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Best Streaming Devices

Updated March 2024
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Fire TV Cube
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Powerful Performance
Bottom Line

Exceptional visual fidelity, a nice-looking form factor, and quick loading made this a team favorite after trials.


Has the ability to control smart home devices connected to the TV via Alexa. Features quality built-in speakers. We love how it streams 4K content with minimal load times thanks to WiFi 6E. Switches between streaming services with minimal lag. Has a nice-looking form factor.


Initial setup presented some issues for our team, such as with Spotify connectivity.

Best Bang for the Buck
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Fire TV Stick 4K Max
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

This is one of the most versatile, inexpensive options for watching your favorite movies and TV in 4K.


An affordable unit that's optimized for 4K Ultra HD content. Features voice controls and supports Dolby Atmos. It offers access to millions of titles, and you can control other smart devices in your home. It's easy to set up.


You won't get 4K streaming unless your TV supports it.

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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

Based on our testing, this is an all-in-one model; it supports gaming, a smart-home hub, and a media player.


It supports every AV format, including Dolby Vision, 4K HDR, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS Master Audio. Features dual USB 3.0 ports for storage expansion, USB cameras, controllers, and more.


No support for Apple TV+ service. Many features require a Google account.

Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K
Chromecast with Google TV 4K
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

An intuitive, cost-effective way to stream from your favorite apps and cast content from your phone to the big screen.


Very simple unit to learn and use, and at a reasonable price. The Google Assistant feature offers helpful voice commands. Supports Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Peacock, and others. Plug-and-play.


Users may experience occasional lag when switching between apps.

Roku Express 4K+
Express 4K+
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Best of the Brand
Bottom Line

Get the most out of Roku’s capabilities out of the box, including most streaming giants and a slew of lesser-known, free ones.


Roku’s old-school interface may not be for everyone, but it’s easy to connect to your TV and get the most out of the picture, sound, and more. The voice remote with a headphone jack lets you turn the TV on and off, adjust the volume, find something to watch (and the lost remote), and connect headphones with ease.


Some prefer the vast, modern convenience of Apple, Fire TV, and other competitors.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested most of our top five to be sure that these products are worth your time. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

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Buying guide for Best streaming devices

A streaming device is a small unit that connects to your TV and lets you stream content. They’re inexpensive and a terrific option for those who aren’t ready to part ways with their older TV in favor of a smart TV. They’re easy to set up, as you only need to plug into a power source and your TV. Some require you to set up an account, but once you do, you’re ready to start streaming.

Although all streaming devices have similar capabilities, there are some notable differences between them. Before you buy one, it’s a good idea to know what type of picture enhancement functions it supports, the layout of the remote control, what type of voice assistant access you get, the device’s processing power and its user interface.

Our top pick, the Roku Ultra Streaming Device, delivers on all fronts. It packs a powerful processor for shorter load times, excellent Wi-Fi range for minimal buffering and lagging and several image-enhancing features, including HDR10+. We thoroughly tested another top option, the Nvidia Shield Android TV Pro. We analyzed its streaming and gaming capabilities as well as its picture and sound quality.

Best streaming devices

Roku Ultra Streaming Device

The Roku Ultra boasts many upgrades and features over other Roku streaming devices, making it the best Roku and our favorite streaming device overall. It offers the best Wi-Fi connectivity of any Roku and up to 50% more range and hands-free access to the Roku voice assistant. It supports 4K streaming and other technologies for an immersive experience, including Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for enhanced picture quality and Dolby Atmos for superior sound.

The remote is one of the best upgrades and a big reason why we love this streaming device. Unlike other remotes, you never have to worry about having batteries handy since it’s rechargeable and has shortcut buttons for quick app access, TV controls and a headphone jack for private listening.

Chromecast with Google TV 4K

In recent years, Google has taken a bit of a backseat in the streaming device game because of the emergence of other devices, such as Roku and Fire Sticks. However, we recognize the Chromecast with Google TV 4K as a top streaming device, especially for those looking for a good bargain pick.

This Chromecast has an interface similar to the Fire Stick, showing all your apps and favorite content in one place. It recommends TV shows and movies based on your viewing history, and you can create profiles for kids with active parental controls. The remote has a dedicated Google Assistant button you can use to search for content and control your TV hands-free.

