A good streaming device is essential in this modern world. At least if you don’t want to come off like a lazy hobo. I mean, huddling around your old laptop, squinting at the picture is no way to make the “chill” in “Netflix and chill” happen. So… yeah, you need to find the best streaming devices for you.
Of course, there are a myriad of options out there, and you have to decide which one is right for you. Thankfully, we’re here to help you out. So, just sit back, read through this helpful guide, which goes over a plethora of options for every need and every budget, and then pick out which streaming device is right for you.
Roku is going to figure heavily in this guide, and this is their least expensive option. It’s pretty basic, with no frills like 4k or dual-band WiFi, but if you just want something simple that can stream Netflix for you, this isn’t a bad choice at all. Plus, you do get the Roku interface, which is considered the best in the business. And it’s, you know, cheap.
If casting is your thing (think Chromecast) and you don’t care at all about frills or support and just need a cheap device to plug into your TV, then this would work for you. The cons are that, well, you don’t get any frills or support. It’s just a dongle that lets you cast from your phone or computer or whatever. The pros? It’s simple, so there shouldn’t be any setup headaches, and it’s also the cheapest option available.
We get a little more complicated with the Roku Streaming Stick, which is basically a stick about the size of a USB drive that you plug into your TV. It offers a little more WiFi support than the Roku Express, it has a remote that you don’t have to point right at the thing to work, and it’s plug and play design makes it relatively unobtrusive. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s still very worth it.
Amazon’s version of the Roku stick, the Fire Stick doesn’t have Roku’s interface (or the thousands of channels offered by Roku) but it does offer Amazon’s own interface and services as a replacement. It also has Alexa Voice built into the remote, so you can just yell at it if you’re too lazy to, you know, push buttons.
DEDICATED STREAMING MEDIA PLAYERS
Streaming media players are a little more robust than your simpler lightweight devices. They’re actual boxes that you hook up. This enables something like the Roku Premiere to offer a little more support, along with 4k picture quality, which is very, very important if you have one of those newfangled fancy TVs.
And here you have Amazon’s version, which, again, comes with Amazon’s own services instead of Roku’s, and also allows for 4k streaming. It also has Alexa Voice, and access to over 7,000 games and apps, so it does have a few more bells and whistles if that’s what you’re looking for.
Roku’s Premiere+ adds a bit more support to the package – in particular, HDR support, which allows for brighter colors, more detail, etc. – while also adding Ethernet and Micro SD ports. It’s 4k quality, only… better.
Roku’s not done! They seriously have you covered no matter what you need or want. The Ultra has everything the rest have, and then adds a remote finder, gaming buttons, a USB port, and more audio options, including Dolby. This is the closest you’ll get with a streaming media player to a theater experience.
MULTI-USE STREAMING DEVICES
The pro to something like this is that you can watch Blu-Ray discs and stream things like Netflix or Hulu. The downside is that it’s a Blu-Ray player first and a streaming device second, which means that it lacks the generous interface of, say, Roku with all its channels. But, if you just want something that will get the job done and let you still watch all your Blu-Rays, this is a good – and very affordable – way to go.
Ah, TiVo. Yes, TiVo is still hanging on, and if that’s your thing, then this is the way to go. You need a TiVo subscription, which is going to add another $14.99 a month, but with that you get the ability to do a whole lot of things that your standard DVR probably can’t do. Oh, and it’s 4k streaming capabilities, with fully integrated streaming apps, are a pretty decent bonus. Basically, you get an upgraded cable box and a streaming device all in one.
If video games are your thing, then you need the best system – which these days means either the PS4 or an Xbox One. You’re either a PlayStation man or an Xbox man, and you probably already know which, so… yeah, if you’re a Playstation partisan, then this is for you. This particular version comes with Uncharted 4 and, oh yeah, it will also show all your favorite streaming channels.
Like the Playstation 4, this is a gaming system first and a streaming device second, but it will do the job if you don’t need anything super fancy. This particular bundle offers a free digital download of several different popular games.
Now this is a little different. It combines the primary focus of a dedicated streaming media player with the multifunctionality of a gaming system. The streaming 4k HDR combined with thousands of available streaming channels makes it a top-notch streaming player, while the gaming aspect is unique in that it allows you to cast games from your PC and also offers exclusive Android games. There’s nothing quite like the NVIDIA Shield out there.
Why bother with having to set up a separate streaming device if you can just buy a TV that is a streaming device? Of course, you have to find a good one, and this is probably the best one out there in terms of a mixture of quality and affordability. The 40-inch size is pretty standard and should work for you unless you’re one of those ballers that needs a huge everything. It’s obviously a TV first and a streaming device second, but it will stream all your favorite channels, and again, all you have to do is push a button on your TV remote to make it happen.
Of course, if you want to go all in, this is the TV/device for you. I mean, after all, all those streaming players offering 4k quality only work if you have the TV to make it happen. And if you’re going to go 4k, you might as well go big baller. This curved, 4k beauty will stream everything you want or need without having to hook up any extra devices. Sure, it’s expensive, but can you really put a price on having the biggest dic… er, I mean entertainment system? No. No, you can’t.