We’re starting to get closer and closer to everything being exclusively digital. It started with books and music, and now we view most of our movies and TV shows through online streaming services.
And that’s great news as now we can access everything all in one place, without the need to fill our homes with media storage. As digital streaming continues to take over this world, we’re adding more and more smart devices to give us access to them.
While we can do this through our smartphones, computers, and tablets easily enough, what about our TVs? Of course, there is a wide range of great smart TVs available, but they also come with a higher price tag.
What’s more, unless you buy from a reputable brand, many smart TVs can be slow and clunky, and even freeze up from time to time. This is where media streaming devices come in. And you’re about to find out why they’re a great alternative, and which are the best ones to choose from.
Here we go…
Why Should I Get a Media Streaming Device?
To begin with, they’re a much cheaper way to convert your regular TV into a smart TV. They’re also really easy to set up as they simply plug into your TV, connect to your WiFi and go.
You can also connect them to other smart devices and control everything with your voice, including music. Plus, most of the best streaming devices come with more apps than a smart TV, and come with HD and 4K capabilities too.
Each device is different and has various functions, features, and specifications that you may or may not need. So now let’s take a look at the best streaming devices out there right now, so you can decide which is best for you.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Media Streaming Devices
We looked over all of the highest-rated media streaming devices to come up with the best performers. Each of the chosen devices has various features, specifications, and price tags, to help you decide the best way to smarten up your TV with ease.
Max resolution: 1080p | Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
At the most affordable end, we have the Amazon Fire TV Stick which comes with Alexa built in so you can give voice commands over what you watch. With top-notch picture and sound quality, all the top streaming services included, and an easy-to-use interface, you get everything you need in this neat, affordable package.
As it’s an Amazon device, it heavily features Prime video and music, but you can also access other content from Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. If you want more features still, there’s a 4K version and the Fire TV Cube also available.
Max resolution: 1080p | Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
The latest iteration of Google’s Chromecast is a close match to the Amazon Fire TV Stick, both in quality and affordability. Also very simple to set up and use, and has all the top services, including music streaming like Spotify.
The operating platform is Android, allowing you to cast via your phone or tablet, as well as giving you access to lots of Android apps. The main difference is that you don’t get voice control. You can control everything from your tablet or phone. But that doesn’t make it any less of a competitor as it works great all round.
Max resolution: 4K | Audio: Dolby Atmos | HDR: HDR10
Now we’re kicking things up a bit as the Roku Streaming Stick+ brings you a dazzling 4K picture. It’s one of the lesser-known streaming devices on the market, but it’s certainly a stand-out contender.
You might not get Dolby Vision, but with 4K capabilities and Dolby Atmos sound, it really is a fantastic bit of kit. It’s just as easy to use as the previous two, has a terrific selection of apps, and again, it’s really cheap for everything you get.
Various niche apps are available to bring you things like news, weather, and sport. And if you want more still, there’s the pricier Roku Ultra and Roku Soundbar, to boost your viewing experience. As the cheaper alternative though, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is up there with the best and well worth considering.
#4: Apple TV 4K
Max resolution: 4K | Audio: Dolby Atmos | HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
We all know Apple for bringing us high-quality innovations, but they do come with a higher price tag to boot. But you do pay for quality, and Apple delivers it in droves. So you get that brilliant 4K picture and Dolby Atmos sound, along with Siri as your personal assistant.
While you can watch all of the usual streaming services, Apple also has their own Apple TV+ streaming service. With that comes loads of 4K and HDR content, as well as exclusive shows you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re an Apple fan and can afford the extra cost, you won’t be disappointed with this device.
#5: TiVo Stream 4K
Max resolution: 4K | Audio: Dolby Atmos
Next up with have the TiVo Stream 4K – evolved from the TiVo set-top box, this streaming device has all the usual features and more. It allows for live TV integration and voice commands through Google Assistant. But, as it runs on Android, it comes with a vast array of downloadable apps and other streaming services like HBO.
Choosing Your Best Media Streaming Device
Most of the top streaming devices produce excellent picture and sound quality that’s in-keeping with the current streaming services. When it comes to deciding which one is best for you, it entails ease of setup, user interface, price, and app and service availability.
There’s a lot out there to choose from, but you will find that the big players are the ones who really up their game with each iteration. And as they’re all relatively similar in performance, it’s those additional features like voice command, bonus channels and apps, and connectivity that sets them apart.
Verdict: The Best Media Streaming Device For Your TV 2020
So there you have the top performers in media streaming devices. As usual, here’s one last recap to help you seal the deal on making your TV smarter.
First up we had the Amazon Fire TV Stick. A solid performer at a very reasonable price. Comes with everything you need, including the addition of voice command.
Next was the Google Chromecast, which is a close competitor to the Amazon Fire. It operates on Android so gives you a little more freedom when it comes to apps and casting from other smart devices.
Third is the Roku Streaming Stick+. This delivers 4K picture and great sound too. Comes with all the usual services and more, all at a low price.
Next, we had the more expensive Apple TV 4K. While it may not be for everyone, you do get high-quality spec and content, along with Apple features you won’t get on the other devices.
Last up was the TiVo Stream 4K. Another great Android device with everything you need, including bonus apps and channels, voice command, all at a competitive price.
So, with all of that in mind, perhaps this has persuaded you to opt for a media streaming device to give your TV a smarter performance. The best things about these devices is that they a cheaper alternative to buying a smart TV and it gives you the chance to test it out in case you want to get one in the future.
Whichever one you decide on, you’ll definitely enjoy all the many benefits of what this fabulous technology can bring to your living room. And if you’ve tried any of these yourself, let us know how you got on in the comments below.