How Do TV Sticks Work?

TV sticks allow you to stream all of your favorite media straight to your television. You can watch Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and others right on your regular television. And you don’t need to invest in an expensive smart television.

TVSurf, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast other television sticks work the same way. But these different devices do have additional features that make them unique. 

Today I’m going to answer the question of how do TV sticks work and why most people choose a TV stick over a smart TV.

TV Sticks: How Do They Work?

You will have to plug your television stick into an HDMI port in your television. If you do not have an HDMI port, you will not be able to use one of these devices. There is also an electrical plug that you will have to plug into the wall to power your device. 

Once plugged in, you can start your television and will have to change the input to the appropriate one where your TV stick is located.

There will be some sort of installation process for most television sticks, and this will include choosing your language and basic setup.

Every TV stick must connect to your home’s Wi-Fi, and this will be taken care of in the setup process.

There are apps provided with every TV stick except for Chromecast, which will mirror your smart phone to your television.

How Do Streaming TV Sticks Work?

But if you want to dig deeper into your streaming stick, you’ll find that it is more or less like one of your smart phones. A lot of these TV sticks run off of Android, or some variation of Android that has been customized.

What this operating system allows you to do is download apps to your TV stick and stream your favorite television shows, movies and music.

The reason that a lot of these companies choose Android is because developers won’t have to make dozens of different apps for every television stack. If every device had its own operating system, you probably wouldn’t be able to download Netflix or any of the apps that you want for streaming.

Once you are finished with the setup process and have your stick up and ready for use, you’ll have to download apps. A lot of apps are normally installed by default, but it does depend on which device you have.

A few the most popular apps are:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Amazon
  • YouTube
  • Browser

Why would you need a browser?

Browsers usually aren’t that useful unless you have to stream from a non-traditional platform. There are a few streaming sites that don’t have their own apps, so browsers are only option to view them. For example, you can even view this article on if you open the URL in your stick’s browser.

You could also use your browser for viewing different websites if you want.

Over time, you’ll find that your TV stick will update itself. These are basic operating system updates, and apps will also update as new updates are released.

TV sticks allow you to download your favorite apps, including HBO, music streaming apps, and games.

Once you download all your favorite apps, you can simply open them as you would on your smartphone and enter your login information. You’ll now be able to use your TV stick to watch all of your favorite television shows and movies.

You can even set timers so that if you fall asleep, the TV will shut off automatically.

Why Choose a TV Stick Over a Smart TV?

For a long time, I was always against getting a smart television until one was on sale. When I purchased it, I realized why people don’t use smart televisions and use TV sticks instead. They are very slow.

I also found that my smart television didn’t update often, and a lot of the apps are very buggy. Well, this may not be the case for higher-priced smart TV’s, but mine was abysmally slow.

A few of the reasons why you may want a TV stick versus smart TV include:

  • Cost: A TV stick costs a fraction of what smart television costs. Most people are trying to update their non-smart television to allow for streaming, and this is the most economical way.
  • Portability: If you want to transport your television, is a lot harder than unplugging a small TV stick and plugging it into a different television.
  • Performance: App loading speeds are generally faster, allowing you to open apps more quickly.
  • Compatibility: Television sticks will work with any television, even older TVs from 2012, so long as there’s a USB port to plug the device into. If there’s no port, you will need to upgrade your television.

But the one benefit of a smart television is that they are platform neutral. What do I mean by this? There was a time when television sticks catered to their own content. Amazon’s firestick is a prime example. The Amazon Fire Stick would not allow you to download the YouTube app or other streaming apps that you may have wanted to use.

All the blame can’t be put on Amazon for this problem. Developers and some of the apps’ owners are to blame. Thankfully, YouTube and other apps are starting to become more device-friendly and able to be downloaded on most television sticks.

If you want to bridge the gap between your old television and new technology, a television stick is your ideal choice.

You’ll also find that there are parental controls in place that allow you to stop children from buying items on apps or accessing apps that they shouldn’t be.

“Dumb TVs” still have a lot of life left in them and offer a great picture. But without the ability to stream, you will be living in the past. TV sticks bridge this gap and allow you to enjoy the best streaming television on your big screen rather than staring down at your smartphone.

TVSurf is my top choice for a TV stick based on cost, performance and ease of use.