It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we have come a long way as far as streaming is concerned. Gone are the days where we had to wait several minutes, and even hours for something to stream properly because our internet connections weren’t strong enough. However, that isn’t the case anymore, the internet in the modern day and age is something that happens to be extremely powerful, and fast; so much so that streaming high quality content has become a lot easier and more accessible.
This has given a chance to several companies to release streaming devices, these devices are connected to a source, and then you can go ahead stream your favourite media with great ease. Take Google’s original Chromecast for instance.
The fact that you could connect that device to any HDMI input that’s available and then stream your favourite content wirelessly to a TV or a monitor was an ingenious idea. However, that was just the start; streaming devices in the modern day and age have come a lot far, they’ve become a lot more popular than they used to be, and in a world where people are moving towards streaming rather than having downloads in their devices, they’re making waves.
At the point of writing, there are countless streaming devices available in the market, each offering something different than the other, while maintaining the basic concept very well. While people who have been streaming content for years are already familiar with these devices, the concept for new comers is something that is rather confusing and alarming.
That’s why they get confused when they are in the market looking for a streaming device, there are so many options available that an average consumer usually gets baffled. Keeping that in mind, in order to help the consumers, make the right decision, we’re going to be looking at some of the best streaming devices that are available in the market at the moment.
So, let’s not waste more time, and start looking at all the devices that are available in the market, shall we?
Keep in mind that some of the devices that we will be reviewing are going to be by the same manufacturers, but will have some differences between one and other, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Now that we have it out of the way, we can go ahead and have a look; shall we go ahead.
Top 10 Best Streaming device 2018
1. Apple TV 4th Generation – Buy From Apple Store Rating 3/5
Apple has always been known as a company who’s done a great many things in the tech industry, and while they’re considered mavericks by a lot of people, the fact that they dedicate themselves towards their devices, and make sure that they do as much as possible is nothing short of admiring.
Apple didn’t take too long to jump the streaming devices bandwagon, and came out with their own Apple TV, an amazing streaming device that was way ahead of its time. What many thought might be the one hit wonder turned out to be way more than that; the company released 3 more revisions after the original.
Today, we are going to be looking at the 4th generation of Apple TV, something that’s way more sophisticated, and a lot better than the previous generations as well. The concept of Apple TV is to make sure that it acts like a hub for all the entertainment channels that are available in the market.
The device gives you the option to choose from Apple’s own content providers, or if that’s not what you want, you can always go for other services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and others. Keep in mind that these services aren’t provided to you for free, and you’ll have to pay for them separately.
The device also supports audio streaming through Apple music, but keep in mind that that’s the only way to stream music. Should you want to stream music through some other provider, you’re out of luck. If you’re a fan of Apple’s ecosystem, the good news is that there are some other apps that you can use as well; both first party, and third party apps are available.
The Apple TV also supports AirPlay with iOS devices, the tvOS is certainly a huge improvement over the predecessors, and last but not the least, the fact that there’s support for third party apps is definitely a bonus.
However, you need to keep in mind that not everything’s good with Apple TV; for starters, Siri is not as good as it is on the other Apple devices, Apple’s own amount of content isn’t that much, and while the Bluetooth remote is certainly pretty fancy, it needs some work in order to become relevant.
All in all, in a world where every other company’s trying to create the perfect streaming device, Apple TV is just another competitor. It gets a lot of things right, but at the same time, there are a lot of caveats as well.
- Supports AirPlay with iOS devices.
- You can use 3rd party apps.
- tvOS has come a long way from where it started.
- Siri feels incomplete as compared to other Apple devices.
- Apple doesn’t have much content of its own to stream.
- The Bluetooth remote is a clever idea, but needs a lot of improvements.
2. Google Chromecast – Rating 3.5/5
It’s safe to say that almost everyone in the tech world is well aware of Google’s Chromecast, the amazing streaming device has been in the market for quite some time, and judging by how things are going, it’s only getting better. For those who don’t know, Google released the original Chromecast back in 2013, however, ever since that time, the company has been releasing new and improved versions of the device.
The recent version of the Chromecast comes in attractive colours, but a facelift isn’t the only thing Google changed. As a matter of fact, the overall device has become a lot faster, and the overall design language has become better as well.
Chromecast’s implementation was always clever; you just plug it in to an HDMI input, and you can go ahead and start streaming your data. The device is actually small enough, so it’ll easily hide behind your television, and the flat, sturdy wire ensures that it won’t snap.
The key selling point of the Google Chromecast was always the low price, for those who don’t’ know, it’s perhaps the cheapest streaming devices there are in the market, and while many people think that being cheap is not a good idea, it’s actually very useful, since it’s accessible to a lot more people than many would know. We can guarantee that the subtle updates that Google made in the Chromecast don’t go unnoticed, the device is as good as it can get even with those rather small updates.
