I get a lot of questions, and I love it. It’s really humbling that so many of you look to me (and this site) to help you get the best streaming experience possible. In this post, I’ve accumulated some of my most frequently asked questions about streaming devices and media players. I’ll cover devices like TV boxes, the official Android TV (including the NVIDIA Shield and Smart TV’s), Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire Stick as well as media players like Kodi, Plex and others.
This is going to be a living page which will be updated frequently. As soon as I see streaming device questions being asked by several people, I’ll include it on this page. So keep checking back, and if you have a question that I didn’t cover, include it in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.
If you’re brand new to streaming devices or Android TV boxes, check out my Start Here page for some basic information.
Streaming Device Questions (General FAQ)
If I purchase this box, can I cancel my cable subscription?
I cancelled my cable TV subscription long before I got my first streaming device, so yes. There are plenty of options to replace the content you’re getting from cable TV without having a cable subscription. A streaming device just makes it easier to aggregate that content for you in an easy to use platform.
Can I use this box with an older TV?
It depends on the connections that your TV has, more than the age of the actual TV itself. As long as your TV has an HDMI port, then any streaming device I’ve ever reviewed on this site will work. (For more on what an HDMI port is and what it looks like, check out my TV Connections 101 article.)
Can I use a VPN with a streaming device?
Absolutely. I recommend using a VPN with any streaming device. Not only can you get access content that might be restricted based on where you live, but you’ll protect your sensitive personal data as well. You can find more details in my article Why use a VPN for Android TV boxes.
What Internet speed do I need for streaming?
It depends on the picture quality you want and how many TV’s you’ll be watching at any one time.
According to Netflix, a low quality, standard definition video will use about 300MB per hour of streaming, per television. Once you start streaming in high definition (HD) quality, that number goes up quickly. HD streams can use up to 3 GB per hour, per television. 4K video can be over double that amount!
In general, figure on at a bare minimum, you’ll need an Internet speed of 5 megabits per second coming to your streaming device. Keep in mind, that the more devices are on your home network, the smaller a piece of the pie is available for your streaming device.
My article, Does Streaming Use Data will have more details and examples.
Does a streaming device work in my country?
Absolutely. Streaming devices will work anywhere in the world. The content that is available will change, based on your location, however. That’s one reason why I recommend a VPN to get around the geographic restrictions (geoblocking).
Do I need a Smart TV to use a streaming device?
No. A Smart TV is a streaming device itself, actually. What makes the TV “smart” is the ability to access content from sources like Netflix, YouTube or Plex. A separate streaming devices may give you access to channels that your Smart TV doesn’t have, or it may give better performance. But if you already have a Smart TV, you only need a streaming device if you’re not getting everything you want from your TV.
Android TV boxes FAQ
What TV box should I get?
It depends on what you’re looking for and how comfortable you are tweaking the box. Most Android TV boxes are not “plug and play.” Most will need some configuration and regular maintenance to get them to work correctly. Think of it like getting an oil change in your car.
I’ll suggest two buyer’s guides that should help get you started:
- If you’re looking for the best all-around performing Android TV Box, check out my Best Android TV Box guide here.
- If you’re more a “tech newbie” then check out my Fully Loaded Kodi Box article here.
Can I get live TV?
Yes. There are several streaming services like Sling TV or FuboTV where you can get live TV for a fraction of the price of your Cable TV subscription. There are also several free options as well that should be able to give you the content you’re looking for.
Amazon Fire TV FAQ (including Fire Stick)
Do you have to have Amazon Prime to use the Fire TV or Fire Stick?
No, but it certainly helps. Amazon sets up all of their devices to look for content on Amazon first. This is true for the Fire TV streaming devices as well as the Fire tablets and Alexa speakers. Content on Amazon will always be the first result.
That said, you don’t need to be an Amazon Prime subscriber to enjoy a Fire TV device, but you will find that you’ll have to skip down past the Amazon results in the search to find what you’re looking for.
How much does Fire TV cost per month?
There is no monthly charge for any Amazon devices. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, that service is billed on a yearly basis, but that also includes much more than their Amazon Prime Video streaming service. You’re also paying for the Prime free shipping, streaming music, free Kindle books, etc..
How do I use Alexa on the Fire TV?
If you’ve got one of the newer Fire TV’s or Fire Sticks with the Alexa Voice Remote, simply hit the microphone button at the top of the remote and say “Alexa…”
How do I install Kodi on Fire Stick?
This used to be a lot harder than it is today. Kodi is now available in the Amazon App Store and the Aptoide App Store as simple downloads. You can install Kodi as you would any other app.
NVIDIA Shield TV FAQ
Can I add an external hard drive to my NVIDIA Shield?
Definitely. The 16 GB NVIDIA Shield TV has all of the power of the Shield TV Pro, minus the larger hard drive. But, you can add an external hard drive or flash drive for pretty cheap and increase your storage space easily. I’ve got a detailed article of how to adding NVIDIA Shield TV external storage here.
Is Kodi Illegal?
No. Kodi by itself is perfectly legal. Where it gets into a legal grey area is how you access the movies and TV shows on Kodi. Kodi was designed to play your own media files that you’ve ripped from DVD’s or Blu-Ray discs. With third-party addons, you can stream content from various sites on the Internet.
Here’s where the grey area starts. Many addons will allow you to access content for free that you’d otherwise have to pay for. This can be movies that are still in the theatres or subscription content like HBO’s Game of Thrones or PPV Sports Events.
Right now, the laws haven’t caught up to the technology. Streaming content that you’d normally pay for hasn’t yet been deemed illegal, but it’s only a matter of time.
Illegal or not, piracy will always be around. If Kodi becomes too hard to get free content, then something else will rise up and take it’s place.
What content can I stream from Kodi?
When you install Kodi, it’s essentially a clean slate. You can put whatever you want on it. Personally, I have all of my movies and TV shows that I’ve ripped from DVD’s and Blu-ray discs. There’s also some streaming content that I access using various addons.
Do I need a VPN with Kodi?
I HIGHLY recommend one. With the legal swirl around Kodi and piracy right now, it’s a good idea to keep yourself safe. For more details, check out my article on Do I need VPN for Kodi?