IPTV Streaming – Ultimate Guide
IPTV is getting ever more popular, liberating users from expensive contracts and limited content. The average cable bill in the US is currently about $99 a month according to NBC News– that’s a rise of about 8 percent each year since 2010. That is $99 you are spending on top of your mobile phone and internet bill! Additionally, regional broadcasting rights may prevent you from viewing your favorite content in your home country. So, are you looking to give up on expensive cable or satellite? You are in luck, there is a new way of watching your favorite movies and sports broadcasts. Continue reading to find out how you can stream all the media content at a significantly lower price with greater convenience.
What is IPTV
Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats. This means that entertainment content can now be broadcast and received by anyone with an Internet connection. This gives rise to greater competition and lower prices. More importantly, it allows for a greater user experience, empowering you to watch what you want and when you want. You are not watching media on a receiver anymore, you have an entertainment center at your fingertips. This IPTV stuff sounds complicated” is a common reaction. IPTV itself may very well be highly technical and difficult to set up. The good news is: There are a number of plug-and-play solutions out there that require no experience or configuration whatsoever. It is as easy as plugging a box into your TV and sitting down on your couch. Further below we will look at the different kinds of set-top boxes available and which devices you should choose
How to stream IPTV
In order to watch IPTV content, you need a device to receive and decode the stream as well as a source to connect to that serves the channels, movies, and sports broadcasts you want. There are three types of devices that give you access to streaming content:
Smart TVs Mobile - Phones and Tablets - Set-top Boxes
Let's have a look at the main advantages and disadvantages of these devices.
We will keep this very short: They are garbage for streaming! Limited processing power, slow navigation and few options for customization, for the most part, disqualify Smart TVs as streaming devices. Most noteworthy, they do not stream out of the box and will need an additional configuration. You buy a TV to display an image, that is what they do best. IPTV is not their strength. If a Smart TV still is what you want, here are a couple of recommendations that help you get the best device for your streaming leisure
Mobile phones and tablets
The main advantage of using a mobile phone or tablet for streaming is that you don’t have to buy another device. They have ample processing power for streaming and are very intuitive to use thanks to their touch screens. The main drawback is, of course, the small screen size. Would you rather watch a movie on your iPhone or your big-screen television in the living room? Also, not all content providers develop apps for live streaming. You are mostly limited to video-on-demand streaming and won’t find a great selection of live television channels. Lastly, they are not pre-configured to stream out of the box, however, installing additional applications is easy if you know what you are looking for. In case you do opt to use your existing tablet or mobile phone for streaming, we highly recommend taking advantage of a screen mirroring device. These allow you to send your mobile device’s screen contents to your television wirelessly to enjoy the big picture experience. Our top pick is without a doubt the Fire TV Stick. Apple users will have to shell out a bit more cash and get the Apple TV. If you are already using streaming apps on your phone and just looking to improve the experience, screen mirroring is a good choice. However, this solution will not replace your existing cable subscription and you will soon outgrow your setup. The best experience is to available on the purpose-built set-top boxes.
Contrary to Smart TVs and your everyday cell phone and tablet, set-top boxes are designed to do one thing: Stream media. And boy are they good at it! There are countless different boxes out there, from small Chinese no-name brands to flagship devices from tech giants. We will be looking at three different types of streaming boxes: Generic Android boxes, IPTV set-top boxes, and dedicated video on demandAndroid TV boxes. Common to all three are their plug-n-play ease of use, user interfaces that are focused on streaming, vast entertainment content, user-friendliness and superior performance compared to the previously listed devices. Setting up these boxes is as easy as connecting them to your TV via HDMI and plugging in the power.
Generic Android Boxes
Android TV Boxes are very similar to mobile phones in that they run on Android OS on top of Linux. They are basically a small and surprisingly powerful personal computer in a small box that you can easily hide out of sight in your living room. Because these devices run on Android, they are extremely versatile allowing them to do much more than just stream IPTV. You can use them to surf the web, play games, run office applications, and much more. These small powerhouses are truly a jack of all trades. What makes Android Boxes so great as an entertainment hub is their affordability and flexibility. There are dozens of android TV boxes for under $50that can stream 4K content without issues. For a couple of dollars more, the mid to high-end devices provide as much processing power and memory as modern computers, allowing you to enjoy gaming (with the right gamepad) or watch content in HDR. If you prefer to not have a clunky box in your living room, you can also use an Android TV Stick as your multimedia hub. All of these devices give you access to the Android Play store. There, you can download millions of apps to expand the capability of your device. One app you will come across a lot is Kodi. Kodi is a media center with incredible functionality and thousands of plugins that allow you to stream any content you want, from movies to TV shows, all free of charge. However, since many of these plugins are free, their reliability is very limited. A much better option for streaming is using paid IPTV services. Of course, there are many apps in the Android Play store that allow you to enjoy IPTV streaming on your Android boxes, such as the STB Emulator or the excellent Perfect Player. A word of caution, though; there are more Android TV boxes available than most readers could fit in their living room. And the quality of these devices varies wildly. We don’t want you to end up with a box that only provides menus in the Chinese language or that constantly buffers during playback. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for.
Android Box Recommendations
Here are four devices we picked for their superior streaming performance, user-friendliness, channel selection, and customer support:
Minix Neo U9-H(Full Review): High-end Android box that brings smooth 4K and HDR video playback to the table. Thanks to its top specs, the Minix Neo U9-H performs incredibly well and has one of the most respected companies behind it. This is important as it ensures that you get timely software updates. We only wished it came with USB 3.0 support. Apart from that, this Android box is a great and versatile streaming box for anyone.
(Full Review): The recently released XB-III comes with Android 7.1 installed, setting it apart from many of the older TV boxes that run on Android 6 (like the Minix Neo U9-H). This ensures maximum compatibility with apps and guarantees that the XB-III won’t become obsolete for many more years, even if GooBang Doo didn’t release an OS update down the line. In terms of streaming, the XB-III is as capable as the U9-H with full 4K support.
Minix Neo U1(Full Review): This neat little box is easier on your wallet than the previous devices, yet packs a serious punch. It supports 4k video playback and comes with a great keyboard remote. However, it runs on the older Android 5 version. Like the previous Android boxes, the U1 has an external antenna giving it great wireless coverage.
Matricom G-Box Q3(Full Review): The G-Box is slightly cheaper than the Neo U1, yet provides very similar specs and performance. You don’t get the versatile keyboard remote that the Minix comes with so you might want to invest in a wireless keyboard or a better remote. We really love the sleek design of this box and the responsiveness of the interface.
Caution: Android TV OS vs Android OS
The downside to 99% of these affordable devices is that they run on Android OS that is designed for phones and tablets. While they are still fully functional, this can cause issues when it comes to DRM and trying to stream 4K content from some services, such as Netflix or Youtube. The difference between Android TV OS and Android OS is that the former is optimized for big-screen use and fully supports high-resolution streaming. On top of that, every device needs Android TV certification to ensure the best user experience. Android OS, on the other hand, is designed for devices with touch screens and lower resolutions and screen sizes. It can be freely installed by anyone which explains why all generic Android boxes come with Android OS. Probably the most popular Android TV OS streaming boxes are the Nvidia Shield TV, MECOOL Km3, or the cheaper box.
Check out a list of Netflix 4K Android boxes