704-301-1170 Robert@SoundAdvice.com

Streaming Audio Video 

A Guide to Audio and Video Streaming

Your cable box and Dish are gone –
as extinct as the dodo bird.

Does that mean that nobody watches movies or listens to music anymore? Of course not. It simply means that we’re getting our audio and video entertainment from a faster and more convenient place – the Internet. No trips to the mall. No waiting in line. No backorders for popular new releases. Everything we want to watch and hear is now instantly available from the comfort of our living room or office desk. Like the dodo bird, video and CD stores are just not relevant to today’s technology and their time has come and gone. Today, a household with an Internet connection has the entire world of entertainment at its fingertips.
Through the Internet movies and music can be either downloaded or streamed. If you’re not familiar with the difference between the two, let’s take a closer look.
Streaming vs. Downloading

What is streaming? That’s a question that any knowledgable TV and audio enthusiast should know the answer to. So let’s look at what it’s all about and how it differs from downloading.
Audio/video streaming is playing audio or video content that is physically stored somewhere else. For example, when you watch a YouTube video on your computer, the video content is actually stored on YouTube’s servers – you are playing remotely stored content. The video file is delivered to your computer like water flowing from a tap. After a few gulps, it all disappears down the drain.
Another way to think of streaming is to replace the word stream with the word broadcast. Typical over-the-air television and radio broadcasts are in many ways just like streaming audio/video. You enjoy the broadcast, but you don’t get to keep it. It just disappears (unless you a have a recorder connected).
Streaming is different than downloading. When you go to iTunes to buy a song, you are downloading it to your computer. You “own” it. You can play it anytime you want, copy to to another computer (if it’s not copyright protected), and in general do whatever you want with it. Streaming is more like “renting.” You watch it in real time, and when it’s over, it’s over. A streaming file is not saved. If you want to see it again, you have to begin the streaming process one more time.
There are advantages to streaming. The biggest one is that it eliminates the need for massive data storage. Even with the latest compression schemes, a full HD or 4K movie can require a lot of disk space. Since streaming movies are not stored, there is no need for massive hard drives and the such. Another huge advantage is that you don’t have to wait for the content to download before viewing. Depending on your home network’s speed, this can be a substantial amount of time (hours, not minutes).
Streaming Service Providers
Streaming audio and video has become big business. YOUTUBE TV, NETFLIX, Spectrum….     That means there’s a lot of competition for your patronage. The providers are always looking for ways to improve content, selection, and accessibility. But with so many choices available, it’s important that you select a streaming content provider that fits your taste and viewing/listening habits.
Many streaming services are free. YouTube is a great example. Access to their catalog of millions of videos doesn’t cost a penny. But there’s a catch; there’s a ton of advertising to wade through. Also free services like YouTube don’t offer the best and latest content. If you want to see videos on whaling in Nova Scotia, YouTube is a great source. If you want to watch the latest Spiderman sequel, not so much.
For the best selection of content, you really need a subscription service. Let’s look a few of the most popular.
Netflix provides unlimited streaming of TV shows, movies, comedy specials and original programming for one monthly subscription fee. It’s a great service and remains the most popular. You can even create up to five different profiles on a single account to make sure that your favorite content doesn’t mess up recommendations for your friends and loved ones. Netflix is also a premier source for 4K Ultra HD programming with a wide and growing selection of titles that can be viewed with the sparkling clarity that 4K television offers.
Hulu Plus
To watch the latest TV shows without investing in cable or an HD antenna, Hulu Plus is the great solution. For a reasonable monthly subscription fee you get access to most major network shows (aside from CBS) and some cable shows the day after they air. Hulu Plus also hosts original shows, a selection of offbeat movies, and a surprising amount of classic anime series. Even with a paid subscription, you have to sit through commercials, but far fewer than if you watched the same shows on cable.
Cable TV without the expensive cable bills. That’s the idea behind Sling. With a monthly subscription fee (no contract or set-top box rental fees) you get about a dozen real-time channels. Sling is also the only place to watch ESPN without cable or satellite TV. For hard-core sports fans, this alone is worth the price. And there’s more, including networks such as CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS and the Food Network.
Spotify is an music-only provider with a 20 million strong catalogue of tracks available to listen to. With Spotify you listen to individual artists or bands, create playlists of tracks, or listen to individual albums. There’s also an option that plays music related to your original artist of choice, although if this is your primary desire you may want to look at the next provider on in this list: Pandora. Spotify is a free service, but if you want to eliminate all the advertising Spotify offers a premium service at a affordable monthly charge.
Rather than providing music tracks on-demand like Spotify, Pandora users pick an song and let it create a radio station of similar and related music. The system works amazingly well and is a great way to discover new artist and songs that match your particular taste in music. Just like Spotify, basic Pandora is a free service, but there is a premium option without all of the advertising for a yearly or monthly fee.
Bringing Audio/Video Streaming Into Your Home.
Because streaming is a child of Internet technology, a computer is a good place to start. Virtually all free and subscription providers can be accessed by Google. But who wants to watch hit movies with the family and friends on a computer screen. Let’s bring the streaming services into the living and family room.
Many of the televisions that Sound Advice sells have Internet streaming capability built right into them. All you need to do is to connect the television to your home network and set up a subscription account (pay or free). Many TVs give you the option of either a wired ethernet connection or a wireless WiFi connection. This is where things get sticky. There’s no doubt that a WiFi connection is more convenient. No wire. No wiring hassles. But a WiFi connection may not be robust and fast enough for some streaming content, especially high definition and 4K Ultra HD video content. 
Using a plumbing analogy, the Internet “pipe” has to be pretty darned big for all that water to flow through it. Netflix says that 4K service requires a data rate of 15.6Mbps. That’s a fast network. To put that in perspective, a regular high definition movie tops out at around 5.8Mbps. So if you are interested in streaming 4K, a very robust home network is essential and a wired ethernet connection is recommended.
If your TV doesn’t have networking capability built into it, there are lots of other ways to enjoy streaming services. A simple and relatively inexpensive set-top box from Roku, Apple and others provide a connection between your TV and home network especially tailored to access streaming services.

Testimonials from our great customers

“Sound Advice gave us a simple remote with only a few buttons that is very simple to use. The competition tried selling us a complicated All-In-One remote.”

Mike J

“When we arrived home the TV was on the wall and the music was playing…  Great Service”

Sandra M

“We have used Sound Advice in multiple homes over the years.  And now They manage our family business technologies.  Another successful experience”

Mark S

“Speechless.  Our new Sony Laser Projector has an amazing picture and the kids actually use it.”