As Roku and YouTube TV continue their battle behind the scenes over money, those of us downstream are left figuring out what we'll do should the two sides not reach an agreement. The fallout over Roku potentially losing access to YouTube TV (or, depending on your point of view, YouTube TV no longer being allowed on Roku) is no small matter. Roku is the biggest streaming platform in the United States. And YouTube TV has more than 3 million U.S. subscribers, at last count.
The good news is that should the worst happen, you've got options. Quite a few of them, in fact. You either can use a streaming service other than YouTube TV, or you can use hardware other than Roku.
And contrary to what some may believe, both of those options also extend to Roku TV. That's good, because there are a lot of Roku TVs out there, thanks to a near-perfect marriage of features and affordability. A 65-inch TCL 6-Series — which uses Roku as its user interface — can be had for less than $1,000. Lesser models are even more affordable.
Manufacturer notwithstanding, a Roku TV is a television first, and Roku platform second. Just like any other TV, it's got a coax antenna connection for free, over-the-air television, as well HDMI ports for other devices. (The real differences in price and model have to do with the display panel itself, as well as other bells and whistles.)
Those HDMI ports can be used for any other device that you can plug into any other television. That could be gaming consoles like PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Or it could be other streaming platforms, such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV, or Android TV. (If you're really crazy, you can even plug another Roku device into your Roku TV. But only if you're able to handle a few levels of inception and are willing to go quite mad.)
Roku TV even has a setting that allows the TV to boot up to a specific input, so that as soon as you hit the power button it'll go right to that Apple TV you've plugged in, so that you don't have to use the Roku interface.
It's a few extra steps, for sure, and adds a bit of complexity to the Roku TV experience — and there's a good chance you bought this thing in the first place because it was relatively affordable, and very easy to use.
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