Imagine having a mega video store with no late fees in your very own home. Well, with the rise of streaming content and massive leaps in hardware which allows you to watch what you want, when you want from the comfort of your couch are easier to find than ever.
Many people are familiar with Netflix; the American streaming service recently launched here in Australia but has been so popular overseas many Aussies were finding tricky ways to pay for access to the US service. For $8.99 per month you can access a massive database of film and TV streams which you can watch.
Preempting the arrival of Netflix in Australia, several players in the Australian television market pushed their own subscription offerings: Stan, $10 per month, and Presto, $14.99 per month for full access. Both have their own large databases of content from around the world. They joined the free ABC iView and SBS OnDemand platforms, both of which have vast video libraries and good mobile apps.
For many, the choice of which service or services to sign up for boils down to what each is showing.
Not sure what a streaming service is? Chances are you have watched videos on YouTube before, and these services are relatively similar, albeit not all free. You are not able to download and keep the content, but you do get unlimited access to their databases during your subscription.
There are many reasons to use a streaming service in Australia: poor TV reception and simply wanting to watch something that is not on the box are two good ones.
Of course, watching TV at a computer does not appeal to most people, and notebooks are only comfortable for so long. But happily, the methods of delivery have multiplied and dropped in price and size in recent years.
You can purchase devices not much larger than a flash drive which run Windows and stream well for around $200, as well as tiny full PCs that could fit in your jacket pocket for around $600.
These can plug into the back of your TV and give you access to these worlds of entertainment as well as light games, the internet and more.
Many TVs also now feature the ability to stream content as a factory feature – Smart TVs have become the norm for mid- and high-end screen offerings.
Of course, it is worth checking your internet usage before signing up for anything – for the occasional movie buff a 50GB monthly plan limit could be enough, but if you think the online offerings could replace the antenna on your roof you will likely need something more. Ask your local internet provider if you are unsure.