Instead of using pay-TV cable or satellite services, many people use a digital media player1 (DMP), also known as an “over-the-top” (OTT) device, to stream content to their TV sets from the many online streaming services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime). DMPs provide an inexpensive, easy to use, quickly installed method to view content on your television. 107 million households in the United States had a DMP in 2018, a 39 percent increase from 2017.
An ENERGY STAR certified digital media player (DMP) is 45 percent more efficient. DMPs are the most efficient device to stream content to your TV:
- A traditional cable/satellite box uses about four times as much energy as a DMP.
- A computer uses 11 times more energy than a DMP.
A game console uses 15 times more energy than a DMP.
Stream Smart with ENERGY STAR
TV watching is no longer done only on TV sets as more and more people use computers and tablets to view streamed TV content. But regardless of how you get your streamed TV content, ENERGY STAR certified products that enable streaming -- modems, routers, set top boxes, digital media players, tablets, laptops, computers, TVs, and smart TVs -- use 25 percent less energy on average.
- Use a tablet. When streaming content on the small screen, use a tablet if available. A laptop uses four times the energy of tablet and a desktop computer uses 15 times the energy of a tablet.
- Smart TVs are a smart choice. When streaming content on the big screen, a smart TV, a TV with internal components to stream content, uses the least amount of energy compared to other streaming devices and is the “smart” choice for energy efficiency.
- Use game consoles for gaming. If you can, use your game console for gaming only and leave the streaming to other devices. A game console uses 15 times more energy than a digital media player (e.g., Roku, Apple TV) and four times more energy than traditional cable/satellite STB.
1 Also known as “over the top (OTT) streaming devices” or “media streamers” or “streaming media players”
2 CTA, 20th Annual CE Ownership and Market Potential Study, May 2018.
Most DMPs are similar in that they deliver streaming content through their video apps. However, there are some key features to look for depending on what your needs are. Here’s what to look for when shopping for a DMP:
Some devices provide 4K content, making them the perfect complement to your 4K TV. If you’re watching content on a 4K TV, make sure the streaming device you purchase can match the 4K quality, or you’ll see your TV’s picture quality decrease. Also, make sure you have a good internet connection; DMPs that can play 4K content require faster Internet speeds to deliver you the content. Some DMPs, with less powerful chipsets/software, have compromised picture quality or buggy performance.
Some devices add music, photo viewing, and even gaming. Consider what else besides TV you could be using these devices for.
There are a number of apps to choose from with which you can stream your content. Some of the most popular ones are Netflix, iTunes, HBO Go, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu. However, not all DMPs offer the same apps. If there’s an app you’re particularly fond of, check to make sure it’s supported on the device you’re interested in.
DMPs have a wide price range. They can be as cheap as $35 or as expensive as $200. The higher end models usually come with additional features such as better hardware specifications, online gaming, and 4K streaming capabilities. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide which features you want and what device fits your budget.