|WHAT IS IPTV?... As might be guessed by the name, IPTV means Internet Protocol Television. Put more simply, it is television broadcast and accessed via the internet. Don't confuse it with watching streaming on-demand services like netflix or streaming video sites like youtube on your computer. IPTV is delivered directly to your television just like satellite or cable television.|
|WHAT IS NEEDED TO GET IPTV?... Just three things are needed: a television, a router with broadband internet connection and an IPTV set-top box or dongle style receiver. Connection is made very simply: an ethernet cable from the router to the IPTV receiver connection, and a HDMI cable from the IPTV receiver to your television (or by wireless in the case of Chromecast). Full set-up is a five minute job for a complete non techie.|
|WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES IPTV HAVE?... A limitless amount of space for new channels is perhaps the most obvious advantage of IPTV. It does not have to worry about a finite number of frequencies being available to broadcast like terrestrial, cable or satellite TV. This also allows for greater delivery of HD quality services and very popular features like 'catch-up TV' and watching favourite programs when you choose, rather than when a broadcaster chooses to air them.|
|WHAT IPTV CHANNELS ARE AVAILABLE IN MY COUNTRY?... The number of IPTV channels available in any country varies quite a bit. Many television companies or telecommunications giants have set up their own IPTV pay services which are often bundled with phone and internet packages. Those generally cost a subscription and come with an IPTV receiver tied to the provider. There are, however, hundreds of free IPTV channels accessible with a variety of IPTV boxes not bound to subscription services.|
|WHAT ARE THE BEST VALUE IPTV RECEIVERS?|
1) Roku TV Box
Roku TV, now in its 3rd generation, has won over 5 million sales in the USA and is proving a favourite in the growing European market. We have been hooked on it ever since the Roku 2, which included a headphone jack right there in your remote control to allow silent viewing when the family are sleeping. The Roku supports over 1,000 public, hidden and private channels. It sometimes depends on geographic location which ones you can access. Public channels are reviewed by Roku staff and appear in the Channel Store, allowing them to be easily added with a click of the remote if you want them. But there are also hundreds of private and hidden Roku channels out there, which require a special code or keyword to get added to your receiver. They can be free or pay channels and vary widely in content from kids' tv to adult entertainment.
Up to date lists of all public and private channels for Roku TV are maintained at sites like where access codes can be found. It's a simple process to then head over to the Roku website and add them to your account for download to your box. Here's a neat beginner's guide video to show how easy the Roku is to set up:
2) Chromecast TV Dongle
In July 2013, Google made a serious move in to the streaming television market with the launch of Chromecast. It's a tiny 2 inch dongle that can be popped in to any HD TV and have you streaming internet TV, or for that matter anything else you play on your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet to your TV within minutes. It's unobtrusiveness, ease of use, browsing capabilities and low cost have seen it become a serious rival to Roku and Apple TV. The Chromecast costs just a third of the price of a Roku 3. It comes with no remote, so is not a set top box in the sense that a Roku receiver is. Everything is controlled via the device connected to it. The number of apps for Chromecast are growing rapidly and already include Netflix, YouTube, GooglePlay, GoogleMusic, Hulu Plus, HBO Go and BBC iPlayer. You can surf the net with Chrome browser and stream it to your TV. For streaming media from mobile devices to watch on TV we have yet to find anything we like better. Set up is easy: simply plug the Chromecast dongle into an HDTV, connect it to a WiFi network and download apps or stream any media you like.
3) Apple TV Receiver
If you are a big user of Apple products, then your first dip in to the IPTV pond might well be worth making with the Apple TV box. It is a breeze to set up and includes the ability to stream iTunes movies and TV shows, Netflix, Vimeo, photos and more in HD to your TV. You can stream content from iPhones and iPads too, of course. Video, games, music, photos, are all easily streamed to your TV from any Apple device. So heavy Apple users will love it. But if you are not a big Apple products user, probably better to go for one of the alternative streaming devices, since the number of non-Apple related TV services available are greatly limited here.