Looking for a streaming box (Roku or similar)

We have an old HD TV and have historically had a laptop hooked up to it for streaming purposes (through the actual PC video port). The laptop in question is on its last legs, though, and not having a remote is inconvenient, so I’d like to replace it with a streaming box of some stripe. I’ve never had one of these, though, so don’t know what I’m doing really.

We’d like something that could access Prime, Neflix, Hulu, HBOMax, and if it could get stuff like Pluto that would be even better. A remote is an absolute must. The major possible hitch is that the HDMI ports on this older TV are shot - the component ports are fine and the PC (analog) video port is fine.

Any suggestions or recommendations? Many thanks!

I’ve only used my Roku stick, I got it 3 years ago for Christmas and it used to get daily use out of our main TV (which wasn’t “smart”) and it’s as simple as it gets. The OS/storage is on the stick, so it remembers settings like what apps you have installed and the logins even if you unplug it and move it to another TV. Just a big flash stick that ends in an HDMI port. Easy as pie.

I recently got the latest google offering called “Chromecast with Google TV” and I think it’s really good. Unlike previous versions of the chromecast, this one has a remote and UI on the tv screen (although it does still work by interacting with your phone/tablet if you want). Both aspects are great. My parents recently bought the latest Apple TV box, and I think the remote and UI on the chromecast is far more usable (despite being less than half the price here in AUS).

See, this is totally what we’d get, but the HDMI ports on this TV are toast.

This is not an option I was even aware of, I’ll check it out. Thanks!

I think everything suggested here will use HDMI. You’ll need to get a converter to use with your component or analog video ports.

Just to follow on from my previous post, it seems that HDMI to component converters are a thing, but you’ll need to be careful about HDCP and other video protections that streaming boxes might put on the signal.

This is an aussie site, but see here:

They mention it wont work with AppleTV, but that they have tested it on chromecast. I am not sure if there’s a better way.

I’d trust independently powered devices run through a converter over any of the basic sticks, which generally draw power over HDMI I’m not sure you can get via component. The Roku boxes are excellent and have all the networks you mentioned. As far as I know, following the conclusion of their feuds with HBO and Peacock, Roku has every major network, which is pretty awesome.

If you have an old TV maybe it’s time to upgrade to a new, smart TV that may not need a streaming device? Just make sure the smart TV works with the streaming networks you are interested in.

I recommend TCL - they are good looking TVs that are inexpensive and use the Roku OS.

This is supposed to be a good time to buy a TV too, with the Superbowl coming up.

Just buy the cheapest TCL Roku TV you can find, something on the range of $200 to $250. Probably barely more than buying a separate Roku + some kind of video converter, and will be better too. You still want to get a 4k HDR one, even if it’s only $250 dollars, because that means whatever Roku hardware they put in there had to have a more modern chip and the whole interface will run better.

Yeah, the Chromecast option will also need HDMI, as will basically any alternative (though HDCP issues aside you could in principle run stuff through an HDMI/DVI converter). It really sounds like you need a new TV. On the plus side, the apps on the reputable brands are pretty good these days, so you probably won’t need a separate streaming box/stick if you do.

Roku used to make streaming boxes with composite cables. Here’s one on Amazon, price seems a bit high but at least it’s available. Might check other sources, ebay, etc.


Composite’s going to be limited to SD though, and at those prices you really are better off getting a new TV anyway.

Yeah, my first thought was: how big is the current TV?

Because in the US, you can pick up a 43" 4k TV w integrated Roku for $260 bucks.

Do we have a “recommend a cheap TV” thread?

These things go on sale all the time. I doubt we need a topic for it. TVs are pretty darn cheap these days if you don’t mind low-end, which is still superior to TVs from a few years ago.

We got a 65" 4K Smart TV for a bit under $500 this past Christmas.

I can vouch for those inexpensive 4K TCL TV’s being nice. We have a 46 inch in the living room we got for $200-250 to replace an older “nicer” TV. Despite this TV costing 1/3 of the price of a 6 year old set, it’s far nicer in most ways. All the built in Roku stuff works great for streaming from almost everything.

My one not-yet-figured out bit is how to cast a chrome tab to it [or if that’s even possible.]

Not sure about a chrome tab specifically, but there should be a miracast screen mirroring option.

THanks for the advice folks but I really don’t want to get a new TV until we move again if I can avoid it. I’d probably scrap the whole project for now if that was the only option, but I’d really like to set things up so my wife can stream HBOMax while feeding the baby boy.

I’m wondering if a Roku or Fire stick in conjunction with this would work:


From what I can tell from the reviews and Q&A it should be a viable and inexpensive solution. If so, is there a clear winner between a Roku stick and a Fire stick?