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Smart TV and remoteThe holidays are a time to celebrate and take a break from work. For some this means visiting family and friends, for others it means getting comfortable on the lounge and binge watching their favourite TV shows.

No matter which streaming service you subscribe to, there are some things you should be aware of before you watch multiple seasons of your favourite shows over the holidays.

Data usage

Depending on the picture quality, streaming services are likely to take a big chunk out of your monthly download limit. Streaming in high definition (HD) can use up to 3GB of data per hour. Standard definition (SD) streaming will use less data, however, the picture quality will not be as good as HD content. Check with your chosen streaming service to see how much data you will use streaming content in HD and SD.

In 2014 the average Australian watched about 20 hours of streamed video content per month. That's about 14-26GB per month, per user, for standard definition. But if you sign up for a streaming service you'll probably use more. If there are multiple users in your household who are streaming content over the holidays, then your allowance could get used up very quickly.

It's important to keep track of your data usage using the spend management tools provided by your internet service provider (ISP). Usually you can check your usage by logging into your account on your ISP's website. Be aware of what happens when you exceed your limit. Your ISP may charge you for excess data, or slow down your internet speed, which will make it difficult to stream content.

Our information on what can affect the quality of broadband may be helpful if you're experiencing slow speeds while streaming online video.

How to stream?

If you have a range of devices in your household, then you probably have a few options for streaming content. The way you stream can also depend on which services you subscribe to. If you are streaming on your smartphone, ensure you are connected to your home Wi-Fi so you don't exceed your mobile data limit and incur excess data charges.

Computer

You can stream content using your laptop or desktop. You might also be able to plug your computer into your TV via an HDMI port (some Apple devices require a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter).

Smart TV

Most TVs on the market today can connect to the internet and have access to a range of apps for accessing content. Go into your TV settings and set up an internet connection, select or download the app and you're right to go. You will probably find the picture quality best, however, if you connect using an Ethernet cable rather than the home Wi-Fi.

Dedicated streaming device

These are almost a must have for streaming content. They are usually low profile, plug into an HDMI port on your TV and require a Wi-Fi or fixed connection. Two options to consider are Google's Chromecast or Apple TV. Chromecast is inexpensive, works with a range of set ups and gives you access to Stan, Presto, Netflix and Quickflix. Apple TV gives access to Stan and Netflix and would suit those who use other Apple products. Other streaming device options include gaming consoles - Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4.

Which streaming service?

The four main streaming services (Netflix, Stan, Presto and Quickflix) offer slightly different TV and movie catalogues and are comparably priced. Payment is monthly (around $10-$15 per month) and most are free for the first month. It's easy to try them out and find the one that suits your viewing tastes, and lets you stream via your preferred device.

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