The Rise of Internet TV Boxes & Streaming Media

The Beginning of Streaming Video

Streaming video has been made possible by the convergence of two key technologies. High speed, low latency internet connections, and wireless connectivity. But for those two things, streaming video as we know it today would simply not exist. It wouldn’t be possible or technically feasible.

Streaming video didn’t just magically appear one day out of the blue though. It was a slow, iterative process that actually got its start with Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing. This tech originated with the hacking community and was popularized by one of the cofounders of Facebook, who developed the first wildly popular file sharing solution.

From there, it wasn’t long until the first video sharing site was developed on the internet. It’s almost certain that you’ve heard of a little site called YouTube, which has grown to become the second most popular search engine on the internet (second only to Google itself). This further refined the technologies that made file sharing possible, and with the rapidly increasing bandwidth speeds, it was inevitable that companies would begin offering full length movies and TV shows on the internet, making them available for streaming.

The first generation of video streaming was slow, clunky, cumbersome, and annoying, with almost intolerable lags as the video buffered. Since those days though, compression routines have continued to improve and speeds have increased further still, giving rise to the hugely popular video streaming we know and love today.

Cable Companies Not Able to Adapt

Unfortunately for the cable companies, while all of this was happening, they opted not to change with the times. They opted not to invest in these new, promising technologies. That’s why companies like Apple, Netflix, and other tech-based companies are the rising stars of the new, cordless world of video, and the cable companies are struggling to even be relevant in the new world order. Their days are numbered and they know it. They refused to change with the times, but worse than that, they refused to even recognize that such change was necessary until it was far too late. Now, they’re fighting an uphill battle in a market they once owned. It’s a fight they simply cannot win from that position.

New Streaming Media Players Arise

If you’ve been looking for way to “cut the cord” but still enjoy an endless variety of great video options, you need three things: An Internet TV box, an Internet connection, and a subscription to one or more services.

In terms of Internet TV boxes, the most popular ones are the Apple TV, the Amazon Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast, Roku, and your favorite gaming console, if you’ve got one of those (the major brands all have some level of built-in streaming capability).

In terms of subscription services, there are a staggering array to choose from, with Netflix being the single biggest in the United States, although Apples iTunes store and Amazon’s video streaming service have both been gaining ground. If you mostly enjoy watching “regular” TV shows, then Hulu plus is a great option, but one of the very best is XBMC/KODI. Originally built specifically for the Xbox, it has grown, morphed and matured, and is now available on many of the top selling Internet TV boxes. Using this one system, you can tap into a virtually unlimited stream of hit TV shows and popular movies. The best part? It’s all free. Granted, the other services don’t cost much, but they still cost something, and free’s always better, right? Long live free!

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