However, keep in mind that there are some caveats that we must point out in order to keep everything fair; for starters, you need to know that the device doesn’t have a dedicate remote to it, there’s also no native support for Amazon Instant Video, and if you want to play games using that device, there aren’t many available in the market.
If you’re okay with these completely subjective shortcomings, then we can assure you that the Google Chromecast is definitely a device you may want to invest in.
- Streaming has become noticeably faster.
- Design is clever and versatile.
- Extremely budget friendly.
- Doesn’t natively support Amazon Instant Video.
- No remote control.
- Doesn’t have many games.
3. Google Chromecast Ultra – Rating 4/5
We admit it that the original Google Chromecast is definitely an amazing streaming device, we’ve praised it for its speedy streaming capabilities, clever design, and a really pocket friendly price tag. However, if you’re someone who needs more than just full HD streaming, and you still want Google’s trusted name with you, then you have come to the right place.
Say hello to the Google Chromecast Ultra, it’s made by Google, it’s built on the same foundation as the original Chromecast, however, it comes with a number of very noticeable improvements, making it a worthy successor for those who are looking for the extra oomph.
For starters, the device looks and feels a lot more premium as compared to the original, however, it’s not a beauty pageant and there are better things that we need to consider. If you’re wondering about the improvements and the differences, then you should know that the Chromecast Ultra is capable of streaming content in 4K with HDR, provided the fact that you have device capable of that.
In addition to that, another good thing is that the Chromecast Ultra comes with a built-in Ethernet adapter should you feel the need to connect to the internet and stream content from there. Last but not the least, the device has full integration with Google Home, making your job a lot easier when it comes to using it.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are some very obvious downsides that we wish weren’t there; for starters, the Chromecast Ultra doesn’t have support for Amazon Instant Video, something that was missing from the original as well, there’s no remote control, and last but not the least, there’s no interface whatsoever. The entire device is controlled using the Google Home app.
If you’re okay with these caveats, and you’re looking for a cheap streaming device that can stream in 4K with HDR, then the Google Chromecast Ultra is the way to go.
- Dead simple to setup.
- Supports 4K with HDR.
- Comes with an Ethernet adapter.
- No support for Amazon Instant Video.
- No remote control.
- There’s no interface.
4. Nvidia Shield TV – Rating 4.5/5
Generally, when we talk about Nvidia, we talk about how amazing they are with their graphic cards. However, today’s talk is completely different from what the green team has to offer. Today, we are having a look at their Nvidia Shield TV, probably one of the greatest streaming devices that are available in the market the moment; a bit expensive, but really, really good.
What’s so special about the Nvidia Shield TV? Well, for starters it’s one of the very few streaming devices that offer almost every single streaming service, even Amazon Video, in addition to that, it allows you to stream at 4K with HDR. It also serves as a rather versatile gaming platform, has a powerful hardware to put, along with a really good controller as well.
There’s voice search, and proper interactivity, the device can be used from a controller, or a remote, the experience remains the same, and it’s due to get the support for Google Assistant as well. All of these amazing things for a somewhat steep price make the Nvidia Shield TV a great streaming device for people who want to invest money in something powerful.
The Nvidia Shield TV can also double up as a NAS, has native support for Kodi, has capabilities for Plex server capability, and HDHomeRun integration. These amazing features make this brilliant device even better. Sure, you’re paying a premium, but when you’re getting so much amazing things with it, the question no longer remains about the money.
However, keep in mind that pretty much like every other device in the market, it doesn’t come without its caveats. For starters, the price may be off putting for some of the potential buyers, as compared to the competition, there isn’t much content to stream unless you want to use some other services. The hardware is powerful, but not enough to run top tier games, however, you can stream games from your Nvidia powered PC.
- Has ton of features to boot.
- Supports streaming in 4K and HDR.
- Can play games, and even stream AAA titles from your PC.
- Has support for a lot of apps out of the box including Amazon Video.
- Powerful hardware.
- There isn’t a lot of 4K HDR content to run.
5. Roku Premier+ – Rating 5/5
Not a lot of people know but when it comes to streaming media, there aren’t many companies that are as good as Roku, or even come close to the reputation that the company has amassed for the past few years. For those who don’t know, Roku has been in the business since 2002, and in case you are wondering about the weird name, Roku is a Japanese word which means “6”, and the number 6 represents Roku; the 6th company that was started by the CEO.
Ever since its arrival and mainstream success, Roku has become the go to streaming device for a lot of people; their media streaming partners have been providing over the top content for years, and people have been buying their devices like hot cakes.
