With so much on-demand content available these days, media streaming devices have become extremely popular, and for good reason. They allow you to transform your TV into a smart TV by bringing apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu to the big screen.
Thanks to high demand, there are many media streamers available on the market from companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple. Although most do the same thing, there are a number of differences between them, making it harder for consumers to choose which one to get.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best media streaming devices you can get your hands on. Keep in mind that for the first half of the article we are focusing on the very best options at any price, but in the second half we take a look at the best budget options as well. Without further ado, let’s get started. Here are the best media streaming devices for your TV.
Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.
Amazon Fire TV
This is the latest and greatest media streaming device from Amazon, and it’s super easy to set up. All you have to do is plug it into the HDMI port of your TV and a wall outlet, connect it to a Wi-Fi network, and you’re good to go.
The device gives you access to a number of different video services including YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu and is capable of streaming videos in 4K resolution. It also supports loads of different music services such as Spotify, iHeartRadio, as well as Amazon’s Prime Music.
One of its biggest features is that it comes with a remote control that has Alexa on board. So instead of pushing buttons constantly to control the device, you can do so via voice commands. You can ask Amazon’s digital assistant to launch YouTube, play a specific show, find comedies, fast forward one minute, and much more.
Amazon’s Fire TV is already up for pre-order and will officially be released on October 25. It will set you back $69.99.
Apple TV gives you access to all the major services such as YouTube, Netflix, ESPN, and many others and can stream videos in 4K resolution. Just like Amazon’s Fire TV described above, this media streamer comes with a remote control included in the box and also has Apple’s digital assistant on board. Siri provides another way for you to interact with the device, as you can open apps, play and pause videos, and search for content using voice commands.
You can also stream videos and music from an iPhone or iPad to Apple TV, play games, and check out the photos and videos stored in your iCloud Photo Library. The setup process is easy and required you to plug the device into a power source as well as the HDMI port on your TV. However, the only problem is that the HDMI cable is not included in the retail box, so you’ll have to buy one in case you don’t already have it.
Apple TV comes in black and is available in two storage options: 32 GB and 64 GB. It’s one of the most expensive media streaming devices on this list, as it will set you back $179 or $199 depending on the model.
Roku has a number of media streaming devices on offer with the Ultra being the best one. Just plug it into your TV and browse through 450,000+ movies and TV episodes across 4,500+ paid or free channels.
The device can stream content in 4K quality and comes with a remote that sports gaming buttons. It also has voice support, allowing you to search for video content without having to press a bunch of buttons, and features a built-in headphone jack. This means you can listen to audio with the help of the headphones included in the retail box in order not to bother other people you may have around you.
Another cool feature of the Roku Ultra is the remote finder. Just press the button on the device and the remote will emit a sound, so you’ll be able to locate it more easily. Those of you interested can get in on Amazon for $87.70 via the button below.
Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku’s second device on this list is the Streaming Stick+, which is quite similar to the Ultra model described above. It gives you access to the exact same content and can stream videos in 4K. However, it’s smaller and plugs directly into the HDMI port of your TV, without the need for additional cables.
The media streaming device also comes with the remote with voice search support but doesn’t have a headphone jack or the gaming buttons. There’s also no remote finder feature, which would be nice to have but likely isn’t a deal breaker for most people.
If these things aren’t that important to you, the Streaming Stick+ is a great option. It will set you back $69.99 or around $20 less than the Roku Ultra.
Nvidia Shield TV
If you’re into gaming, this is the streaming device for you. It allows you to stream a number of popular games from Nvidia’s servers to your TV, but only if you sign up for the company’s GeForce Now service that will set you back $8 per month. You also have a chance to download and play a number of Android titles or stream games from your PC to the Shield TV.
Of course, Nvidia Shield TV isn’t all about gaming, as it also gives you access to all the major video services including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and so on. An Assistant-powered remote control is included in the box, as is a Shield controller for playing games.
Due to its many features, Nvidia Shield TV is quite expensive. The gorgeous device currently retails for $199.99 on Amazon.
