Long story short: Looking for advice and recommendations for app-based (Android?) streaming device for Internet TV viewing.
Longer version: Our rural location was late to get broadband so I didn’t have much networking experience when we got plunged into the world of SVOD. I also have never had a smart phone so no experience in that direction either. My computers run Windows and I have an old Android tablet I play with from time to time. I tried the first version of Chromecast but it didn’t work well for us and I got rid of it.
I looked at some popular devices like Apple TV, Kodi, Plex, but have never been able to see enough value in them. They mainly seemed focused on organising existing libraries but that has never been an issue for us. We just want to be able to stream live content and VOD from the Internet to a single TV in the lounge.
So I went with something familiar and set up an old PC running Win 7 as my streaming computer. I also have other machines with Win 7, 8.1 and 10, so am familiar with those OS versions. For various reasons, I prefer Win 7 for streaming.
The quality of our RBI connection used to be somewhat unreliable, though it seems much better now. It probably isn’t suitable for UHD but that isn’t an issue for us. Our viewing preferences are all over the world, particularly UK and Europe, also some Aussie FTA and USA. We use geo-unblocking. We are not particularly interested in the main US sites like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Because of our viewing tastes, there don’t seem to be apps for most of the sites we would be interested in, except perhaps the BBC. That is also a reason I decided a PC with browser would be more useful to us. Nothing beats it for flexibility.
I have devoted a lot of effort to optimising the PC solution. I use URL shortcuts for our favourite sites and AutoHotKey scripts for menus. In spite of this, it is still often awkward to navigate to different sites. Sometimes it is necessary to mouse back and forth on the screen and different sites and media players often require different inputs. Even with scripts it can take several keystrokes to find the desired content, log in, start playback, and go full screen. I can work with this but others in the household find it too much trouble.
So… is there a better solution to this? If there any device that makes it possible to click on a wide range of sites, scroll through channels, and start playback just like pressing a channel button on the TV remote? Is it possible to create my own apps for obscure sites to do this kind of thing? Is there a device I am unaware of that can already do all of this? Maybe I should add that age is making it harder for me to muster the concentration and energy needed for complex programming tasks, so the simpler the better.
We have a Sony Bravia pre-Android smart TV. The apps on it are painfully useless. I don’t know why they even bother. It seems counter-productive to me. But if the apps actually pointed to worthwhile sites they would be brilliant. Just a screen full of point and click tiles. That is what we want.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of sites we watch: SBS, ABC iView, PBS, Classical TV, many YouTube channels, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Dutch NPO channels, Curiosity, French and German Arte, DW, etc.