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Buying Guide

The best streaming devices (2024)

We need content. So that means we’re going to need a streaming device to get that content.

Various streaming devices and remotes on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

Thanks to attrition, options are limited when it comes to the best streaming devices out there. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options.

No matter which streaming device you use, you’ll still be able to access your favorite streaming service, whether it be Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Apple TV+, or any of the dozens available. Things have both come a long way since cable TV, and full circle.

But we’re not here to debate the merits of streaming services. We’re here to list out most of the top streaming devices on the market today.

As you’ll see, it’s very much dominated by just a few brands, but they each offer something a little bit different. And within those brands, there are variations of the same device worth checking out.

In the end, the best streaming device is the one that ultimately delivers streaming content to your face.

Best Overall
Best Value
Best for Google Users
Best for Apple Users
Best Embedded TV
Best for Gamers
Best for Prime Subscribers
Best Soundbar
Best Box-Top Box
Best Over-The-Air DVR
Best Overall
Best Value
Best for Google Users
Best for Apple Users
Best Embedded TV
Best for Gamers
Best for Prime Subscribers
Best Soundbar
Best Box-Top Box
Best Over-The-Air DVR
04/22/2024 05:04 pm GMT

Find the best streaming device for you

When looking for the best streaming device for your content needs, it helps to make a list of which streaming subscriptions you have and which digital storefronts you own movies and TV shows on.

While you could pick a streaming device based on this, leaning towards one that runs Amazon’s Fire TV, Google TV, or Apple’s tvOS, the best streaming devices have a content-agnostic approach. That’s mainly Roku devices, so that’s a good place to start.

We prefer to recommend removable streaming devices as they can be reused on multiple displays, and provide more control over your dashboard than embedded streamers. Also, some embedded streamers might not have a native Netflix app, which is a non-starter.

An embedded streamer is built directly into smart TVs, allowing you to access all streaming services without external devices like streaming sticks or boxes. This integration simplifies setup, cuts costs, and reduces clutter, making it an efficient choice for those looking to streamline their entertainment system. Essentially, it ensures that everything you need to start streaming is already part of your television, ready at the push of a button. Ideal for anyone seeking a straightforward, no-fuss way to enjoy to their favorite shows and movies.

Unless you’re repurposing an aging TV, it makes no sense getting a streaming device that can’t display 4K content. And while Dolby audio support is a must, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision shouldn’t be dealbreakers, unless your TV setup supports them.

Roku Streaming Stick (Best Overall)

Roku streaming stick and remote on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Name the streaming service and you’ll find it on the Roku Streaming Stick. Plus, the Roku remote can be programmed to control not only your streaming options, but your TV as well.

The streaming stick supports 4K HD, Dolby Vision, and HDR10 plus, but that’s all dependent on your television or monitor.

The stick itself plugs into an HDMI port, but you may need an extension cable if your TV has its ports surrounded by plastic casing, making it impossible to plug things in. The long-range Wi-Fi means you’ll have nothing but a strong Wi-Fi connection no matter where in the house you are.

Overall, you can’t find a better single-use streaming device than the Roku Streaming Stick.

Best Overall
Roku Streaming Stick Roku Streaming Stick
4.5
$49.99 $39.00

The Roku Streaming Stick has become the go-to streaming device in households around the world.

What We Like:
  • Included remote
  • Long-range Wi-Fi
  • Works with any HDMI ported screen
  • Includes free live TV channels
  • Works with Alexa, Siri, and Hey Google
What We Didn't Like:
  • Sometimes requires restart
  • Might not fit in TVs with hidden ports
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 05:04 pm GMT

Roku Express 4K+ (Best Value)

Roku streaming stick and remote on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

The biggest difference between the Roku Express 4K+ and the Roku Streaming Stick is that this one comes with a little receiver box that hooks to your TV, rather than a stick.

Plus, this one doesn’t have built-in support for Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google. You’d need a separate device for that. Other than that, it provides almost the same service.

And that service includes over 350 free live TV channels and support for 4K, HD, and HDR video. You can also use standard voice control by speaking into the remote, controlling your dozens of installed apps.

At a low price point and offering access to all the familiar streaming programs, the Roku Express 4K+ makes streaming easy.

Best Value
Roku Express 4K+ Roku Express 4K+
4.2
$39.99 $37.94

For the cost and available streaming apps, you really can't find a better value than the Roku Express 4K.

What We Like:
  • Voice remote
  • Supports 4K/HDR
  • Free live TV
  • Voice search
  • Controls TV
What We Didn't Like:
  • Cheap feeling remote
  • Needs receiver to use Alexa, et al.
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:36 pm GMT

Google Chromecast (Best for Google Users)

google chromecast device and remote on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

Apple doesn’t have the monopoly on tech ecosystems, as the Google Chromecast proves. Dipping its entire foot into the streaming wars, Google has manufactured a device that does exactly what its supposed to do, with extra support for Google-centric products.

