People now have more options than ever to ditch their cable subscriptions in favor of cord-cutting by watching their favorite movies and episodes on-demand via streaming services like Disney Plus, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu and others. However, if you want to access a more vast library of content, you’ll need a streaming device for your living room!
Even if your TV has “smart” features, they likely won’t live up to the standards set by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku’s respective streaming media players. Though you can’t go wrong with any of them, you should research which streaming device can make the most of your TV’s capabilities in order to maximize your enjoyment of your favorite apps.
Whether you’re looking for a streaming stick, dongle, or specialized media player, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll discuss why we think different streaming gadgets are the greatest options currently on the market.
1. Apple TV 4k: Best Overall Streaming Device
Early in 2021/22, Apple released a long-overdue update to the Apple TV 4K. Some Apple TV owners may appreciate the new, speedier processor, but the real star of the show is the revamped Siri Remote. A TV power button and a jog wheel reminiscent of an iPod’s have been added to the new remote, which heighten the streaming experience.
Apple has even implemented a way to locate the updated remote using Siri. Having something to help you find it if it disappears inside the couch cushions is a good idea. You can also stream Apple’s Fitness Plus exercises, play any game available in the App Store or Apple Arcade, or stream content from any major streaming service like SBS on Demand in USA.
The Apple TV 4K’s high price tag is the single major drawback. Pricing begins at $179 for 32GB of storage and rises to $199 for 64GB, making it the priciest streaming gadget we’ve included in this list. The tvOS developed by Apple is even easier to use than the company’s existing mobile operating systems. There is nothing on the home screen, just icons for apps.
2. Google Chromecast: Best Budget Streaming Device
In late 2020, Google released a new version of its Chromecast streaming gadget, putting it in direct competition with established players like Amazon and Roku. Most noticeably different from prior Chromecast models is the inclusion of an actual remote control.
With the addition of a few buttons, everyone in your house may enjoy their favorite shows without having to “cast” them from a mobile device. The new Chromecast employs the Google TV interface in order to work with the updated remote.
It’s one of the cheaper streaming gadgets out there at just $49.99. A little disc-shaped item is attached, and this plugs into your TV’s HDMI connector. Enjoy 4K video with HDR support and access to Google’s expanding app catalog, which includes virtually every streaming provider.
3. Roku Ultra: Best Device for Audio Enthusiasts
The Roku Ultra is the company’s top-tier streaming device, with a remote finder and the option to listen to content using the remote’s 3.5mm headphone jack without disturbing your living room companion. Even earbuds are included in the package. And if you want to get really sophisticated, you can utilize the Roku app on your phone to stream to your headphones.
It can play back 4K content, has access to the Roku ecosystem, and supports both Dolby Vision and Atmos for enhanced audio fidelity. All of Roku’s 4K streaming devices are now AirPlay 2 and HomeKit compatible, allowing Apple users to stream content directly to the box from their iOS smartphones and even use Siri to manage the TV.
4. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4k: Best for Smart Home Integration
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, which connects to your TV through the HDMI connector, resembles a large USB flash drive. Using the remote’s built-in connection to Alexa, you can issue commands to your smart home devices (such as shutting off the lights to watch a movie) or pose general questions like you’d do with Siri.
The audiophiles among you will be pleased to know that it supports Dolby Atmos. The Fire TV also gives you access to a library of streaming apps and services that work across all major platforms and even include a few games. Best part of all: apps load almost instantly on the Fire TV Stick 4k, and the UI is responsive and easy to use.
5. Nvidia Shield: Best Streaming Device for External Media
The Nvidia Shield TV 2019 is not only among the best streaming gadgets, but also boasts a design that stands out among its competitors (it resembles a mobile power charger). This YouTube spout generates UHD 4K content instantly and supports hundreds of applications, so you can watch just about anything you want.
The compact size makes it simple to tuck away under or behind the hefty TV stand. This Shield TV is controlled via remote, rather than a game controller. This remote is fantastic since it glows when you pick it up in the dark, making it easy to identify it and press the appropriate buttons even in the dark.
There is a wide selection of streaming devices on the market, so picking the correct one comes down to personal preference, cost, and desired functionality. However, the above recommendations are a good starting point. We’ve added a tagline associated with each streaming stick to define their usefulness based on different use-cases.