Nvidia Shield Android TV Pro

We tested the Nvidia Shield and found it to be the perfect streaming device for hardcore gamers and anybody who’s used to using smartphones or tablets running Android operating software. It’s considerably more expensive than the other streaming devices on our list, but that’s because it boasts more features and functionality. Dolby Vision enhances color and brightness to give you better contrast, and Dolby Atmos provides superior sound quality.

The Nvidia Shield offers 4K HDR streaming from popular apps such as Netflix and Disney+ and GeForce Now cloud gaming, giving you access to over 1,000 games. We loved that the Tegra X1+ processor makes it 25% faster than the previous generation Nvidia Shield and is powerful enough to upscale HD content to 4K. Also, you can access Google Assistant or Alexa hands-free.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is one of the more affordable streaming devices we recommend. The powerful processor makes it 40% faster than the Fire TV Stick, meaning you’ll experience less lag and shorter loading times when booting up your favorite apps.

It supports Wi-Fi 6 for smoother streaming and Dolby Vision, HDR and HDR10+ for enhanced viewing. Fire TV Sticks offer plenty of options for free live TV streaming, and you can integrate it with your smart home setup to view your front door camera with picture-in-picture. The Alexa voice remote lets you search for content, control your TV’s volume and power, and manage other smart devices on your home network.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+

If you’re unwilling to shell out for our top pick, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is an excellent alternative that’ll run you around $30 less. It boasts the same user-friendly interface that many users love and prefer over its main competitor, the Fire TV Stick, and it comes with a rechargeable remote.

It’s easy to plug in and set up, and as with other top streaming devices, it supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 for improving color depth, clarity and overall picture quality. You get access to over 275 free live TV channels, and the voice control feature works with whatever you prefer, whether it’s Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa. If you misplace your remote, you can say, “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?” to locate it quickly.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV Cube has an octa-core processor, making it the most powerful Amazon streaming device, and it’s a terrific option for those who want total hands-free access to Alexa. For example, the Fire TV Cube lets you control your TV’s power and volume, get live sports scores and weather updates and search for content without a remote.  

It offers Wi-Fi 6E support for smooth streaming and technologies such as Dolby Vision, HDR and Dolby Atmos audio for an immersive viewing and listening experience. It has a built-in HDMI port to hook up a cable box and manage live TV completely hands-free with Alexa. Also, unlike all other Fire TV streaming devices, the Fire TV Cube has 16GB of built-in storage instead of 8GB.

Apple TV 4K 2022

Like the Google Chromecast, the Apple TV isn’t as popular as it was a few years ago. However, the Apple TV 4K 2022 is a solid streaming device, especially for those dedicated to maintaining an ecosystem of Apple devices for fluidity and accessibility.

The Apple TV 4K 2022 supports 4K Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for enhanced picture quality, making it as good as any other high-end streaming device when it comes to pure streaming. It has an A15 Bionic chip that delivers fast performance, and if you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, you can use AirPlay to share photos, videos and other content. The remote is also particularly intriguing, as it has a touch-enabled click pad and offers access to Siri.

How we tested

We thoroughly researched what each top streaming device offers and tested two to determine if they hold up: the Roku Streaming Stick+ and the Nvidia Shield Android TV Pro.

Ease of use 

  • Setup: We tested the entire setup process, from unboxing the streaming devices to plugging them into a TV, setting up a user account and logging into streaming channels and apps.
  • Remote control: We tested the Roku remote dedicated shortcut buttons and the headphone jack for private listening. We tested the playback controls and the voice assistant button for both the Roku and Nvidia Shield.
  • Interface: We evaluated their interfaces to determine how user-friendly and easy it was to find content. We noted any stutters or crashes we experienced with the interface.


  • Picture quality: We paid close attention to the picture quality the devices delivered to our TV, including 4K content, and how crisp and vibrant the images and colors were.
  • Streaming apps: We tested several popular apps, such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video, to determine how fast and responsive they loaded.
  • Upscaling: We tested the Nvidia Shield’s upscaling feature to determine if standard HD content was successfully upgraded to 4K.

Advanced features 

  • Private listening: We checked Roku’s ability to stream audio via the Roku app for smartphones in sync with whatever we watched onscreen.
  • Voice assistants: We tested how well both devices interacted with smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. 

