The best streaming device will instantly connect you to countless movies, TV shows, songs, and applications. Who needs cable when you have the best streaming media player to fulfill all of your cravings?
The best media streamers also don't require a monthly fee since they use Wifi to connect to streaming services you already pay for (you can always buy more, of course). They may even allow you to get rid of your cable TV services altogether and save money on your bills.
This article is an explanation of the best streaming devices and how they work. I will also review each of the best streaming devices based on price, compatibility, and features to help you decide which one you will enjoy the most.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Streaming Device
49 million U.S. homes who have the Internet own an Internet-connected TV or streaming device as of 2016, according to The NPD Group. In fact, cable boxes are now officially outnumbered by households with Internet-connected TVs, according to Variety.
If you're in the market for the best streaming device, there are plenty of things you need to consider before you buy.
1. Types Of Media Streaming Devices
There are two different types of TV streaming devices to think about before you buy. Here's how they compare.
The best streaming sticks are somewhat different from the best streaming boxes. For one thing, streaming sticks are usually more portable because they're small with little wires necessary to connect. If you travel often and like to stream music, movies or shows while you're away, you need the best media streamer stick. Just keep in mind that it may not come with the best screen resolution options and features.
TV Streaming Boxes
TV streaming boxes, on the other hand, have wires and are not easy to stick in your backpack on a trip or set up on the go. Additionally, streaming boxes like the Apple TV 4 can be set up manually instead of streaming from a smart device. TV Streaming boxes usually have better screen resolution and features than streaming sticks.
Ultimately, if you're looking for something portable with an easy setup process to bring with you on the go, you want the best streaming stick. If you're looking for a smart TV connection at home, you may want the best streaming TV box instead.
2. Streaming Services and Apps Available
You should also pay close attention to which apps and streaming services will be available on your streaming device. For example, do you want to make sure your streaming media player connects with Netflix? What about Amazon Prime? Most streaming media players are Netflix streaming devices these days. Certain devices like the Google Chromecast, however, do not connect with Amazon accounts.
3. Media Streamer TV Compatibility and Screen Resolution
Make sure your streaming device is compatible with your TV and has solid screen resolution. The best streaming devices and services have begun coming out with 4K HD resolution options. 4K is a higher quality of streaming now being offered by certain top streaming services like Netflix.
If you have an older TV with no HDMI outlet, however, you may have to upgrade before you think about buying such streaming devices. For example, the Roku Streaming Stick only works with HDTVs that have an HDMI outlet.
4. TV Streaming Device Remote
The best streaming devices will either come with a remote included or a separate remote for you to purchase. Most also have their own application, so you can control searches and streaming straight from your smartphone.
5. Setting Up Your Streaming Media Player
Set up for your media streamer should be pretty simple, whether you decide to purchase the best streaming stick or the best TV streaming box. Here's what you'll need to do.
- Plug your streaming device into the TV and wall and turn it on.
- Connect to the same WiFi as your TV on your smart device.
- Pair your remote if you have one.
- Log into your account and adjust settings how you want.
- Start streaming.
With a streaming box, however, you may have the option to set up manually. This means you don't have to connect with a smart device to stream.
"...cable boxes are now officially outnumbered by households with Internet-connected TVs..."
Related: How to Connect Your Phone to Your TV
What Device Offers the Best Value for Money?
The absolute best streaming device on the market today is the Google Chromecast Ultra. It is the smallest streaming stick with portability and amazing features that other sticks just don't have.
Its features resemble a streaming box, except the Google Chromecast Ultra, is close to half the price of boxes like the Apple TV 4. If you don't mind missing out on Amazon shows, movies, and services, this best streaming media player has everything else you need.
If you don't feel like you can miss out on Amazon and still want features on top of the best video quality, the Roku Ultra is the best TV streaming box out there. It is less expensive than the Apple TV 4's 64GB version and provides better video quality as well as a microSD slot for extra channel storage.
It also has the most apps out of any streaming device, easy customization options, and a headphone jack built into the remote for private listening.
Related: How to Cut Your Cable Bill
How I Chose The Best Device
I researched every relevant streaming device on the market to come up with the best streaming devices out there. I analyzed prices and features and evaluated specs and cons regarding products such as the NVIDIA Shield, the TiVO Bolt, ABOX, KUKELE, and more.
I also researched customer reviews and ratings to determine if each product lives up to its reputation. After careful consideration, I truly believe the Google Chromecast Ultra and the Roku Ultra are the best streaming devices available to date.
Related: How to Watch TV Online
Overall, the best streaming device will connect your TV to a world of applications and the best streaming sites with movies, TV shows, and games. To make sure you have a stable connection, however, you should take a look at our comparison of the best internet providers.