Google Chromecast Ultra
Google’s media streaming device works a little bit different than the rest of the products on this list. It doesn’t have a central hub on a TV that would allow you to browse through different services. Instead, you have to cast the content from apps like YouTube, Netflix, and others to your TV by opening them on your smartphone, tablet, or PC and pressing the dedicated button.
It works like a charm but can be a bit annoying to some who would prefer to control the device with a remote, which the Chromecast Ultra obviously doesn’t come with.
The device can stream videos in 4K quality and is equipped with an ethernet port for streaming over a wired connection. You can turn your TV into a digital picture frame with the help of Google Photos and connect the Chromecast Ultra with an Assistant-powered Home device, so you can search and play videos with various voice commands. To get it, you’ll have to dish out $69.
Best budget meida streaming devices
Roku Express HD
This is a great option for those on a budget, as it’s the most affordable of the media streaming devices on this list. Just plug it into the HDMI port on your TV, connect it to a Wi-Fi network, and enjoy movies and TV shows from Netflix and a bunch of other services in 1080p resolution.
A remote control is included in the box with dedicated buttons for launching Sling, Hulu, Netflix, and Vudu. Alternatively, you can also control the device using the free Roku app, which allows you to cast images, videos, and music from your smartphone to the big screen. It also supports voice search, making it easy to find your favorite shows quickly.
The Roku Express HD won’t cost you an arm and a leg, as it retails for just $29.99. You can get it from Walmart by clicking the button below.
Roku Express HD+
This one is more or less identical to the Roku Express HD — see above. It gives you access to the same content from services like YouTube and so on, comes with the same remote with voice support, and can be controlled via your smartphone with the help of the Roku app.
What makes it different is that it includes composite cables — in addition to an HDMI cable — making it compatible with older TVs as well.
This means that the device is also slightly more expensive, although it’s still very affordable. You can get your hands on it for just $39.99, which is $10 more when compared to the price of the Roku Express HD.
Roku Streaming Stick
The fifth and final Roku device on this list is the Streaming Stick. It plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV without the need for any cables. As expected, it gives you access to the exact same content as the rest of Roku’s lineup including Netflix, YouTube, as well as various sports apps like NBA.
A remote is included in the box that sports voice search as well as dedicated buttons for launching popular video services. If that’s not really your thing, you can also control the device with the free app provided by Roku.
In terms of design and features, it’s basically the same as the Streaming Stick+ that’s also on this list, with one exception. It can only stream 1080p videos, whereas the + model supports 4K. That’s why it’s also $20 cheaper, meaning it can be yours for $49.99. A heck of a deal for one of the best budget media streaming devices on this list.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick is extremely popular for a number of reasons. It’s small and plugs directly into your TV, so you won’t even notice that it’s there, and comes with an Alexa-powered remote control.
Just press the button on top and say things like, “Alexa, open YouTube” or, “Alexa, show me action movies” to save time you would otherwise spend pressing a bunch of buttons to get the job done. There are over 140 channels and apps available giving you access to all sorts of video content as well as music.
The Fire TV Stick is capable of streaming 1080p videos and can be paired with any of Amazon’s Echo devices. It definitely won’t break the bank, as the company is selling it for just $39.
Google Chromecast (2nd Generation)
Just like the Chromecast Ultra, this device doesn’t have an interface you could use to search for apps on your TV. You have to press the dedicated button in apps on your smartphone, tablet, or PC to stream videos to the big screen. That makes the Chromecast series one of the most simple to use of all media streaming devices on the market right now.
Google’s Chromecast is small, hidden from sight, and can turn your TV into a digital picture frame with the help of Google Photos. It can also be paired with a Google Home device but doesn’t have an ethernet port like its bigger brother. The only major difference between this model and the more expensive one is that it lacks 4K support, which for those with 1080p TVs or limited Internet connections — it won’t really make any real difference.
It comes in Black, Lemonade, or Coral, and will set you back $35. Get it from Google via the button below.
As you can see, there are a lot of different media streaming devices out there. In general, all of them do the same thing, with some also featuring a remote, a pair of headphones, and even a game controller. Therefore, which one to get really depends on what exactly it is you’re looking for and how much are you willing to spend. However, they are all great devices, and you really can’t go wrong with either one.
What’s the best media streaming device in your eyes? Let us know by posting a comment down below.