The Internet is filled with questions about these three terms. Some of them read: “what is a smart TV?” or “is Roku a Chromecast?” or “are Roku and Chromecast the same?” 

It is time to end the confusion once and for all and explain the difference between a smart TV, Roku, and Chromecast.  And it is quite substantial.

Without further ado, let us begin the explanation. 

What is a smart TV?

A smart TV is simply a TV that is connected to the internet. You can either buy a modern TV set with a built-in intelligent operating system, or you can transform your old TV into a smart. How? You just have to connect it to a dedicated device like Roku or Chromecast (more on that later).

Smart TV can be controlled with a remote control, mobile device, tablet, or voice navigation. It has an interface optimized for viewing on a big screen, where you can not only watch online video content, but also browse the web, play games, check social media, cast a presentation, make voice and video calls, and many more.

Why is it called “smart”? 

Not only because a smart TV lets you move around the digital world on a big screen, but mainly because it can learn your content preferences. 

How? It scans your viewing history and makes predictions about what you might want to watch next based on this data. Recommendation engines use algorithms to determine which videos are most likely to be relevant for you or any other viewer in the household. It means that each person can have a user account with their own personalized homepage. These algorithms take into account factors like viewing history, genre preference, the recency of viewing activity, and a few other factors. 

Why recommendation engine is important? 

In 2020, one of the British cinema companies conducted a study finding that on average, British people spend 187 hours per year looking for something to watch on Netflix. Let’s admit, we all experienced the struggle of choosing the perfect video for the evening, right? 

The smart TV recommendation engine solves this issue, so this is yet another example of how technology assists people in making efficient decisions, saving them a lot of time.  

Without the smart TV recommendation engine, you would spend 935 hours in total deciding what to watch over the course of five years. That is almost 16 days. Isn’t that the most compelling reason to opt for a smart TV? You might say “sure, but these new TV sets are quite expensive, and my TV from five years ago still works fine.”  

In light of that, let us jump into the explanation of Roku (and later Chromecast) since these devices can easily turn your old-schoolish, ordinary TV into a smart one. At a low cost. Which means no more excuses. 

Let’s start with Roku. 

A few words about Roku  

In short, Roku is a streaming device that, when plugged into the back of your TV, makes your TV smart. 

With over 60 million active accounts, Roku has evolved over the years and now offers streaming devices as well as its own smart TV and Roku streaming channel. 

What can you expect from a Roku streaming device? 

Players include a Roku remote – a simple, easy-to-use tool for navigating Roku’s on-screen menus and controlling the playback of streaming media. It is also possible to control the Roku system from your smartphone (the app has extra features and easier search capabilities with an on-screen keyboard).

One of the coolest things about Roku is that its remote control has an in-built headphone jack on the side for private listening. You do not have to give up watching your favorite TV show on the big screen just because someone is sleeping, reading, or studying nearby. 

The device also comes with the Roku streaming channel, where you can find tons of free movies and series. Content can be accessed via subscription-based platforms, cable, or rent-or-buy channels (more on the top 10 Roku Channels here). Because Roku’s interface resembles traditional cable TV, it is particularly convenient for less tech-savvy or elderly users. So… we all know what you are going to buy your grandmother for Christmas this year. 

Now that smart TVs and Roku have been explained, let’s focus on Chromecast. 

What is Google Chromecast? 

Chromecast is, just like Roku, a media streaming adapter that plugs into a TV’s HDMI port. The older version of Chromecast (3.0) offered only a screen mirroring software that casts directly from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. The most recent version of Chromecast (4.0) comes also with the Google TV app, which makes it more similar to Roku. It means that in addition to the same casting option as before, there is new, interactive TV software. 

No need to charge your phone 

It is important to note that Chromecast is an independent Android device that relies on its own connection to stream content, while your phone, tablet, or laptop is used as an input device only. You won’t run out of phone battery after streaming video content for three or more hours. 

With Chromecast’s Googe TV app, you can access content from all your streaming services. You can browse videos by type, add them to your watch list, and click the like button next to them. These actions let the algorithm learn your preferences.    

Chromecast comes with an aesthetically pleasing remote control and a microphone for Google Assistant voice control. Upon its release in July 2013, the device became one of the biggest sellers in the United States. According to Google, approximately 5 billion casts are made per month using Chromecast. 

Final words 

Smart TVs, as well as devices that turn old TVs into smart TVs are revolutionizing the entertainment industry. With full control over the content, a recommendation engine, and a clear user interface, linear TVs seem passé.  

It is definitely worthwhile to “invest” in a smart TV, Roku, or Chromecast.
Because who would want to spend 187 hours a year choosing which movie to watch?