With a streaming device, you can instantly transform your regular TV into a smart TV. All you have to do is plug one of these little devices into the back of your TV, and you’ll be able to watch thousands of movies and TV shows on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and more. But, with so many streaming media players on the market today, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Here is our list of the best streaming devices, from budget streaming sticks to 4K streaming devices, and everything in between.
Finding the right streaming device can be frustrating. To make it easy for you, we have created a quiz that will help you find the perfect streaming device for you and your TV. Give it a try by clicking the button below:
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Roku Express+: Best Streaming Device for Older TVs
If you have an older TV, the Roku Express+ might be the only streaming device that will work for you. Unlike other streaming devices, which usually connect to your TV with an HDMI cable, this streaming device comes with composite cables that can be found on almost every older TV.
This streaming box comes with red, white, and yellow cables that plug into the audio and video ports of your TV. And, if you ever upgrade your TV, you can still connect this streaming device with an HDMI cable as well.
The Roku Express+ works with the Google Assistant and Alexa, so you can control your TV with voice commands. However, it only streams HD video, so this is not a good choice if you want to watch 4K movies. And, since Roku stopped making this model a while ago, it is quite expansive if you can find it at all.
A streaming stick is small enough to hide behind TV, and Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick Lite is the cheapest option on the market today. This budget streaming stick will give you access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes for under $30.
Amazon’s newest streaming device is a stripped-down version of the company’s previous model. While Amazon upgraded the processing power and added Dolby Atmos sound to its new streaming stick, it also removed the TV controls from the remote. So, you’ll have to use another remote to turn your TV on and control the volume of your TV, soundbar, or receiver.
The Fire TV Stick Lite remote does feature a voice control button, so you can ask Alexa to search for movies and launch apps. However, this streaming stick has a maximum resolution of 1080p, so you can’t use it to stream 4K content.
If you have a 4K TV, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is one of the best streaming devices you can get. This model has a long-range wireless receiver, so you won’t have to point your remote directly at the streaming stick.
The remote that comes with the Roku Streaming Stick+ has volume and power buttons, so you won’t need to use another remote to control your TV. There’s even a voice button on the remote that lets you search for content by title, actor, director, genre, and more.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ works with Alexa and the Google Assistant. It supports 4K and HDR (high dynamic range), so you will get the best picture quality if you have an Ultra HD TV. This Roku model also supports private listening with the Roku app, so you won’t disturb your family when watching TV at night.
Chromecast With Google TV: Best Streaming Device for Google Users
Google made some major upgrades to the Chromecast in 2020. Unlike previous models, the new Chromecast comes with Google TV, which gives you access to all the same apps and channels that other streaming devices come with, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
For the first time, Google’s new Chromecast also has a remote with volume and power controls and an input button, so you won’t need another remote to start streaming. The remote even has a Google Assistant button that you can use to search for content with voice commands.
The Google TV home screen features recommended movies and TV shows based on what you’ve watched. Plus, you can create watchlists that you can access from the Google TV app on your Android device. This streaming device supports 4K streaming, Dolby Vision HDR, and Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound.
Roku recently upgraded its premium 4K streaming box to improve the WiFi capabilities and make it even faster. That means you can use the new Roku Ultra in any room in your home, and you won’t experience as much buffering as before.
Unlike cheaper streaming sticks, the 2020 Roku Ultra comes with an Ethernet port, so you can connect it directly to your WiFi router to get the best picture quality possible. It is also the first standalone streaming device from Roku to feature Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos.
The Roku Ultra’s remote control also comes with a headphone jack, so you can watch your shows without disturbing your family. Plus, there’s a lost remote finder on the streaming box, which makes your remote beep, so you can find it easier.
Amazon Fire TV Cube: Best Hands-Free Streaming Device
The Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s best streaming device so far. This streaming box comes with Alexa built-in, so you don’t have to touch your remote to control your TV. Plus, you can use this streaming box as a smart speaker to control your other smart home devices as well.
With the Fire TV Cube, all you have to do is say, “Alexa, play It’s a Wonderful Life,” and your TV will start playing the movie. It comes with eight microphones that can hear your voice commands no matter where you are in the room. There’s even support for Bluetooth 5.0, so you can easily connect your headphones, speakers, and game controllers to this streaming device.
Plus, the Fire TV Cube comes with a powerful hexa-core processor, which means your shows and movies will load faster. The Fire TV Cube supports 4K streaming, HDR, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. It even supports 7.1 surround sound, which makes it great for home theaters.
Apple TV 4K 2021: Best Streaming Device for Apple Users
If you have an iPhone or other Apple devices, you should strongly consider getting the new Apple TV. This streaming device lets you “mirror” your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer’s screen to your TV wirelessly. And you can use the Siri-enabled remote to control your TV and HomeKit devices.
Apple added a lot of features to its newest streaming device, but the biggest improvement might be with the remote. The new Siri remote features buttons instead of a trackpad, which makes it much easier to navigate. Plus, the new remote finally comes with a power button, so you can use it to turn your TV off and on.
The Apple TV 4K is powered by an A12 Fusion chip, which allows it to now play HDR content at 60 frames per second. This will give you smoother motion, especially when watching action scenes or sports. With a Gigabit Ethernet port and support for Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and 7.1 surround sound, the Apple TV 4K is one of the best streaming devices for any home theater.
Nvidia Shield TV Pro: Best Streaming Device for Gamers
Unlike other streaming devices, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is really designed for gamers. It comes with a powerful eight-core processor, a 256-core GPU, 16 GB of storage, and 3 GB of RAM. All this hardware allows you to play games right from your streaming device.
The Nvidia Shield Pro lets you play hundreds of games right from your PC or streaming device using GeForce Now, Nvidia’s cloud-based game streaming service. However, you will need to pay a monthly fee of $7.99 to use the service.
While it does not come with a game controller, the Nvidia Shield Pro is compatible with any Bluetooth game controller, including the ones you can buy for an Xbox or PlayStation. Since cloud-based gaming requires you to have a fast internet connection, the Nvidia Shield Pro has an Ethernet port on the back, so you can get the fastest speeds.
With its advanced hardware, the Nvidia Shield Pro can use artificial intelligence to enhance and upscale content to 4K in real-time. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos, and 7.1 surround sound. Plus, it comes with a sleek, backlit remote with the Google Assistant built-in, so you can use it to control your smart home devices.