You’ll have no problem telling the thing what you want to watch with its Google Assistant integration.

There are individual buttons for Netflix and YouTube, though you’d think that’d be YouTube and YouTube TV, but so be it.

The Google Chromecast is one of the more expensive streaming sticks on the market, but that’s all relative. If you prefer Google smart tech, then the Chromecast is the perfect addition for your streaming needs.

Best for Google Users
Google Chromecast with Google TV (4K) Google Chromecast with Google TV (4K)
4.0
$49.99 $46.99

If you have a Google smart home, then a Chromecast is the perfect addition for your streaming needs.

What We Like:
  • Up to 4K HDR support
  • Works with Google Assistant
  • Supports kid profiles
What We Didn't Like:
  • No Alexa or Siri support
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:37 pm GMT

Apple TV 4K (Best for Apple Users)

Apple TV box and remote on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

The selling point of the Apple TV 4K isn’t that it enables you to stream movies and TV shows from your favorite apps, it’s that it’s in the Apple ecosystem.

To the point that you can use your Apple TV 4K receiver to act as a home hub. You can connect it to your other Apple smart home accessories with Thread (and a strong ethernet connection).

But yeah, if you like Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, Apple Music, AirPlay, and Apple TV then this is the streaming device you want. There’s no question about that.

If you live, eat, and breathe Apple devices, then why don’t you already have an Apple TV 4K in your house?

Best for Apple Users
Apple 2022 Apple TV 4K Wi‑Fi + Ethernet with 128GB Storage (3rd Generation) Apple 2022 Apple TV 4K Wi‑Fi + Ethernet with 128GB Storage (3rd Generation)
4.0
$149.00

The most expensive streaming stick on the market, the Apple TV 4K system can serve as your Apple home hub.

What We Like:
  • Siri remote
  • Slick form factor
  • 4K Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support
  • Powered by A15 Bionic chip
What We Didn't Like:
  • Expensive
  • Prioritizes Apple services
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

Roku 55″ Plus Series (Best Embedded TV)

Smart TV displaying live sports streaming interface.
Image: KnowTechie

There are tons of Roku TVs on the market, whether produced by Roku or a third party and the Roku 55″ Plus Series is the former.

Though in all honesty, it’s very similar to most 55″ TVs on the market, but it saves you a step, as Roku is already built-in and is the first thing you see when you turn it on.

This negates the need for a set top box or additional streaming sticks. It still includes the Roku remote with voice remote pro. The TV itself is comparable to others on the market, with 4K resolution and HDR10+ support.

If there was an issue with this TV is it suffers from the same problem as many other modern televisions, motion smoothing during live programs. But other than that, the Roku 55″ Plus Series is a great way to cover two birds with one blanket.

Best Embedded TV
Roku 55" Plus Series 4K Roku 55" Plus Series 4K
4.0
$499.99 $449.99

When you want to save some time and money, you can always purchase a TV embedded with a streaming device.

What We Like:
  • 4K Dolby Vision
  • HDR10+ QLED
  • Voice remote
  • Automatic brightness
  • Roku built-in
What We Didn't Like:
  • Not the best for live sports
  • Internal speakers aren't that great
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:41 pm GMT

Nvidia Shield 4K TV (Best for Gamers)

Black streaming device and remote on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

When reading reviews for the Nvidia Shield 4K TV its clear that users find the video and audio quality a tad better than other streaming sticks. One of the reasons is because Nvidia is in the market of creating great visuals, as we know from its graphics cards.

Gaming is what this device was created for, and somewhere along the way that idea was complimented by making it a streaming content device.

Where this streaming stick differs from the others is with its membership into GeForce Now Cloud Gaming. So not only can you stream Netflix (a huge, unwieldly button on the remote), but you can play over 1000 titles and free to play games.

Gaming servers are 4K HDR, with RTX ON and ray tracing. Plus, the Nvidia Shield 4K TV supports Google Assistant (built-in), Echo, and Alexa.

Best for Gamers
Nvidia Shield Nvidia Shield
4.0
$149.99

Nvidia is known for its gaming hardware, but also offers a very competent streaming stick.



What We Like:
  • 4K HDR content rich
  • Dolby Vision Atmos
  • Super fast
  • Built-in Google Assistant
  • Works with Alexa and Echo
What We Didn't Like:
  • Button layout
  • Battery compartment sticks
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:44 pm GMT

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (Best for Prime Subscribers)

Streaming stick and remote on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

There’s not too much to say about the Amazon Fire TV Stick other than if you have an Amazon Prime account, then you probably have a Fire TV stick. Or at least some other Fire TV device. Or a Kindle.

Regardless, similar to the Apple ecosystem, this streaming device is great if you spend a lot of time taking advantage of Prime benefits.

