One of the biggest challenges about Star Trek: Discovery for people in the U.S. is that it is exclusively available on the CBS All Access streaming service. With only around 1.5 million subscribers, it is likely that most fans will be signing up for the service for the first time. So the question is, how can you watch the show?
Are you already Discovery-ready?
The CBS app is available on Android and iOS, so you can certainly watch it on your phone or tablet screen easily, as well as on your computer through the CBS website. But Star Trek: Discovery is a show that is being promoted as ‘big’ and ‘cinematic,’ so you’ll probably want to watch it on your TV. “How do I do that?” you might ask. We’re here to tell you.
You may already have a device that is ready for CBS All Access. If you’re a gamer, the CBS All Access app is available on the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and Xbox 360. It’s also on any Android TV, including recent higher-end Sony smart TVs, which are CBSAA-ready. And many Vizio smart TVs from the last couple of years (E, M, or P series) have Google Chromecast built-in so they are also ready for you to use your smartphone or tablet to send the CBS All Access video stream to your TV.
If you have a dedicated streaming device such as a Google Chromecast, Roku (2015 model or later or Roku TVs), Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Android TV box (like the NVIDIA Shield), then you, too, are ready for CBS All Access.
Get streaming on the cheap
If you don’t have any of the above devices you can buy one, but each can be an investment. What if you just want to start streaming but don’t want to spend a lot? Fortunately, there are a number of affordable devices to get you going for around $40. All of these devices will not only be able to connect to CBS All Access, but a number of other subscription and free streaming services. We will break device down below along with its advantages and disadvantages.
Roku Streaming Stick: $40 – best overall entry-level streamer
Roku is the market leader in dedicated streaming devices. The Roku Streaming Stick is an entry-level streaming device that provides access to all the same streaming services as a regular Roku player, but in a small package. The main difference is that it doesn’t offer 4k streaming which probably won’t matter for those on a budget and CBS All Access doesn’t even offer 4K streaming anyway (at this time). The Roku stick plugs directly into an HDMI port and it includes a wireless remote (that doesn’t need line of sight).
The Roku Streaming Stick is available at Roku and many other retailers for $39.99.
If you’re an Amazon Prime Video user already, the Amazon Fire Stick with Alexa Voice Remote may be the way to go. Like the Roku, it attaches straight to an HDMI port and comes with a wireless remote. It doesn’t have as many streaming services available as Roku, but it certainly has all the big names like Netflix and Hulu, and offers better integration with the Amazon Prime streaming services. Another really great feature is that the remote can respond to voice commands thanks to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, which is a lot like Apple’s Siri or Google’s “Ok Google” feature.
The Amazon Fire Stick with Alexa Voice Remote is available at Amazon for $39.99.
Google Chromecast: $35 – best with smartphone
A Chromecast is a bit different than a typical streaming gadget. It hooks up to a HDMI port like the ‘sticks’ above, but the device doesn’t display a menu of streaming services to pick from, instead it works with your phone/tablet, which connects to the streaming service using the app you already have (CBS All Access, Netflix, YouTube, etc). You then ‘cast’ that stream (handoff the stream) to your TV via the Chromecast device. And since everything is done over Wi-Fi, the Chromecast can be totally out of sight. It works with most popular streaming apps and with both iOS and Android devices. While something is being cast to your TV you can still use your phone for other things, it simply acts as the remote control. This is the least expensive way to get CBS All Access, since it’s $5 cheaper than the two ‘stick’ options. This kind of setup isn’t for everyone though.
The Google Chromecast is available at Google for $35.
Lastly, if you’re still holding on to an old standard-definition TV, but you want to start streaming, then Roku has you covered. The Roku Express+ works similarly to the Roku Streaming Stick, but can also connect to older televisions using the typical red and white RCA connectors. Keep in mind that The Express is a low-end device that doesn’t come with a quad-core processor like the Roku and Amazon sticks, so you may experience lower performance, and it uses a standard infrared remote, so it requires line of sight. It does include an HDMI port in case you upgrade to an HDTV.
The Roku Express+ is available at Roku and other retailers for $39.99.
Roku TV 32-inch: $150 – Best starter smart TV
If you have been holding out on buying an HDTV, then maybe instead of buying a streaming device to hook up to your old TV you may want to finally make that step. Right now Amazon has Roku TVs on sale and the 32″ is an especially good bargain. The 32″ is only 720p (vs 1080p resolution) but at that size it is hard to tell the difference and it is certainly a step up from an older standard definition TV. The beauty of going this route is that all the Roku streaming functionality is already built in.
Of course there are many other budget level smart TVs, but before you buy just make sure they have Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV, or Chromecast functionality if you want to stream Star Trek: Discovery.
32″ Roku TV is available at Amazon for $149.99 with free shipping.
Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US. In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel on the same night. Netflix will launch Star Trek: Discovery on Monday, September 25 to countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.