plug-in from one company, chances are that you’ll be able to download an app that will allow you to stream content from other, competing companies. While it’s always worth checking if you have a specific channel in mind that you want to watch, don’t stress that you’ve hitched your wagon to the wrong horse, as there’s much more flexibility these days than previously.

Free Trials Included

A value for money option with four weeks access to two premium services packaged in. NOW TV

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While you can probably access pretty much any channel you want from the media stick you’ve got, not all channels are available for free. if there’s one that you want to try before you buy, it’s worth having a scout around to see if any streaming devices come with a free trial. Many will offer a month’s free subscription to some paid-for channels so you can try it out before paying a one-time or monthly fee to access it.

No Extra Remote

Works exclusively with apps on a tablet, laptop, or phone, and also allows you to use your television as an additional screen. Google

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When it comes to additional features, it’s really worth thinking about how you want to use your TV. Some sticks will integrate with home assistants, such as Alexa, meaning you can not only search content using your voice, but even show feeds from connected home security systems and baby monitors on your TV. Others allow you to “cast” from another device, such as a phone or laptop so that you can use your TV as an external monitor.