What to know before buying a streaming device

Streaming stick vs. streaming box

There are two popular form factors in streaming devices: small black boxes about the size of a hockey puck and thin sticks roughly the size of a pack of gum. There was a big divide between the two in the early days of streaming sticks, as streaming boxes were more powerful than streaming sticks by a mile. However, the gap has closed, and modern streaming sticks can do almost everything streaming boxes can.

If you want a portable streaming device or something that won’t take up any room around your TV, go for a streaming stick. If you don’t need portability, or if you want a streaming device with niche features like an Ethernet port or game streaming, go for a streaming box.


A user-friendly interface is a must, even if you consider yourself tech-savvy, as it makes it easier to keep track of your apps. Some streaming devices have more convoluted user interfaces which, although they provide recommendations based on your viewing history, can make it a chore to search for content, find your favorite apps or tweak settings.

Purchasing movies and TV shows

If you regularly purchase videos from services like iTunes or Google Play, you’ll want to make sure the streaming device you buy supports them. Google Play and iTunes both limit their TV selection to specific devices. For example, you can only access your iTunes-purchased TV shows on an Apple TV, and TV content from the Google Play store can only be played back on devices like those from Roku or Nvidia.

Multi-device functionality

Streaming devices are great on their own, but if you pair them with another device, such as a tablet or smartphone, you can unlock additional functionality. For example, if you’re an iPhone owner, you can use your iPhone as a remote control or game controller with an Apple TV. Similarly, if you already own one, you can use a Bluetooth game controller with one of Nvidia’s Shield TV boxes.

Streaming device features

Voice assistant compatibility

Most streaming devices have a digital assistant such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant on board. You can access these voice assistants through a dedicated button on the remote most of the time. However, the best streaming devices let you access them hands-free without a remote. You can use a voice assistant for various things, including searching for content, launching apps, managing music playback, checking weather and sports scores, and even controlling other smart devices on your network.

Private listening

Private listening is a feature that lets you connect headphones to your streaming device. Most streaming devices allow you to hook up wireless Bluetooth headphones, but some have remotes with headphone jacks built right into the remote for connecting wired headphones.

Image enhancing

The best streaming devices have features that can significantly improve your viewing experience by enhancing picture quality. Technologies such as HDR, HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision effectively enhance color depth and contrast to improve clarity. Some streaming devices even have an upscaling feature that upgrades standard HD content to 4K.

Gaming and game streaming

Most streaming devices support basic gaming, and playing mobile games on the big screen is more comfortable than playing on your smartphone if you’re at home. That makes streaming devices such as a Fire Stick or Nvidia Shield appealing to gamers, as they offer game streaming and cloud gaming services.

You may be more interested in game streaming if you’re a PC gamer. With game streaming, you can use your streaming device to play PC games from a PC gaming rig on your network. You’ll need a high-powered gaming PC to take advantage of game streaming and a strong Wi-Fi signal, but once you’re all set up, you can play PC games from your streaming device as if your computer were in the same room.


Q. How much should I expect to pay for a streaming device? 

A. You can get a high-quality streaming stick for $30 to $50 with many outstanding features, such as 4K streaming, access to voice assistants and even image-enhancing functions like HDR. However, if you want a more robust streaming device with a powerful processor and premium features like gaming and hands-free voice assistant access, you can expect to pay $100 to $200.

Q. My cable provider offers a streaming device. Should I use that instead?

A. Cable providers are afraid of cord-cutters, so they now offer their own streaming devices to lure back former cable customers. While these devices can be tempting, they don’t deliver the quality of experience you can get from a proper streaming box. Cable-provided streaming boxes are often slow, leaving out key streaming providers and lacking features like HDR or voice assistant compatibility.

Q. Can I play content I purchase in iTunes on a non-Apple streaming device?

A. If you have a movie collection in iTunes of films you’ve purchased, you can connect your iTunes account with MoviesAnywhere. This service lets you play your purchased movie content on any streaming device. However, MoviesAnywhere only applies to movies — not TV shows — so if you’ve bought a lot of TV episodes from iTunes in the past, the only streaming box that will play them is an Apple TV.

Q. Can I use a 4K streaming device on a TV that isn’t a 4K TV?

A. All 4K streaming devices are backward compatible, meaning you can connect one to a standard 1080p HD TV, and everything will look and stream just fine. You won’t be able to enjoy the resolution of a 4K video stream, but content will stream at the highest capability your TV can deliver, provided you have a strong internet connection.