Do I Need Roku If I Have A Smart TV? Many cord cutters who are new to the process of determining what equipment they will require are perplexed as to what their Smart TV actually does. Depending on the make and model of your Smart TV, it can perform a variety of functions.
However, it will connect to the internet and allow you to access some content at the very least. If this is the case, you may be wondering, “Do I need a Roku if I have a Smart TV?”
While your “smart” TV does include some video streaming, music, and game apps, it simply falls short when compared to a video streaming product like Roku.
DO I NEED ROKU IF I HAVE A SMART TV?
While you don’t need Roku if you have a smart TV, Roku has more content options, an easier menu to navigate and manage, a better remote, faster and smoother load times, more frequent updates, and fewer garbage or “throwaway” apps than a standard smart TV!
Even if you already own a smart TV, you should consider purchasing a Roku streaming device.
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT TV VIEWING HABITS?
What are your favorite shows to watch on a regular basis? And, more specifically, what would you like to watch but are unable to do so at the moment? You probably don’t need any streaming devices if you don’t miss any specific TV shows or news broadcasts.
I’m a firm believer in only purchasing what you need when you need it. If you don’t have a problem that needs to be solved, don’t create one. If you’ve been reading a lot about cord cutters using Roku Streaming Sticks or Amazon Fire TV Sticks, that doesn’t mean you need one as well.
However, if you are missing some specific programming, please fix it. Before you go out and buy any other equipment, see if you can get that content through your Smart TV. You might be able to stream Sling TV or Philo directly from the interface of your Smart TV.
Many Smart TVs will let you install apps and stream content without the use of an external streaming device, such as a Roku. However, when it comes to accessing content, Smart TVs have more limitations than a dedicated streaming device.
WHAT IS ROKU?
Roku gives you access to both free and paid TV shows and movies through a single interface. It serves as a hub for all of your entertainment needs.
It’s similar to an iPhone in a lot of ways. It gives you access to all of the available TV and movie apps, allowing you to pick and choose which ones you want and then organize them accordingly. It’s also incredibly simple to set up and use.
As a result, most smart TVs have attempted to replicate Roku’s success, but Roku continues to outperform them in nearly every way.
1. CONTENT IS KING
It wasn’t long ago that your television options were fairly limited – you either had cable or you didn’t. Then there were the premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz. You had to pay extra for access to this “premium” content, but it was, for the most part, far superior to cable television.
This model of premium, stream able content took off in the 2000s, with companies such as Netflix blazing the trail. Not long after Netflix’s success, the Hulus, Amazon Primes, and Disney Pluses of the world began to appear, and consumers’ access to great content expanded exponentially.
The TV watching world underwent a dramatic shift from a foundation built on cable, to a foundation built on streaming apps.
Unsurprisingly, that’s when “smart” TVs started to come about. People wanted easy access to their existing streaming subscriptions, so TV manufacturers began collaborating with these companies to build their apps directly into their TVs.
Which was great in some ways (you could access it directly from your TV) but terrible in others. The bad part was/is that TV brands have to compete for contracts with these streaming services in order to put them on their TVs, and even worse, these deals sometimes become “exclusive.” All of this is to say that your smart TV may not have access to all of the available streaming apps.
This is where Roku comes into play. Because Roku has such a large user base (it is currently the market leader for streaming services), streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and others want to be on the Roku platform because that is where the consumer is.
As a result, Roku has the most available streaming apps. If you have a subscription to a streaming service, chances are you can access it through Roku. That is simply not the case with a standalone smart TV.
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2. USER EXPERIENCE MATTERS
TV manufacturers began by manufacturing and selling televisions (hardware), not software. And it’s obvious. Companies like LG, Vizio, and Sony scrambled to assemble teams of engineers, developers, and designers to build the app interface you eventually interact with to find and launch Netflix, for example.
These “smart” features were viewed as “add-ons” to the TV, and as a result, the interfaces developed by these companies are simply not user-friendly or intuitive. It can be excruciatingly difficult to locate a streaming app on many of these TVs.
Roku, on the other hand, was created in tandem with these streaming apps. Surprisingly, Roku was once owned by Netflix.
