The Best Streaming Devices Ranked

Cutting the cord is happening in a big way and streaming media devices loaded with apps and features are better than ever. It’s allowing customers more freedom than ever before in how they watch and consume media and entertainment. Every device has its unique merits and the best streamers have voice search and many apps beyond standbys like Netflix or Hulu. Then there’s the next hot thing in streaming devices, ultra high-definition 4K or UHD content. While 4K and UHD compatible tvs are on the extreme high end, it’s undoubtedly the the future of tv watching and the streamer’s 4K/UHD capabilities are something to consider. With so many choices and new apps launching every month, sorting out which device has which app can be confusing as hell. Fortunately we’ve found this handy chart that breaks it down: App Breakdown. With that in mind, we’ve sorted through the mass of info and distilled it down (like a fine, fine whiskey) to everything you need to know about the best devices on the market.

4. GOOGLE CHROMECAST
PRICE: $35
Plug Chromecast into the HDMI port on your TV and use your mobile device to open apps to access your favorite programs. Your phone basically becomes the remote control. If you don’t want to spend much—Chromecast is the cheapest device reviewed—but want to stream from the major services, Chromecast is your best bet. But Chromecast lacks important features like voice control, and using your smartphone to enter a movie name means using your its tiny keyboard. By the time you’re finished finding your entertainment, your Chromecast may already be a device you hate.

NUMBER OF CHANNELS: +1,000
STREAMING SERVICES: Hulu Plus, HBO Now, HBO Go, Netflix, YouTube
VOICE SEARCH: No

PROS:
Affordable price
Ideal for travelers who want to stream their own content to a hotel TV

CONS:
Lacks physical remote control
Not 4K compatible

3. AMAZON FIRE TV
PRICE: $100
The latest Amazon Fire TV includes 4K Ultra HD capability. Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, allows you to simply search for a movie by telling the remote the title you want to watch. Despite offering major players like Netflix, HBOGO, Showtime, and Hulu, Fire TV is built around what you can get out of Amazon. Even voice search is Amazon-centric. If you’re already in the Amazon Prime nexus and comfortable with it’s offerings it’s a good choice, but you won’t be able to stream every movie on all the platforms the way a more flexible option might.

NUMBER OF CHANNELS: 1,000+
STREAMING SERVICES : Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, HBO Go, HBO Now, YouTube, Showtime
VOICE SEARCH: Yes

PROS:
4K high-definition programming
Over 800 games for gaming

CONS:
Heavily favors Prime subscribers

2. APPLE TV
PRICE: $149 (32GB); $199 (64GB)
The latest Apple TV heavily relies on Siri, its voice control on its remote. If you’re heavily invested in Apple hardware and iTunes, this is your best bet. There are downsides, though. Streaming services including Amazon Prime and Google Play are not supported on Apple TV. Also, Apple TV doesn’t support 4K, which is why it’s not on the top of our list.

NUMBER OF CHANNELS: 1,000+
STREAMING SERVICES: Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, HBO Go, HBO Now, YouTube, Showtime
VOICE SEARCH: Yes

PROS: Streams Apple Music Easy integration with Apple devices

CONS: Not 4K compatible Limiting if not in Apple universe

1. ROKU
PRICE: $130
The Roku 4—Apple TV’s main competitor—is equipped with a unique voice search that allows you to get content results by title, actor, and director. In addition, Roku comes with some cool features like a neat remote finder and headphone (included) capability. Roku also rivals Apple TV’s app selection. In addition to all the popular apps, there are literally hundreds of channels, both for free and for a fee, that cater to different languages and regions. Its ease of use and 4K capability makes the Roku soar above all the other devices, making it our top choice.

NUMBER OF CHANNELS: +2,500
STREAMING SERVICES: Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime
VOICE SEARCH: Yes

PROS:
Doesn’t favor one content provider over others (unlike Amazon)
Has Amazon features (unlike Apple)

CONS:
No Google Play features