What’s the best way to get online content onto your TV? For a long time, your only option was hooking up your PC via an HDMI cable.

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HDMI cables have long been the most common method for streaming content, but Smart TVs are on the rise—over 40 million households in the United States now have a smart TV. By connecting to the internet through Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection, smart TVs give you the ability to access streaming media content, entertainment apps like Spotify and Pandora, and even browse the internet. While your internet speed does need to be fairly fast to avoid frustrating lag, the benefits may outweigh the negatives.

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Smart TVs were made specifically to help you easily watch streaming content.  With the push of a button, smart TVs give you access to a variety of popular streaming sites—like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more. While connecting your laptop or computer to your TV via an HDMI cable is a relatively simple process, it can’t compare to the ease of pushing a button to access all the content a smart TV gives you access to. HDMI cables require you to plug in your device every single time you want to watch something. Some days you just want to stay on the couch!

Con: Smart TVs Are More Expensive

Buying an HDMI cable is definitely the most cost-effective method for watching streamed media content: HDMI cables cost between $5 and $20, while smart TVs can cost as much as $700. If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider sticking with an HDMI cable.

However, if you’re in need of a new TV, it might make sense to take the plunge and get a smart TV and reap the additional benefits. Consider this: most smart TVs are similar in price to non-smart TVs of similar size—but with increased functionality that makes the additional cost more than worth it.

Let’s not forget the less expensive alternative of buying a streaming stick or box like Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV.  These are substantially less expensive that a smart TV and give you most of the same options for less than $100.

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~ Alice Williams