As a result, Roku designed its software with the end-user, you, in mind from the start. The design is straightforward and simple to use, and you can organize and rearrange the menu/apps as you see fit. You can use Roku if you can use an iPhone.
3. REMOTE CONTROLS ARE STILL A THING
Another overlooked aspect of Roku is the remote that comes with it. In my experience, the “smart” TV remote that comes with a TV is usually oversized and has 50+ buttons. It’s difficult to use. Roku’s remotes are delightfully simple (are you sensing a pattern here?).
Depending on the model, there are usually less than 20 buttons, and each one serves a purpose. It has “quick-launch” buttons for popular streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, in addition to basic functionality such as controlling the TV’s volume and changing channels.
You can use these to launch those apps with a single click of a button. Not too shabby. You can also use the remote to organize your home page of apps and move your favorite apps to the top. In addition to the actual remote, Roku built a “Roku remote app” that you can download to your smart phone. This is really handy for me since I often lose remotes but rarely lose my iPhone.
4. SPEED MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Smart TVs fall short on speed in two ways. The first is a hardware issue. The majority of smart TVs have relatively weak processors that struggle to keep up with the demands of streaming apps like Netflix.
When attempting to use streaming apps via the smart TV interface, I personally experienced a significant amount of lag time. The second speed constraint is caused by software.
Streaming apps devote their time and resources to developing and building their app so that it is compatible with the platforms that reach the greatest number of consumers. There are currently four major players: Roku, Apple, Amazon, and Google.
So if you’re not one of those four companies, odds are the app built for your product didn’t get built with the same level of care and attention to detail. That’s why it’s slow and buggy and occasionally just outright freezes on you.
5. SOFTWARE CHANGES OFTEN, UPDATES ARE NECESSARY
The same reason mentioned above (major streaming apps simply not focusing a lot of time and resources on building their app for anyone other than the Big Four) has an impact on software updates. Software is never “finished.” It is constantly evolving and (hopefully) improving.
As new changes, features, and fixes are added, they are released as an update to the existing software version. These updates and fixes arrive faster and more frequently on Roku than on any other smart TV platform.
Again, it’s all about the consumer, and the vast majority of them are using Roku. It only makes sense that Roku would concentrate their efforts there.
6. THROW AWAY THE TRASH
The junk that smart TV interfaces add that you can’t get rid of is a major annoyance. There are always obscure streaming apps that strike a deal with TV manufacturers to be included in their interface, which you then have to look at every day but never use.
This does not occur on Roku because you have complete control over your app menu. Do you see an app that you don’t use? No worries, just delete it.
Can’t find an app for which you have a subscription? Don’t worry, simply search for it and download it, then rearrange your menu so it appears at the top. Again, Roku has mastered simple concepts that smart TVs have not.
There are certain situations where buying Roku or another streaming service just isn’t necessary. The first would be if you aren’t using the “smart” aspect of your smart TV. For example, if you only watch cable and don’t have any subscriptions to streaming apps, you shouldn’t get a Roku.
Yes, a smart TV can function without an internet connection. Furthermore, if you have a gaming system such as an XBox One or a Playstation 4, these devices have streaming services built in that work quite well.
I’d look into these first and see if you like them before purchasing Roku. Finally, you can avoid purchasing an additional device entirely by purchasing a smart TV that includes Roku! Several TV manufacturers, including TCL and Sharp, have taken this approach.
ARE A ROKU AND SMART TV THE SAME?
At first glance, it appears that a Smart TV and a Roku do the same thing: both require an internet connection to activate streaming functionality. They both have voice search and can support 4K resolution.
So, if you own a Smart TV, why do you need a Roku account? After all, whether you have Roku channels or not, there are numerous things you can do with a Smart TV. To get basic TV services, you don’t need a Roku app.
You can watch TV shows and movies on demand (VoD) services and subscribe to live television channels. You can watch videos from the internet.
Many Smart TV owners, however, supplement their sets with Roku streaming sticks. As it turns out, there are some things that a Smart TV simply cannot compete with a TV equipped with a Roku media player. Streaming players, such as Roku, are faster, easier to use, and more reliable than traditional Smart TVs.
WHAT CONTENT STREAMING SUBSCRIPTIONS DO YOU ALREADY HAVE?
