Last updated: September 25, 2020

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Who would have thought that we would live in a world where we have so many digital services available at the touch of a button? As if that were not enough, we also have streaming. Whether you use platforms like Netflix, Youtube, or Hulu, you need a streaming device that can connect to your TV. You can stream movies, TV shows and music, download and play video games and even browse websites with the Internet Explorer app — all in the same device.

Don’t know what we are talking about? No problem, you are in the right place. Streaming devices have become a staple in our increasingly smart homes. In this article, we have prepared a guide to tell you everything you need to know about streaming devices, including where to find the best ones.

Key Facts

  • Streaming devices, which are also called “media players,” are small devices that connect to your TV and give you access to the internet and some of the most popular applications.
  • Among the media streamers currently available, five platforms stand out: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Cast, and Roku. All of these platforms except Google Cast have on-screen menu systems and dedicated remotes so you can view whatever you want from the couch, without a mobile device to control everything.
  • You may not be able to use streaming devices with older TVs, although with Smart TVs, you can always use them. You can find streaming devices from popular manufacturers such as Amazon and Google, each with its own set of features and characteristics.
  • When choosing a streaming device, it is recommended to consider certain aspects such as connection quality, design, compatibility, and available connection ports.

Our Selection: The Best Streaming Devices on the U.S. Market

TVs today are not like they used to be. You are no longer a passive spectator, but instead have several tools at your disposal to interact with. You can now choose which shows you want to watch and access all of your favorite applications. There are plenty of streaming devices out there to help you connect the latest and greatest video streaming services to your TV, and they’re not all created equal. Before buying, you’ll want to consider a few different things. The market offers all kinds of options, so we have gathered a selection of the best streaming devices available now.

Whether you’re hoping to stream your favorite TV shows or just relax and watch some YouTube videos, these are the best TV streaming devices you can find.

The Best HD Streaming Device

If you are looking for a streaming device that plays your shows in high definition, then this may be the product for you. Roku Express delivers a smooth HD streaming experience on your TV screen that is perfect for viewing your favorite shows and movies. And it is easy to use, just plug it into your TV with the included high speed HDMI cable, connect to the Internet, and start streaming. It also comes with a wireless remote that can be used to scroll through your favorite channels. Enjoy thousands of movies and TV shows with Roku!

The Best Streaming Device With Headphones

This streaming device not only lets you stream all of your favorite movies and TV shows, it also comes with a pair of premium JBL headphones! This media player can stream in HD/4K/HDR, and features hit movies, popular shows and more with no subscription or fees on “The Roku Channel.” It also gives you access to your favorite applications such as Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Now, and Showtime. The headphones are also great for connecting to your TV for private listening!

The Best 4K Streaming Device

Are you looking for a device that is compatible with 4K streaming? The Roku Premier is a great option to start streaming in HD/4K/HDR. With over 500,000 movies and TV shows available to you, there is something for everyone with Roku. You can even connect your device to the Roku app, which allows you to enjoy several other features such as The Roku Channel, Roku Voice, private listening, and Cast to TV. Discover the possibilities with this very useful and versatile streaming device!

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Streaming Devices

The amount of multimedia content and applications that can be accessed online has increased so much in the last decade, that we need a simple and convenient way to navigate among them. Thankfully, we have streaming devices to help us improve our viewing experience. In this section, we will answer some of your most frequently asked questions about streaming devices, so you have all of the information that you need before purchasing one.

The biggest problem with many low quality streaming devices is the Wi-Fi connection.
(Source: Heap: 105296023/ 123rf.com)

What is a streaming device exactly?

Streaming devices are multimedia mini-players that connect to your TV and give you the ability to access all sorts of applications, such as Netflix, Youtube, HBO, and Hulu. Some brands offer streaming devices in the shape of a box, and others in a convenient stick shape.

Chances are high that your TV’s apps are slow, poorly designed, or out of date—and that’s if it has all the apps you want at all. TV makers focus on manufacturing beautiful screens than building good software. Streaming devices like Roku have just about every streaming app there is, and setup is hassle-free. Plus, you can plug one of these devices into your next TV, or another TV in your house, at any time.

Walt MossbergAmerican Journalist

“Streaming TV shows, movies, and other types of video over the Internet to all manner of devices, once a fringe habit, is now squarely a mainstream practice. Even people still paying for cable or satellite service often also have Netflix or Hulu accounts.”

What are streaming devices for?

With the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Youtube, and the arrival of 4K, many users began looking for ways to quickly access the internet and watch movies and TV shows, as well as browse the web. Many new Smart Tvs have their own streaming system built in, but not everyone is satisfied with these, and they can have their limitations.

Many people, therefore, use streaming devices to access the internet as well as their favorite platforms. This is a great way for people to improve their viewing experience, as they are able to choose which TV shows and movies they wish to watch whoever they want.

What is needed to configure or install a streaming device?

Installing a streaming device is very simple. Keep in mind that these devices are connected to the HDMI input on your TV, therefore most models will have an HDMI cable that works as a power source. You need an HDMI connection, or an adapter, to use a streaming device, in most cases.

Usually, once the connection is made, the TV will automatically recognize the streaming device and it will not require any further configuration. With the included remote control, you should be able to start accessing popular platforms such as Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, as well as thousands of games and applications, among other options.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of streaming devices?

