TV Streaming Devices
Due to a rise in consumer demand for streaming TV, the market for dedicated streaming devices has increased significantly and we now seem to have more choices than ever when it comes to home entertainment. With these ever growing choices it's becoming difficult to find the device that best suits your needs. Below are our top streaming device choices.
Roku 3, the latest innovation from Roku is arguably the best device for streaming TV, movies and more. If you're looking for a streaming solution that gives you the greatest variety of programming options, you can't go wrong with the Roku 3. Streaming TV and movies with this device gives you access to 2,000 channels, more than what you'll get from most satellite and cable companies. The reason why Roku 3 opens such an endless array of possibilities for streaming movies and TV is that the device is not affiliated with any of the major content distributors. As a result, you're free to stream from your preferred platform or from all of them.
With Roku 3, you get access to all of the most popular apps for streaming, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Google Play Movies and TV, Hulu and HBO Go. You can also access TV streaming apps like ESPN and music apps like Spotify and Pandora. There are even speciality apps that allow you to stream from very unique niches. Ultra compact, the system is very easy to utilize, and it provides 1080p picture quality. The remote included with the system even makes it possible for you to plug in headphones and listen to programs without disturbing the rest of your household. Plus, all you need to do is make a single HDMI connection to get started.
The compact Roku Stick comes with almost every notable feature present in the ever popular Roku 3, for half the price. The Roku Streaming stick is an HDMI dongle that plugs into an HDTV and with its built-in wireless connectivity offers you access to a host of streaming channels, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Now TV, in stunning 1080P HD. It boasts an onscreen interface with the added capability of a cross-platform search function which combs through several major movie and TV services to find content.
While it's fractionally more expensive than Chromecast, the Roku streaming stick currently has access to over 2,000 channels and more than 250,000 movies and TV episodes, a remote control (without the headphone port offered with Ruku 3) and some Chromecast-style mirroring capabilities. In addition to the remote you can install the free Roku app for Android and iOS and use all your mobile devices. The Roku stick is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your TV smarter but Chromecast might be the one with the greater potential in the near future.
If you want to be able to do more than just stream with your streaming device, the Amazon Fire TV may just be the right choice for you. In addition to allowing you to stream TV and movies in 1080p high definition, this console from Amazon gives you access to a huge selection of games, more than what you'll find from competitors. Amazon even makes a remote that coordinates with the system to make game play feel like you're using a game system rather than a TV streaming device.
When you switch on the Amazon Fire TV unit, you're taken to the Amazon user interface, which allows you to pay for streaming TV and movies. The catalogue is exhaustive; you'll be hard pressed to find popular titles that are missing. If you have an Amazon Prime account, some of the content that's available is free of charge. When you stream movies, TV shows etc, not included in the free content, you have the option to rent or purchase some titles. In addition to Amazon Prime, the Amazon Fire TV unit can be used to access other apps, including Netflix and Hulu Plus. The unit also has a handy voice search feature and is one of the fastest of the streaming models on the market.
Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick packs many of the features of Amazon Fire TV into a compact dongle that connects right to your television's HDMI port. Unlike some competitors, the streaming stick sits flush against the television, making it a compact solution that isn't likely to even be noticeable once it's in place. Another advantage the device has over other dongle devices for streaming movies and TV is that it comes with its own remote, making it popular with those who don't want to use their smartphones to control their televisions.
Like Amazon Fire TV, the Amazon Fire Stick uses the Amazon user interface. Having its own operating system is a major positive point, Chromecast won't access anything unless it's streamed via your smartphone. From the interface you can stream content from a catalogue of thousands of titles, many of which are available for free, while other content requires you to purchase or rent. With the dongle, you can access a number of other apps, including Netflix and Hulu Plus. You can also gain access to many games, and there is a remote available for purchase separately to enhance game play.
Similar to the Fire and Roku Stick, Google’s Chromecast is an HDMI device powered by USB, which plugs into a power point (with an adapter) or straight into your TV, if it has a USB port. It acts as a receiver for streaming media via all your Android or iOS devices, using the Google Chrome browser. The content is “cast” to the stick from compatible apps such as Netflix, it then connect directly to the service through an internet connection. Your Android or iOS device then acts as a remote control.
Developers release more Chromecast-compatible apps all the time, and it's capable of streaming YouTube content, Netflix and any Google Play movies, TV shows, or music you may have purchased. Other apps that have also added support for Android, iPhone and iPad include BT Sport, Wuaki.tv, BBC iPlayer, NOW TV, Deezer, Blinkbox and Plex, to name but a few. The Plex application will enable you to stream your own content through your device. Google Chromecast is cheap and extremely easy to use, it's biggest drawback is that it doesn't offer a true TV interface or remote control.
If you're a devoted Apple user, Apple TV is a streaming solution that will let you use your Apple devices and your iTunes library in a whole new way. With the device, you can stream any content that you've purchased from iTunes on your computer, iPhone or iPad to your television, so you'll have the ability to stream movies, TV shows, music and more and enjoy them on a bigger screen. In addition, you can make purchases on your television via the Apple TV user interface and stream from various content including TV, music and movies on demand.
With the help of some Apple apps, you can add some innovative features to the Apple TV streaming device. Apple AirPlay allows you to view anything that appears on your Mac computer, PC or iOS mobile device on your television. You can also use the iOS remote app and utilize your tablet or smartphone like a remote when you're streaming TV and movies. A traditional remote is included as well. In addition to streaming movies, shows and content from your computer and mobile devices, Apple TV makes it possible to use certain Internet sites like YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo on your television. The biggest drawback to Apple TV is that there are a fewer number of apps, somewhat limiting viewing possibilities.
Google Nexus Player
Created for Google by ASUS, Google Nexus Player is one of the newer TV streaming devices on the market that is best suited for anyone who uses Android platform mobile devices. With the streaming system, you can use Google Cast to view any web pages, videos or music on the screen of an Android device on the large screen of your television, giving you the ability to surf the web, listen to music and stream movies and TV shows that you have stored on your devices or can access online.
The default site for purchasing streaming content on the Google Nexus Player is the Google Play store, which does have a wide selection of titles. In addition to streaming movies, TV shows, etc, you can access a number of games on the device, and there is a gaming remote available to make game play just like using a standard gaming console. The Google Nexus Player allows you to stream TV and movies with a number of popular apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus; however, you cannot stream from Amazon or from HBO Go, two of the most popular app options out there today. Another downside of the Google Nexus Player is that it doesn't have an Ethernet port, which can make for slower performance compared to some competitors.
When contemplating streaming devices, the one device that can be easily overlooked is a game console. In today's ever growing market of dedicated streaming devices, it's easy to forget that game consoles aren't just for gaming and double up as one of the more capable streaming devices out there. It's probably not worth purchasing a game console just to stream TV, but if you also wish to play the latest games as well as watch Blu-rays, a game console is almost certainly the right investment.
Game consoles are among the most popular devices for streaming media to your TV. Top choices include both the PS3 and PS4 and the Xbox 360. The systems have rapidly become jack-of-all-trades media centres, conveniently offering you access to a multitude of programming from big names like NFL Network, Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus and HBO Go. The downside is even most last-gen consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360 still cost upwards of $150 if you purchase them new.