If you’re debating whether or not you need a Roku device, I’m guessing you don’t have any content services lined up yet. However, some people do use their iPads or laptops to stream services like Netflix and Hulu, so it never hurts to check.
Did you also know that if you have Amazon Prime, you already have a subscription to a content streaming service? You probably already knew that but if you didn’t, I strongly advise you to consider a Fire TV Stick rather than a Roku device.
My current recommendation for the best streaming device to replace cable TV is the Fire TV Stick, which integrates seamlessly with Amazon Prime Video. And if you only subscribe to Amazon Prime for the free shipping and other perks, you already have a great streaming service at your disposal.
If you don’t yet have any streaming services and don’t plan on streaming much content from Amazon, Roku is still a great option.
WHAT KIND OF SMART TV DO YOU HAVE?
Most television manufacturers have collaborations with other companies, both in hardware and software. This is also true for Roku TVs. TCL, for example, has partnered with Roku to bring consumers Smart TVs that include Roku functionality.
So, just make sure you’re aware of your Smart TV’s capabilities. Don’t buy something you don’t actually need. Check that you are not purchasing a Roku streaming device if you already have a Roku on your TV.
MAKE SURE YOUR ROKU DEVICE IS COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR TV’S RESOLUTION
Roku does offer a low-cost entry-level device, but it only supports HD resolution (1080p). It does not support resolutions of 4K or higher. The Roku Express is what it’s called. It’s an excellent value for people who just want a simple way to stream HD content.
So, if the resolution of your device and TV isn’t a major concern for you, the Roku Express could be an excellent choice.
If you have a TV that supports UHD 4K streaming, you should get a higher-end Roku device or something else that supports higher resolution streaming. Roku has a few devices that support this higher resolution as well. The cost of progressing to the next level is also very reasonable.
WHICH ROKU IS BEST?
If you do decide to get a Roku, you’ll notice that there are a variety of devices to choose from. We compiled a list of the best streaming devices to replace cable. Make sure to look into it.
When selecting a device, you should look for the following features:
- What is the device’s resolution?
- What types of internet connections (WiFi / Ethernet) does it provide?
- How positive are the reviews?
- What year was it released? (newer is better)
- What apps do not work with the device?
CAN I USE A ROKU FOR A NON-SMART TV?
A streaming device like a Roku shines brightest in a home with a non-smart TV. If your current TV isn’t a Smart TV and doesn’t have internet connectivity or a streaming interface, plugging in a streaming device will almost instantly transform your non-smart TV into a Smart TV.
The only requirement is that your streaming device be able to connect to your television. Typically, this entails connecting your Roku, Fire TV Stick, or Apple TV to your television’s HDMI port. Even if your TV is so old that it lacks an HDMI port, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a suitable adapter to connect your TV to your favorite device.
For example, most older televisions have RCA connections on the back of the set. RCA to HDMI adapters are widely available on Amazon and in a variety of big-box stores. Simply take photos of the back of your TV to compare once you’re in the store.
CONCLUSION: Do I Need Roku If I Have A Smart TV?
So, if you already have a smart TV, do you need Roku? Whether or not you already own a smart TV, you should think about purchasing a Roku streaming device because Roku has:
- more content
- a better interface
- a simpler remote
- faster loading time
- more frequent updates
- less “throwaway” apps
That said, if you only watch cable on your smart TV, or if you have an Xbox One or Playstation 4, you don’t really need Roku since these devices already have robust streaming interfaces built in.
FAQs About Roku Smart TV
What does Roku do for a smart TV?
Stream the best free and paid content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV, HBO, SHOWTIME, PBS, and The Roku Channel. Thousands of additional channels for sports, news, international, and children’s programming, as well as broadcast channels such as ABC and CBS.
Is a streaming device required if you have a smart TV?
Is a streaming device required if you have a smart TV? Yes, and here’s why. Buying a TV based on a smart UI may appear practical, but you’re better off using a streaming add-on.
Which is better smart TV or Roku TV?
Roku TV offers a variety of high-quality yet low-cost smart TVs that allow cord-cutters to watch their favorite streaming services directly on their television. The devices use Roku’s technology and OS, which makes them less expensive than other smart TVs on the market.