What are Streaming Devices?
A Streaming Media Device allows you to stream music and videos on your television using online services. It connects your television or home theatre to the internet. Other features that define it includes functions such as the ability to view photos stored on your local network, flash memory cards, or USB-based external drives.
Some of the best manufacturers making streaming media devices are Roku, Apple TV, Sony, Netgear, Western Digital. The best streaming device is one that offers great value, one that supports a wide collection of services and apps, and one that’s equipped with true universal search functionality.
Prerequisites to use Streaming Devices
- Most streaming media devices need an HDTV(some devices do not require your TV to be capable of high-definition resolution).
- A broadband internet connection.
- A home network (either wired or wireless).
- Once running, you’ll need to subscribe to the services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus etc in order to use them.
List of Top Streaming Media Devices
#1. Roku Streaming Stick+
It is the best streaming stick in the market. In the last few years, around 20 streaming devices have been put to test. And Roku Streaming Stick+ came out on top because it is future-proof, affordable, and offers an interface that’s customizable.
It supports 4K, HDR10, and WCG video formats and Dolby Atmos for audio. It is not only the best budget-friendly streaming device but one of the best Roku player available today. It’s remote works through walls and lets you search with voice and control your TV’s volume and turn the TV on and off.
#2. Roku Express Streaming Media Player
It is ultra-affordable and is the best streaming device for older TVs without a 4K display panel. It is easy to set-up and use and can stream full HD content from all major popular services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and Sling TV.
The Roku Express includes a High-Speed HDMI(High-definition Multimedia Interface) cable and there’s no monthly equipment fee. Also, there’s plenty to stream without spending extra along with access to hundreds of free channels. Also includes its signature remote.
#3. Apple TV
Apple Tv app allows you to browse content from over 60 video services without switching from one app to the next. The latest Apple TV 4K supports 4K video with HDR10 and Dolby Vision and features the Apple TV app store. It’s a good choice for Apple devotees.
It has great content from apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, ESPN. You can use Siri to search 4K content on the new Apple TV. You can get even more from your Apple TV like game controllers, speakers, and headphones which will make your Apple TV gaming and entertainment experience even better.
#4. Amazon Fire TV
One of the best media streaming devices and allows you to stream 4K HDR content. It works perfectly with Amazon Prime as the Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to Amazon Prime video.
But it also supports plenty of other services like like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and YouTube. It supports Dolby Atmos audio. You can control the Amazon Fire TV entirely with voice (once paired with an Amazon Echo speaker).
#5. Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast streaming media player can stream 4K and HDR content from the likes of Netflix and YouTube. It is best for a mobile device as you can control everything from it.
No remotes, on-screen interfaces, and no app stores are available for separate navigation. You can stream whatever you are watching on your smartphone or tablet by just connecting your Chromecast to your home network.
#6. Roku Ultra
It is the best streaming box and is excellent for those who want the features of the Streaming Stick+, but desire a little more horsepower and stability. The Roku Ultra helps to improve connection speeds and a MicroSD card slot to store even more apps or work as a source for pictures and video with an Ethernet port support.
Also has the USB port, so that you can view content from any compatible device. The box has some special features like “lost remote” in a remote which will trigger a tone and “Night listening mode” which adjusts the volume automatically scene-by-scene to avoid waking up kids.
#7. NVIDIA SHIELD TV
It is a streaming TV box which supports 4K HDR content from the services like Amazon, Netflix, and, of course, YouTube. As it works on the android system, it gives you exclusive access to Android games. It’s more than a TV. As it supports 4K HDR it makes Nvidia Shield TV ideal for gamers—, especially PC gamers.
You can easily search for content, open apps, and control smart home appliances with your voice with the help of Google Assistant on board.
Most Popular Streaming Devices
Roku vs Apple TV
Two most popular streaming devices among people are Roku and Apple TV. They offer great value, supports a wide collection of services and apps, and are equipped with true universal search functionality. Let’s compare their features-
|Operating System||tvOS 2.0.0||Android, iOS|
|Weight||9.6 oz||5 oz|
|Dimensions||3.5 X 3.5 X 1.0 inches||3.9 X 3.9 X 0.9 inches|
|Internet Streaming Services||YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu Plus, HBO GO||Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO GO, VUDU|
|Connectivity||HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||HDMI, Wi-Fi, USB disc, Micro SD slot, Ethernet|
|HDMI-capable TV Required||Yes||Only for Roku. All other boxes can run on almost every TV|
Before selecting the best streaming device, study their features and select the one which supports the wide collection of services, offers great value, and those which are equipped with true universal search functionalities.