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IPTV Guide

IPTV Streaming – Ultimate Guide

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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 get 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:

  • SmartTVs
  • Mobile phones and tablets
  • Set-top boxes

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

SmartTVs

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 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.

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick allows you to stream your phone’s screen to your TV

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 . 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: Android TV, IPTV streaming and dedicated video on demand streaming 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 looked at devices. Setting up these boxes is as easy as connecting them to your TV via HDMI and plugging in the power.

Android TV Box

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.

More importantly, they are your best choice when it comes to streaming live television. The devices we list below are either already fully configured for streaming of all the popular channels from around the world or are easily set up using the BlazeKey (Check out our review of the BlazeKey). Whether you are after prime movie channels, live sports broadcasts or the latest TV series, it is all readily available from the moment you plug-in your Android Box. In addition, none of these services require a monthly subscription! Buying these boxes covers all costs of endless IPTV streaming and is by far the most cost-effective way to substitute your expensive cable subscription.

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. Here are four devices we picked for their superior streaming performance, user friendliness, channel selection and customer support:

  • RVEAL Streaming Media Player (Review): The absolute best IPTV experience money can buy! While this is not the cheapest Android box out there, it is by far the easiest and most reliable streaming device you can get. It runs their own custom software on top of Android OS and RVEAL constantly monitors their streams and pushes updates to your box when needed to make sure nothing breaks.
    There is no need to install any additional apps or signing up for any services, you get all the live TV channels and video on demand content you want out of the box. This is the box your grandmother can use. And best of all: They have a support team in the US. So if you do run into any issues, these guys are here to help.

Rveal - Rveal Media TV Tuner & Air Mouse Remote [Android, 4K, Quad-Core]

  • SkyStream One (Review): The Skystream One is quite similar to the RVEAL box. This streaming device also comes fully configured for TV and video on demand streaming without requiring an ongoing subscription. With the ability to stream 4k content and enough processing power to handle any games or apps you throw at it, the Skystream One has become a very popular device amongst users. And, it’s cheaper than the Rveal media player.

 

  • Minix Neo U1: This neat little box is easier on your wallet than the RVEAL, yet packs a serious punch. It supports 4k video playback and comes with a great keyboard remote. However, it is not pre-configured for live TV streaming. You will have to install additional apps to get the most out of this device. We recommend getting the BlazeKey to automate the installation of all the necessary apps. The greatest feature is in our opinion the external antenna which gives the Neo U1 great wireless coverage.

 Minix Neo U1

  • Matricom G-Box Q2 (Review): The G-Box is slightly cheaper than the Neo U1, yet provides very similar specs and performance. You don’t get the versatile keyboard remote that the Mimix comes with so you might want to invest in a wireless keyboard or mouse. We really love the sleek design of this box and the responsiveness of the interface. Similar to Neo U1, this box does not stream movies and live TV out of the box, the BlazeKey is the easiest way to get up and running.

 Matricom G Box

 

IPTV Streaming Box

MAG254In this category, there is really just one type of IPTV box that you should consider, the MAG 254 from Infomir. It is a set top box running Linux that supports connecting to streams in a variety of formats.

The MAG 254 most commonly connects to a stalker portal in order to receive an IPTV channel list and program information, this is then displayed on the screen as an Electronic Programme Guide, making it very easy to browse an on-screen list of channels and program information, such as a TV guide.

You are free to pick a streaming service that best fits your channel preferences and switching the provider is easy. Read our review of the best IPTV service providers.

IPTV streaming with a MAG 254 arguably provides the best picture quality and reliability, however, it might be too much of a hassle for many to set up. Also keep in mind, that you will need to subscribe to a stalker portal that provides the TV channel streams. However, that cost is a lot lower than your typical cable plan.

Video on Demand Streaming Box

These are the big names in the IPTV world, in many cases multi-billion dollar companies providing both hardware and a subscription-based streaming service. They are best for video on demand, allowing you to watch movies and TV shows whenever you want.

  • Amazon Fire TV: Amazon Fire TV is our top pick of the video on demand boxes. It is easy to set up, has a great interface and even supports voice commands. Be sure to sign up for Prime to get access to unlimited entertainment.
  • The other obvious choice here is Apple TV. They have an excellent library of movies and TV shows to choose from. And if you are already an owner of Apple products, it integrates nicely with your other devices.
  • Finally, another Android TV box that also doubles as a gaming console is the Nvidia Shield Pro. It is definitely not a cheap box but packs an incredible punch that allows you to play exclusive Android games on your TV. On top of that, you have access to all the popular on demand apps like Netflix and Hulu.

What to look out for

When considering to buy an IPTV box, decide on what kind of content you are mostly after. If you are looking for live television similar to what your existing cable subscription provides, your best bet is the RVEAL or the MAG 254. However, if your focus is only video on demand, you can’t go wrong with Amazon Fire TV or the Nvidia Shield Pro, which doubles as a gaming console.

Another thing to consider is your internet connection. Because all video content is streamed over the internet, you need a connection that can keep up with all this data. We recommend at least 10 Mbps to achieve a smooth streaming experience. Read our guide on how to optimize your WiFi for streaming if you are using a wireless connection to the internet.

Finally, keep in mind that there are numerous companies out there that advertise IPTV boxes. Do your research and remember: If something sounds too good (or cheap) to be true, it probably is!

Last update on 2017-11-23 at 15:24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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