Streaming sticks allow us to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer right from our televisions. Whether you use it to listen to music, or watch movies, you have thousands of options available at your fingertips. As far as advantages and disadvantages, here is what you need to know:

Advantages
  • They are portable.
  • Installation is very simple.
  • They are very small, so they do not take up too much space.
  • They are cheaper than Smart TVs.
Disadvantages
  • They do not work well with weak Wifi signals.
  • Some are designed in a way that they can be seen.

Is the internal storage of a streaming device important?

To tell the truth, not really. Today, people consume most of their content through streaming services such as Youtube or Netflix, so it is normal to not need much storage. However, if your goal is to save videos, images, or movies, look for a streaming device with at least 8 GB of storage. It’s rare to find a streaming stick with more than 8GB of internal memory.

Their limited storage space also restricts software upgrade options. Upgrades and new apps tend to increase in size, which could be a problem for devices with only around 8GB of internal storage.

What operating systems work with streaming devices?

There is actually universal operating systems for these types of devices. Some incorporate Android TV, while others have their own systems, such as Amazon or Apple. Other streaming devices that have their own operating systems can vary in what they offer the user.

For example, Android users might be able to get more use from an Android TV device, while those using an iPhone and Mac might prefer the Apple TV.

Roku has also pushed into the television market with its Roku TV platform. The company doesn’t make TVs itself, but it offers its technology to manufacturers to incorporate into their screens. This has allowed many more budget-priced televisions to include connected features they couldn’t use a few years ago, while keeping prices low.

Anthony WoodCEO of Roku

“At this point, all we have done is bring to television the tools and technologies that exist on other advertising platforms that are already on the Internet. But I think there are also ways to improve the advertising experience for customers.”

What resolutions and formats do streaming devices offer?

This is perhaps the aspect that makes the most difference when deciding between streaming devices. Some players support a maximum resolution of 1080 pixels, while others can support 4K. Besides the resolution, you should check if it supports HDR content and if it has a Dolby certification.

Not all streaming sticks and boxes are able to handle 4K content, so if you have a 4K TV, you’ll want to get one that can stream 4K videos; the reverse is also true, as a non-4K TV won’t be able to display 4K content.

What other interesting features do streaming devices have?

There are several advantages to having a streaming device. The possibilities will depend on the manufacturer, and they are not all the same. This is actually an advantage, since not everyone wants the same things when it comes to streaming. Here are some of the most popular features to look for:

  • Voice command: allows you to use your voice to turn on your TV, adjust the sound, or search for content.
  • Virtual assistants: With virtual assistants such as Alexa (Amazon) or Siri (Apple), you can ask them to perform any function using your device. For example, you can ask them to start playing an episode of your favorite series.
  • “Lost Remote” button: This will play a sound from your remote control so you can find it quickly if you lose it.
  • Night mode: Night listening mode automatically adjusts the volume of your content to avoid waking children, which is ideal for families with small children.

Shopping Criteria

If you are thinking about getting a streaming device, then you are one step away from improving your digital viewing experience. With a streaming device, there are plenty of possibilities when it comes to watching your favorite movies and TV shows. To choose the right one, you should take a few things into account before purchasing, since there is a wide variety on the market, and they all offer different things.

Internet Connection Quality

The biggest problem with low quality streaming devices is the Wi-Fi connection. This will affect the loading of your videos or the browsing speed and in the end, you will get tired of this. It is best to make sure that your device is compatible with dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz), and if possible, that it has an Ethernet connection.

Streaming sticks typically lack Ethernet ports, which could pose a problem in areas with weak Wi-Fi.

USB Connection Ports

As we have mentioned, it is not always important to have a streaming device with a lot of storage capacity, since most of the content people access is online. What is important, is to have good USB connection ports so that the data transmission is as optimal as possible.

Compatibility

Unfortunately, not all streaming devices work with all TVs. Either because of the operating system or by the model of your TV, so it is important to make sure that your device will be compatible. To do this, look carefully at the product description, which should clearly indicate which TVs will work with your streaming device.

Design

In general, streaming devices are pretty small. This is an advantage, since it means they can be hidden behind the TV without obstructing your view. However, there are some models that do not have a convenient design. For example, if your TV is mounted on a wall, it may be more difficult for the streaming device to go unseen. Consider this when you are looking at different devices.

Formats and Resolution

In the end, we want our TV to play content in the highest possible quality. Be sure that your streaming device can support the quality that you want. Not everyone needs 4K, since most streaming platforms do not show movies and TV shows this way. You should check that your device at least supports a resolution of 1080 pixels, and 4K, if possible.

Summary

Nowadays, it’s all about streaming, and TV networks are embracing the space with apps that showcase the content they have to offer. The goal is to make it easy for you to watch whatever you want, whether you’re on the go or at home, on the couch and in front of a big television. But, in order to enjoy these applications, you’re going to need some hardware. That’s where streaming boxes, streaming sticks and even gaming consoles come in.

Streaming devices are the best way to improve our digital viewing experience. These small devices only need an HDMI input to access the internet and allow the user to take advantage of many applications, download content, and play video games.

Thanks to streaming devices, you do not need a smart TV to use Netflix, Youtube, or any other platforms. They are easy to configure and set up, and being so small, you can take them with you when you travel. Every brand and manufacturer will have their own operating systems, so you will have to check the compatibility with your TV.

We hope this guide helps you choose the best streaming device! Please feel free to leave us a comment and share on your social networks!

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