The Roku Premiere+ is one of their high end devices that are aimed towards people who want the best of both worlds. The device allows the users to access plethora of 4K, and HDR content on their televisions, as a matter of fact, the amount of content that’s provided by Roku Premiere+ is a lot more than what competition has to offer.
In case you are wondering, it even has native support for Amazon’s streaming services, meaning that you can stream from whatever source you want without any issues whatsoever. Moving on, another important thing that you need to know is that the Roku Premiere+ comes with a fully-fledged remote control as well; something that a lot of other devices in the market don’t have.
Another great thing is that Roku’s ecosystem is one of the most fleshed out ecosystems we have had the chance to see; it offers a lot more content and apps than the competition, and has its own interface as well, making it a lot easier for the users to navigate through them.
With so many positive aspects, we tried really hard to look for some deal breakers, but couldn’t come across any. Roku has made sure that their device provides the best of both worlds without really breaking the customer’s bank. The only real downside we came across was that some of the apps weren’t as polished as compared to the other counterparts.
- Offers streaming in 4K and HDR.
- Supports a lot of applications.
- Offers multiple platforms to stream your videos.
- Really amazing ecosystem is a treat to use.
- Controller is simple, intuitive, and cleverly implemented.
- Some of the applications available on the ecosystem aren’t as polished as the other.
6. Roku Streaming Stick – Rating 3.5/5
The good thing about Roku is that as a company, they care about the needs and wants of all of their consumers, that is the reason why the Roku Streaming Stick actually exists. In case you are wondering, this is Roku’s answer to people who just want something smaller, and easily portable. Now keep in mind that this is one of the most affordable streaming devices available in the market, and despite not having 4K capabilities, it still has a lot to offer.
For starters, the device is extremely portable, and also comes with a remote control, this is rather surprising since you’re paying so less for so many features. It’s important to know that Roku supports a wide range of streaming services including Amazon, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and a handful of others. The device is one of the most responsive streaming devices that we have seen till date, meaning that from streaming to the interface, everything is very polished, and well done.
The updated app also lets you listen to the device using your phone’s headphone jack, making it so much better than some of the competitor devices that lack some of these amazing features. We’ve already praised Roku’s ecosystem, and it takes the cake again; it offers a lot of apps as compared to what others do, and it’s very, very polished, making the overall experience buttery smooth. The ecosystem also offers an amazing search and customization option, something that isn’t present in any other device that we have seen lately.
At this time, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone’s aware of the amazing devices that Roku’s been giving us, and the Roku Stick isn’t different. However, keep in mind that there some caveats to how this streaming device is. For starters, some apps aren’t as good as the others, and it makes it seem weird, because it’s super evident, and there’s lastly, there’s no Ethernet port, meaning that the entire streaming completely depends on your wireless connection.
If you’re okay with these subjective shortcomings, then the Roku Stick is a wonderful streaming device that will be worth your money.
- Doesn’t cost a lot of money.
- Offers a lot of amazing services.
- Great ecosystem with ton of customizations.
- Comes with a control.
- Super portable.
- Doesn’t come with an Ethernet port.
- Some apps aren’t as well designed as the others.
7. Google Chromecast Audio – Rating 3/5
It’s pretty safe to say that everyone is aware of the fact that streaming isn’t something that’s only limited to videos. As a matter of fact, you can stream audio too, and that is something a lot of people actually prefer. This is the exact reason why Google came up with the Google Chromecast Audio, built on the same foundation that made the original Chromecast such a huge success.
With that said, the Chromecast Audio strictly features on audio streaming services, meaning that you can stream pretty much whatever audio files you want from all of your Android devices as well as the iOS devices, the choice is entirely yours.
While the support for Android is as good as it can get, the support on the iOS side of things; for starters, Amazon Music, iTunes, and Apple Music are not supported on the iOS devices, and the device doesn’t have its own audio output, meaning that you’ll have to provide the speakers.
The Google Chromecast Audio also supports multi-room music playback, digital, as well as analog outputs. The Chromecast Audio also supports Google Home along with the voice commands, so you can actually ask the Chromecast Audio to stream your favourite tracks without really having to do it yourself.
Keep in mind that the Chromecast Audio is basically a streaming device that is built for streaming audio, it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and works with the majority of devices in the market. In simpler words, it gets the job done as long as the tasks you’re throwing at it are compatible. So, keeping that in mind, we honestly don’t have a lot to complaint.
Sure, there are some downsides like limited support for non-Android devices, but if you do own an Android device, it shouldn’t be any issue.
- It’s extremely affordable.
- Really, really easy to setup.
- Works with majority of devices, and music services.
- Supports a lot of features.
