IPTV Guides – The ultimate IPTV streaming guide!

IPTV is getting ever more popular, liberating users from expensive contracts and limited content. The average cable bill in the US is currently about $99 a month according to NBC News – that’s a rise of about 8 percent each year since 2010. That is $99 you are spending on top of your mobile phone and internet bill! Additionally, regional broadcasting rights may prevent you from viewing your favorite content in your home country.

So, you are looking to give up on expensive cable or satellite! You are in luck, there is a new way of watching your favorite movies and sports broadcasts. Continue reading to find out how you can stream all the media content at a significantly lower price with greater convenience.

What is IPTV

“Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats.”

This means that entertainment content can now be broadcasted and received by anyone with an Internet connection. This gives rise to greater competition and lower prices. More importantly, it allows for a greater user experience, empowering you to watch what you want and when you want. You are not watching media on a receiver anymore, you have an entertainment center at your fingertips.

“This IPTV stuff sounds complicated” is a common reaction. IPTV itself may very well be highly technical and difficult to set up. The good news is: There are a number of plug-and-play solutions out there that require no experience or configuration whatsoever. It is as easy as plugging a box into your TV and sitting down on your couch. Further below we will look at the different kind of set-top boxes available and which devices you should choose.

How to stream IPTV

In order to watch IPTV content, you need a device to receive and decode the stream as well as a source to connect to that serves the channels, movies and sports broadcasts you want. There are three types of devices that give you access to streaming content:

  • Smart TVs
  • Mobile phones and tablets
  • Set-top boxes

Let us have a look at the main advantages and disadvantages of these devices.

Smart TV

We will keep this very short: They are garbage for streaming! Limited processing power, slow navigation and few options for customization, for the most part, disqualify SmartTVs as streaming devices. Most noteworthy, they do not stream out of the box and will need an additional configuration. You buy a TV to display an image, that is what they do best. IPTV is not their strength.

Mobile phones and tablets

The main advantage of using a mobile phone or tablet for streaming is that you don’t have to buy another device. They have ample processing power for streaming and are very intuitive to use thanks to their touch screens. The main drawback is, of course, the small screen size. Would you rather watch a movie on your iPhone or your big screen television in the living room?

Also, not all content providers develop apps for live streaming. You are mostly limited to video on demand streaming and won’t find a great selection of live television channels. Lastly, they are not pre-configured to stream out of the box, however, installing additional applications is easy if you know what you are looking for.

In case you do opt to use your existing tablet or mobile phone for streaming, we highly recommend taking advantage of a screen mirroring device. These allow you to send your mobile device’s screen contents to your television wirelessly to enjoy the big picture experience. Our top pick is without a doubt the Fire TV Stick. Apple users will have to shell out a bit more cash and get the Apple TV.

If you are already using streaming apps on your phone and just look to improve the experience, screen mirroring is a good choice. However, this solution will not replace your existing cable subscription and you will soon outgrow your setup. The best experience is to available on the purpose-built set-top boxes.

Set-Top Boxes

Contrary to SmartTVs and your everyday cell phone and tablet, set-top boxes are designed to do one thing: Stream media. And boy are they good at it! There are countless different boxes out there, from small Chinese no-name brands to flagship devices from tech giants.

We will be looking at three different types of streaming boxes: Generic Android boxes, IPTV set-top boxes and dedicated video on demand Android TV boxes. Common to all three are their plug-n-play ease of use, user interfaces that are focused on streaming, vast entertainment content, user-friendliness and superior performance compared to the previously listed devices. Setting up these boxes is as easy as connecting them to your TV via HDMI and plugging in the power.

Generic Android Boxes

Android TV Boxes are very similar to mobile phones in that they run on Android OS on top of Linux. They are basically a small and surprisingly powerful personal computer in a small box that you can easily hide out of sight in your living room. Because these devices run on Android, they are extremely versatile allowing to do much more than just stream IPTV. You can use them to surf the web, play games, run office applications and much more. These small powerhouses are truly a jack of all trades.

What makes Android Boxes so great as an entertainment hub is their affordability and flexibility. There are dozens of Android TV boxes for under $50 that can stream 4K content without issues. For a couple of dollars more, the mid to high-end devices provide as much processing power and memory as modern computers, allowing you to enjoy gaming (with the right gamepad) or watch content in HDR. If you prefer to not have a clunky box in your living room, you can also use an Android TV Stick as your multimedia hub.

All of these devices give you access to the Android Play store. There, you can download millions of apps to expand the capability of your device. One app you will come across a lot is Kodi. Kodi is a media center with incredible functionality and thousands of plugins that allow you to stream any content you want, from movies to TV shows, all free of charge. However, since many of these plugins are free, their reliability is very limited.

A much better option for streaming is using paid IPTV services. Of course, there are many apps in the Android Play store that allow you to enjoy IPTV streaming on your Android box, such as the STB Emulator or the excellent Perfect Player.

A word of caution, though; there are more Android TV boxes available than most readers could fit in their living room. And the quality of these devices varies wildly. We don’t want you to end up with a box that only provides menus in Chinese language or that constantly buffers during playback. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for.

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