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There are tons of streaming devices out there for you to use. Here's what you should know about each of them before making a decision.
|Best for wallet-friendly shoppers: Roku Streaming Stick 4K||Best for Amazon Prime members: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max||Best for Google users: Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K|
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Though you can stream your favorite movies and TV shows on your computer, you don't get the real viewing experience unless you're watching on your TV. That's where media streaming devices come in. These devices, designed to turn your regular old TV into a much smarter TV, are easy to hook up and provide a vast library of viewing options.
With a streaming device, you can tap into your favorite apps, like Netflix, Hulu, or Apple TV+, whenever you want to watch the streamers' biggest hits, or even live programming. But how do you know which device is right for you? We'll help you figure it out.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Roku Ultra 2020
Apple TV 4K
Nvidia Shield TV
|Roku Streaming Stick 4K||Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max||Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K||Roku Ultra 2020||Apple TV 4K||Nvidia Shield TV|
|Price||$50||$55||$50||$100||Starting at $179||$150|
|Picture quality||4K HDR||4K, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG||4K, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision||4K, Dolby Vision HDR||4K and HDR 10||4K HDR|
|Voice search capability||Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant||Amazon Alexa||Google Assistant||Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant||Siri||Google Assistant|
|Storage available||N/A||8GB||N/A||N/A||32GB or 64GB||16GB|
When you're shopping for anything new, of course your budget is one of the first things you consider. But your wallet shouldn't be the only thing guiding your purchase of a TV streaming device. There are a lot of streaming devices to choose from, and they each offer something a little bit different. Ahead, find all the details on the best TV streaming devices.
The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is a great option for people who don't want to spend a lot on their streaming device. The gadget comes in at just $50 and gives you access to your favorite apps, including Netflix and Hulu. This streaming device also has long-range Wi-Fi capabilities and a voice remote with TV controls. You can even share videos from your Apple device using Apple Airplay.
In terms of limitations, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K doesn't have the most advanced remote. You can't customize the button layout to get you to the streaming services in which you're subscribed, private listening isn't an option either -- unless you use the Roku app on your smartphone.
This version of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is 40 percent faster than the previous models, while it also supports next gen Wi-Fi 6 technology for faster streaming. For loyal Amazon Prime subscriber, this is hands down the best streaming device available. In addition to speed, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max lets you watch in 4K Ultra HD and is compatible with Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+ content. The remote makes it easy to talk to Alexa and has buttons that lead directly to some of the most popular on-demand services.
The only major downside to this device is that it doesn't work with every streaming service. Plus, you may need to upgrade your internet equipment if you want to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6 to maximize the device's features.
If Google is your brand of choice, the Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K is the best streaming device option for you. The remote is voice-activated and is compatible with the Google Assistant so you can be virtually hands-free. It supports thousands of built-in apps, which is bound to feel like a positive for Android users who feel overshadowed by Apple. Categories include TV shows, movies, games, sports, and music, as well as casting apps that let you mirror content from a compatible device.
Really the biggest con here is that it's a Google product, which could be a letdown for Apple or Amazon devotees. While we don't necessarily see that as a bad thing, some loyalists might. Another small drawback is that some apps don't stream in HDR, which can be annoying.
The Roku Ultra 2020 is Roku's fastest product yet. The streaming device processes your TV shows and movies at lightning speed so you can enjoy them in super high-definition. Roku Ultra 2020 streams in HD, 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision for the ultimate crisp viewing experience. The device not only works with Apple AirPlay, but also Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant, a feature that is unique to the Roku family of streaming players.
There are very few drawbacks when it comes to Roku Ultra 2020. It launches apps fast, the playback is crisp and high-quality, so what's not to love?
Well, we have to get nit-picky here. There are a couple missing functions with Roku Ultra voice commands. Most notably, you can use the voice command to control all your channels and apps, but you won't be able to control any smart home products -- something you can do with a product like the Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick.
For Apple loyalists, this is the streaming device for you. The Apple TV 4K will give you a high-quality viewing experience with numerous titles in Dolby Vision (4K HDR) and Dolby Atmos, as well as voice-powered controls with Siri.
The best part is that purchasing a new Apple TV 4K device will get you a free three-month subscription to Apple TV+. If you're unfamiliar with the streaming service, it offers tons of Apple Originals like Dickinson, Ted Lasso, Severance, The Morning Show, and more, plus content from popular apps like Paramount+, Prime Video, Sling TV, and many others.
If you're not an Apple devotee, you may not settle into this device as seamlessly as someone who already has a bunch of Apple products. In order to take advantage of the Apple TV's cross-functionality across several devices, all devices need to be Apple products. That's not to say, though, that Android fans won't still appreciate all the pros of the Apple TV. An Apple ID account is free for anyone to create.
Also, while Apple TV supports Dolby Atmos, you'll only be able to take advantage of it if the rest of your setup and internet can handle it. You will need a TV with HD capability and an HDMI cable that is Dolby Atmos compatible for 4K HDR streaming.
The Nvidia Shield TV is so much more than just a streaming device. Not only can you stream live and on-demand shows and movies, but it also operates as a game console and smart home device. It can be voice controlled through Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant as well.
There are more than 5,000 apps in the Google Play Store, meaning you can watch Netflix, YouTube TV, and all your other favorite streaming services. For an all-encompassing experience, this is a real winner and the best streaming box.
While the Nvidia Shield TV does function as a gaming console, it doesn't come with gaming remotes and isn't compatible with all games. Even more frustrating for owners of this device is the fact that Nvidia doesn't keep a running list of games that the device does support -- that means you're left to trial and error, or scouring Reddit threads for help.
The best streaming devices vary greatly, not just in price, but in functionality as well. For those on a budget, something like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is a very good option, if you want to save some money and get a barebones experience. But if you're looking for something more in-depth that will give you the whole experience, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Nvidia Shield TV are great choices.