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Plenty of hardware options exist for streaming Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon and the rest. Here are our picks for the best.
If you're looking for the best streaming device to go with that newBắn cá koi HDR TV, or if your current media streaming device is getting long in the tooth, chances are you'll be more than happy with one of these.
Roku is our favorite streaming system, with the most streaming app options (HBO Max notwithstanding), the simplest interface and the best search. It also has a content-agnostic platform that doesn't push any one media streaming provider, like Amazon Prime Video or Apple, over another. The Plus is one of the cheapest streaming TV options with 4K HDR, and even if your current TV doesn't support those formats, your next one probably will. And with the AirPlay update it's one of the least-expensive ways to connect your iPhone or other Apple device to your TV. The Plus might be three years old, but it's still our top pick. Read our Roku Streaming Stick Plus reviewBắn cá koi.
The Chromecast with Google TV isn't quite as good as the Roku Streaming Stick Plus but it comes closer than any other device on the market. It outdoes the Streaming Stick Plus by adding Dolby Vision compatibility -- to get that in a Roku you'll need the $100 Ultra -- but its biggest strength is Google Assistant voice search, which works well for finding stuff to watch. We also like the integration with other Google services such as Google Photos and YouTube TV is also impressive. The interface is more evolved-looking than Roku but ultimately we prefer Roku's simpler approach and no-nonsense search results. That said, the new Chromecast is a better choice for those already living in Google's world. Read our Chromecast with Google TV reviewBắn cá koi.
The perfect foil to the two $50 streamers above, the Apple TV costs $180 but is the better choice for people who want to check every feature box -- or who just want an Apple device. Unlike the others on this list it's compatible with every major streaming service -- Roku is missing HBO Max, Chromecast doesn't have Apple TV Plus -- as well as Apple Arcade gaming and Apple One subscription bundles. Video purists will appreciate its flexible HDR while Siri fans will dig its voice extras. For most people, however, Apple's venerable streamer just isn't worth the money, especially now that Roku has AirPlay. Read our Apple TV 4K review.
Let's get this out of the way first: If you prefer the simplicity of Roku's app-based menus like I do, you might like the Roku Express better (see below). But the Lite trounces the Express in features-for-the-money. Its biggest advantage is a remote with built-in voice search and control (the cheapest Roku with a voice remote is the Streaming Stick Plus) thanks to Alexa. Its remote also doesn't need line of sight to work. If you can't step up to a $50 player, the Lite is your best bet. Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite review.
We don't like it quite as much as the Fire TV Lite, but it is a Roku. Roku Express delivers all of the goodness of Roku's platform, and it includes a remote, an HDMI port and Micro USB port, an HDMI cable and a little sticker to keep it in place. And it's often on sale for less than $30. Read our Roku Express (2019) reviewBắn cá koi.
Soundbars with streaming onboard may be a relatively recent development, but Roku's new Streambar nails it. It has the Roku interface we know and love, complete with 4K HDR with improved sound for any TV, especially dialog. It's smaller and more affordable than its predecessor, the Roku Smart Soundbar, but we think the new Streambar makes more sense for most people. Read our Roku Streambar review.
I don't like it as much as the two other $50 streamers on this list, but Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K makes a lot of sense for people knee-deep in Amazon devices already. Like the Lite, it bakes Alexa right into the remote control. You can use voice control to search for video on Amazon or turn on your Christmas tree. Or both at the same time. Throw in a massive selection of Amazon content as well as Dolby Vision HDR and the Stick 4K is still an excellent choice. Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review.
Sure, it's an expensive media streamer at $150 -- and that's before adding a game controller -- but if you want a Jack-of-all-trades video streaming player, the Shield is it. In addition to a streaming media player with 4K streaming and HDR, it offers a robust library of games, both console-level and Android, Steam Link, built-in Google Assistant complete with smart home control, NAS access, Plex server capability, HDHomeRun integration and much more. Read our Nvidia Shield TV review.