If you already have a good TV or are buying a new TV, perhaps one of the High Dynamic Range-enabled (HDR) TVs from Samsung or a 4K OLED TV from LG, you are probably looking forward to quenching that video thirst you experienced at Best Buy or Costco when you were first awed by their gorgeous video clips and extremely vivid imagery. These demos show jaw-dropping detail, often accompanied by panning and zooming, with deep rich colors that make you feel like your TV is a window into a new world.
But you are only part way there after you replace your first or second generation flat screen. Unless your new TV has a Roku TV built-in (check it), then you need to purchase a Roku to receive streaming media channels, like Art Stream Videos, in your home or place of business.
With the exception of the Roku Streaming Stick, Rokus are black, hockey puck-shaped boxes that plug into your TV via your HDMI port. Rokus have an extremely easy to use remote; shortcut buttons for running some popular apps like Amazon Video; and the top “Ultra” model also accepts voice commands. And search is a snap. However, you need a decent Wi-Fi internet connection for receiving the signal.
Match Your Roku to Your TV. Rokus are available at Amazon or directly from Roku. You can also purchase Rokus at most standard retailers like Walmart or Best Buy, but you need to be somewhat careful you are getting the right one. The Roku you select must meet the minimal hardware requirements necessary to experience the type of video supported on your TV: HD (1,920 pixel x 1,080 pixel), 4K/UHD (3,840 pixel x2,160 pixel), and now, HDR with even higher dynamic color range (not resolution). Here’s what you need:
Roku Ultra. Just get the best one. The Ultra has a USB port and an optical digital audio out for plugging into your home theater’s receiver. It is currently the only Roku with voice search when using the remote, although voice search is not very well done, at least yet, on Roku. The Ultra’s list cost is now only $99.99 (down from $130). If you are planning to get or have a home theater, the Ultra is only $20 more than the Roku Premiere+, making the Ultra a no-brainer.
Roku Stick/Roku Express/Roku Express+. These are less expensive devices designed for old fashioned Standard Definition (SD) 720p x 576 pixel TVs and HD TVs. But if you only want to run Art Stream Videos on an older TV and are on a very tight budget, then you can get by with one of these inexpensive candy bar shaped devices.
HDMI Cables. You may need to get the latest HDMI 2.0a cables to properly transmit all the HDR data from your new Roku or 4K player to your new HDR TV.
Wi-Fi Mesh Network. It doesn’t make sense to attach a new Roku to your new TV if it receives a weak or intermittent internet signal. (You may have tried the older Wi-Fi “extender” technology to extend your signal from your office to your den and given up on that.) The clear solution is to purchase one of the new mesh home networks from either Eero, Google, or Netgear.
This home network Wi-Fi architecture bounces the signal from a central base station to one or more satellite stations to eliminate slow, intermittent signals and dead zones. Netgear’s $300 Orbi AC3000 supports the fastest connections, but has a clunky set up and wins no design awards. Eero’s system is the most expensive at $400 for a pack of three, but has a flat out simple set up, and is aesthetically the most pleasing. Google’s Wifi costs less at $300, but has a slightly less polished interface than Eero.
All this being said, Art Stream Videos does not yet support native 4K/UHD, let alone HDR. Art Stream Videos will support 4K/UHD in the near future – the biggest bottleneck is ensuring our artists and galleries provide images of their artwork at these higher resolutions, and enough of our customers have these TVs paired with the appropriate Roku.
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