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A set-top box or media center often has many features in common with a smart TV. These devices generally have internet connections, can stream services such as Netflix , Hulu, and Pandora, and can give your TV tons of apps.

However, these devices are sold separately from your TV and are attached to it, like a DVR or DVD player or game console. A set-top box acts as another input into your TV. This can add an extra layer of complexity to your tangle of wires but it might be worth the added features.

Now, why would you want an extra device when you could have it built into your TV?

  • It’s a much more economical option. Oftentimes TVs labeled as “smart” are priced at a premium because of that. Buying a non-smart (or dumb) TV and then adding one of these set-top boxes could dramatically reduce the price of your entertainment system. This is because most of these set-top boxes cost around $100, which is far less than the premium you’d pay for buying a smart TV versus a dumb one.

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