The best streaming devices you can buy in 2023

If you are looking for a new streaming device, you probably want to make your home theater better. Maybe you’ve been binge-watching on your phone or computer, or maybe the operating system that came with your TV just isn’t cutting it anymore. Streaming dongles like the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite and set-top boxes like the Apple TV 4K are everywhere now, but it can be hard to figure out what makes them different. Also, they’re not the only devices that can bring Netflix or Peacock to your TV screen. Let’s go over all of your choices and tell you what we think is the best streaming device you can buy.

Who needs a device that can stream?
You might not need a standalone streaming gadget if you only use a couple of streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Most new TVs come with a small number of apps, which usually include the most popular streaming services. Some TVs and soundbars have Roku or Fire TV built in, which means you don’t need a separate device to access a wide range of apps.

But if your TV is older, adding a streaming stick is much cheaper than buying a new smart TV. Also, a dedicated streaming device usually gives you access to a lot more streaming services and apps, and the way the material is presented is usually easier to understand. Some devices also have better ways to find, like voice control. Live TV services like Sling TV and Hulu Live aren’t always available on basic TV interfaces, so this kind of streaming devices will be especially helpful for cord cutters.

How to choose a gadget to stream
When picking a media streaming device, the most important things to think about are the platform, the price, and what you already have at home. Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Apple TV, and Google TV, which is an add-on for Android TV, are the most popular streaming devices right now. All of them have a similar range of streaming services. The main difference between them is how to use them. Roku, for example, is set up in a simple grid, while Fire TV and Google TV focus on making individual suggestions.

Streaming gadgets usually start at around $30 and can cost as much as $200. Sticks or dongles are usually cheaper than set-top boxes, which tend to be more expensive. If you need Ethernet connection, a streaming box is a better choice than a dongle. Some models also have extra features like Ethernet ports and faster wireless links. (For example, Roku’s set-top boxes have Dolby Vision but not its sticks.) A set-top box is also better than older TV processors because it is faster and easier to update over time.

There are also some changes in how they look. For speech commands, for example, Fire TV has Alexa and Google TV has Google Assistant. In fact, when it comes to Amazon, Google, and Apple devices, it’s best to choose one that fits into an ecosystem you’ve already selected. So, if you already use iTunes a lot, it would make more sense to get an Apple TV than a Fire TV. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, of course. If you stream shows more than you buy or rent them, the environment question isn’t as important. We’ll talk about each method in more depth later in this guide.

Here are some suggestions for the best streaming sticks and other choices that won’t break the bank. We also gave ideas for set-top boxes and other gadgets made for games.

Best streaming stick: Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K, along with older versions like the Streaming Stick+, has been a favorite of Engadget for a long time, and for good reason: it has a lot of features in a small and affordable package. It has the most streaming TV choices and is easy to use. All you have to do to set it up is plug the HDMI wire into your TV and connect the power cable to the USB port on your TV. After that, you can use the TV interface and Roku remote to finish the rest of the installation process.

As was already said, Roku has a lot of material. The company says that you can choose from more than 500,000 movies and TV shows to watch. The global search function on Roku is another useful feature. It lets you find shows on different platforms without giving one platform more weight than another. Amazon’s streaming app, on the other hand, gives more weight to search results from its own Prime video service.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is great for people who want to watch from Macs or iOS devices because it also works with Apple AirPlay 2. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K also lets you watch in 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision.

We especially like the private-listening mode on Roku, which lets you watch shows while wearing headphones. This is helpful if you don’t want to bother other people in your home. The Roku TV app, which is available for both iOS and Android, lets you do this. The app can also be used instead of the real radio control. This is especially helpful for logging in and entering passwords, which is much easier to do with a smartphone computer than with the remote.

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K comes with a remote, but you can also use your voice to look for your favorite shows, change the volume, or turn on closed captioning.

Consider getting the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ if you want a better remote. It has all of the same features as the Streaming Stick 4K, plus the recharging Roku Voice Remote Pro. “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?” will help you find your lost remote. It has a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don’t need the app to use the secret listening mode. The Roku Voice Remote Pro costs almost $20 more than the Streaming Stick 4K, so unless you really need that fancy remote, we suggest the Streaming Stick 4K instead.

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