One nice feature is that the home screen will display the shows you watch and make relevant suggestions under each main streaming service you use. So that saves a step clicking into the app and finding your show.

Other than that, it supports 4K streaming, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+. The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a cheap way to bring your favorite Amazon shows to any TV in the house.

Best for Prime Subscribers
All-new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K All-new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
4.0
$49.99 $29.99

The Fire TV Stick 4K is a compact, user-friendly device that transforms your ordinary TV into a smart one. It boasts a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, 8GB storage, and comes with an Alexa Voice Remote.

What We Like:
  • It's designed for easy setup and use, making it ideal for those who aren't tech-savvy.
  • Despite its tiny frame, it packs a powerful punch with a quad-core 1.7GHz processor and 8GB storage.
  • Included Alexa Voice Remote allows for hands-free control.
  • Listen, it's $29.99 and a steal considering the features it offers.
What We Didn't Like:
  • Heavily pushes Amazon content
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:50 pm GMT

Roku Streambar (Best Soundbar)

Soundbar and remote on purple background.
Image: KnowTechie

One odd theme in the reviews for the Roku Streambar is that it often continues streaming if you turn the TV off and not the Roku. That’s not really a huge deal, but it seems to be a thing that happens.

Aside from that tiny issue, the Roku Streambar combines your need for streaming content with the sound that content delivers.

Really, the soundbar works best as a center channel, if you already have speakers set up. That’s the ideal situation for this soundbar.

Like all Roku devices, it delivers tons of streaming apps and free live TV. If you need extra sound and want to combine your streaming with your sound, the Roku Soundbar is a great buy.

Best Soundbar
Roku Streambar Roku Streambar
4.0
$124.25

Like a Roku TV, the Roku Streambar combines two pieces of entertainment in one.

What We Like:
  • 4K streaming
  • Free live TV
  • Boosted speech clarity
  • Simple sound settings
What We Didn't Like:
  • Not surround
  • Streams when TV is off
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:53 pm GMT

Amazon Fire TV Cube (Best Box-Top Box)

Smart speaker on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

You can plug your gaming consoles, cable box, or webcam into the Amazon Fire TV cube, creating a content hub under your TV.

It’s also much faster than Amazon Fire TV sticks, which is great if you are streaming mostly 4K content. But it also means that you’ll get much more responsive app performance as well.

It supports Wi-Fi 6E, but we’re still in the early stages of that, so that’s a bit of future-proofing. 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos, and Dolby Vision are all supported.

And aside from all the visually streaming content, you also get access to millions of songs, assuming you subscribe to that particular Prime service. This all makes the Amazon Fire TV a 21st century set-top box.

Best Box-Top Box
Amazon Fire TV Cube, Hands-free streaming device with Alexa, Wi-Fi 6E, 4K Ultra HD Amazon Fire TV Cube, Hands-free streaming device with Alexa, Wi-Fi 6E, 4K Ultra HD
4.0
$114.99

The Amazon Fire TV cube kind of operates as a content hub for your living room.

What We Like:
  • Octa-core processor
  • Hands-free Alexa
  • Built-in speakers
  • Wi-Fi 6E support
What We Didn't Like:
  • It's a box
  • Sound quality is meh
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 06:59 pm GMT

Tablo 4th Gen (Best Over-The-Air DVR)

TABLO device on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

There is a lot of content out there and as the Tablo 4th Gen proves, we still like our classic TV. Well, at least perhaps our parents do.

This is the perfect buy for that generation that just wants to watch local news and sports, without the desire for endless streaming content.

You’ll get access to all your local stations, as well as many more broadcast over the air.

And you don’t have to pay any subscription fees. Just plug in the Tablo 4th Gen and get ready for lifestyle stories about cats in trees.

Best Over-The-Air DVR
Tablo 4th Gen 2-Tuner Tablo 4th Gen 2-Tuner
$99.95

For those who just want their local stations and a semblance of pre-tech explosion normalcy, the Tablo 4th Gen is the tuner you need.

What We Like:
  • Pause and record
  • Pairs with any antenna
  • 50+ hours DVR storage
  • No subscriptions needed
What We Didn't Like:
  • No access to modern apps
  • No voice control
  • Still gotta watch commercials
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/22/2024 07:01 pm GMT

How to pick the best streaming device

With the exception of the embedded TV on this list, these streaming devices will work with any TV.

Because they all are just delivery systems for the streaming apps, there aren’t too many technical differences. The most impactful hardware difference will be which version of Wi-Fi is included, as that will affect the streaming quality.

Unless you live and die in the Apple or Android ecosystems, or just want local TV, most devices will suffice.

Naturally, if you already subscribe to Amazon, Google, or Apple stuff, then their proprietary devices are probably a good idea. Or if you want specific support for Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision.

Otherwise, choosing the best streaming device comes down to cost and how big a box you want to open.

Any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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