As TVs get smarter and smarter, you may be wondering whether it's better to buy a smart TV or make your current TV smarter with streaming devices and universal remotes. As with all electronics, the best choice depends on your personal preferences. Here are some things to consider when deciding which will deliver the viewing experience you want.

You Should Buy a Smart TV If . . .

If you’re ready to buy a new TV, whether it’s because your current TV has lived a long, happy life and it’s time, or you want to upgrade your screen size, go the smart TV route. Smart TVs are becoming more and more affordable. And people are definitely buying them more often – in fact, nearly 60% of TV sales worldwide for the first half of 2017 were smart TVs. So if it’s time for a new screen, smart is the, well, smarter choice.

Every brand of smart TV has built-in apps for key streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, etc. Some also include games, web browsers and other goodies. That’s convenient. A growing number of manufacturers now build in Roku or other streaming technology, so you can have your new TV and get all the programming versatility you want, without having to invest in a separate box. Hmmmm.

But what if you want to watch something else, too? You may want both a smart TV and a streaming device. Experts suggest that the $100 or so you pay for the add-on box could be well worth the investment.


You Should Add A Streaming Device to Your Current TV If . . .

You don’t need to buy a new TV, but want maximum viewing versatility. If you are looking to make your TV “smarter” without having to spend money on a brand new TV, a streaming device is the best option for you.

There are several popular brands of streaming devices, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Amazon and Apple offer the broadest content options for movies and TV shows (Roku and Apple TV incorporate Amazon Instant Video as well as HBO Go). But, really, there are numerous options.

Most streaming devices, also called set-top boxes, receive periodic upgrades as manufacturers add features, so it’s easier to stay au courant than with a TV. When connecting your streaming devices to your TV, you will want to think about where to hide them so they don’t become an eyesore. We like to mount ours right to the back of our TV using a Streaming Media Player Mounting Bracket that hides all your devices behind your TV.

Special-Case Considerations

At the end of the day, what you ultimately choose as your smart option may come down to the cost. A streaming device can cost as little as $60 while a Smart TV will start around $150 for a smaller screen size.

But there are other things to consider when making the final decision. If you travel frequently, having a Roku device handy might be a good idea. They are small and lightweight and can easily be hooked up to your hotel TV. This is particularly a good idea if you have your kiddos along and they have a favorite set of shows.

Do you tend to fall asleep while watching TV? This can be especially easy if you have a TV in the bedroom. The Roku TV has a sleep timer that automatically shuts off the content stream at a certain point, saving you from paying for excessive (and unwatched) data usage.

Are you a sports fanatic? If so, whether you decide to buy a new smart TV or add a set-top box for streaming, maybe it’s also time to upgrade to live streaming sports.

It’s what you want to watch that should determine whether you get a smart TV or make your current TV smarter.