- Services like iTunes, Apple Music and Amazon Music are not supported on iOS.
8. Amazon Fire TV – Rating 4/5
We are heading towards the end of the list, and there’s no shortage of amazing products that are available. Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world also has a huge part in providing the ability to stream content; in case you are wondering, the Fire TV is something that has been around for quite some time, and it has notably become one of the top streaming devices.
For starters, it does support 4K content, and has really good hardware, meaning that it’s extremely responsive. The Fire TV also has an improved voice search feature thanks to the Alexa voice assistant which keeps getting better and better. Another good thing is that the Fire TV uses its own ecosystem, allowing it to make the overall experience for the user a lot smoother.
However, you need to be aware of the fact that since it’s an Amazon device, it heavily relies on everything that’s provided by Amazon, even the content is heavily reliant on Amazon’s own services, and that is something that can be considered a downside in many cases, especially when you want to use different services for streaming.
Although the powerful hardware allows the device to be super snappy, there’s on weird thing and that is the stutter that creeps in every time you’re switching in-between apps. If you’re okay with that, and the fact that you’ll have to heavily use Amazon’s own services, then the Amazon Fire TV is an amazing streaming device that is worth your money.
- Offers streaming in 4K.
- Has powerful hardware.
- Really fast and responsive.
- Comes with a remote control.
- Amazon’s ecosystem works really well alongside the Alexa voice assistant.
- There’s occasional stutter that creeps in.
- The Fire TV relies heavily on the resources provided by Amazon, not something everyone will prefer.
9. Roku Ultra – Rating 4/5
Yes, should you be wondering, we have another Roku device on the list, as a matter of fact, even the last device of this roundup is going to be something from Roku. No, we’re not being paid by the company, we are just letting people know that Roku has served as one of the best brands when it comes to streaming devices in the market, especially when it comes to having so many devices for so many people.
The Roku Ultra is more of a premium, and more expensive streaming device that is available in the market; in case you are not already aware, the device is made for streaming 4K and HDR content, however, keep in mind that the content is still somewhat uncommon in the modern day and age.
Keeping that in mind, the good thing is that the that much like majority of Roku devices, this one does come with a remote control, as well as the support for Amazon’s video app. Roku’s own ecosystem still remains one of the best, and does offer a lot of apps that you can download, and use without any worries whatsoever.
Another great thing about the Roku Ultra is that it comes with an optical audio output, meaning that you can use your old receivers with this modern hardware, without any issues whatsoever. Something that we really admire.
As for the downside, the only downside is something that we faced in almost all the Roku devices; some of the apps in the ecosystem look really good, and polished, while the others are not as good. So, keeping that in mind.
- Offers amazing streaming capabilities.
- Plenty of shows and other content available in 4K/HDR.
- Comes with a remote control.
- Can connect to sound bars, and older receivers.
- Ecosystem remains one of the best.
- Some of the apps aren’t as polished as the others.
10. Roku Express+ – Rating 3/5
As we’ve already told you before, the last device on our list is going to be from Roku. Keeping that in mind, we don’t think there needs to be an introduction; say hello to the Roku Express+, a smaller, more affordable device from Roku that can still be trusted as well as some of the other devices in the market. However, can it actually perform? Well, you’d be glad to know that it happens to be a great performer, however, it has a market of its own.
Now keep in mind that this is somewhat different than the other streaming devices that we have had the chance to look at. For starters, this streaming device actually comes with analog input as well as output, and in case you don’t know what that means, the analog IO is actually there to let you connect the device to the older televisions with ease.
The device is extremely easy to use, and in addition to that, it also comes loaded with a slew of streaming apps that are always ready to use without any issues at all. With that said, the streaming device is made for people who are not willing to spend a lot of money, and it’s certainly a good thing.
However, there are some downsides, and you need to keep those in mind. For starters, you need to know that the streaming device is somewhat slower than the competition, however, that is only the case when it comes to Netflix, rest of the apps work just fine.
If this isn’t something huge, then you shouldn’t be bothered with the Roku Express+ as it happens to be a wonderful device for streaming.
- Really budget friendly.
- Comes loaded with majority of streaming apps.
- Has analog I/O for older televisions.
- Netflix is somewhat slower on this device.
It’s safe to say that the market is overly dominated by company’s like Google and Roku, however, keep in mind that it still didn’t make it easy for us to pick a winner. We have tested some of the best devices that were available in the market, however, only one can be the ultimate victor.
In this case, the Roku Premier+ takes the cake when it comes to being the best streaming device in the market, it’s closely competed with Nvidia Shield TV. Keeping that in mind, we should let you know that it wasn’t an easy job coming to a conclusion, but it’s really important to pick the best device.