Best Streaming Media Devices 2021: Reviews and Buying Tips

It’s a great time to buy a streaming media device, whether you’ve cut the cable or are looking to supplement your TV package with an online video service like Netflix, Hulu, or a newcomer like Apple TV + or Disney +. . Compared to the typical smart TV, standalone streamers like Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the new Nvidia Shield TV tend to have larger app selections, faster performance, and more features. And with so much competition among device makers, hardware is getting faster, more capable, and more affordable.

We constantly test all the latest devices, including Roku players, Fire TV devices, Android TV devices, Apple TV, and Chromecast. We review each new generation of hardware and constantly review the selection of software and applications to help you determine which platform is right for you. Here are our picks for the best transmission boxes and sticks, along with all of our latest product reviews. Our recommendations will change over time as new products are released.

Updated October 15, 2021 to add our review of the Roku Streaming Stick 4K. This $ 50 streaming dongle feels fast and smooth, and it supports 4K HDR video with Dolby Vision and HDR10 +. More importantly, it’s a straightforward streaming device packed with useful features, and its improved Wi-Fi receiver helps you get better reception than previous low-cost Roku players. As such, it’s our newest choice of editors for budget-priced 4K HDR streaming devices.

The 4K HDR streaming device with the best value for money

Looking for a simple answer to which 4K streaming player to buy? Here it is. This $ 50 dongle has all the features most people will need in a streamer, including a fast and smooth interface, Dolby Vision and HDR10 +, strong Wi-Fi performance, a compact design, and AirPlay 2 for streaming content. multimedia from Apple devices. Of course, it lacks some advanced features you’ll find on the more expensive Roku Ultra, including Dolby Atmos, a wired Ethernet port, and USB media support, while the high-priced Apple TV 4K adds a bevy of HomeKit features, without mention a Thread. edge router. Still, for the money, the Streaming Stick 4K is excellent value.


You might not expect one of the best budget streaming players to come from Walmart, but it’s true. This 4K player runs Android TV, offering a sleek streaming menu, powerful voice search, and the ability to stream video from your phone. It also has a feature-rich remote that lets you switch between live TV channels, switch inputs, and control your A / V gear. Best of all, it’s only $ 30, which undercuts comparable Roku players, Amazon and Google itself. Just keep in mind that if you need Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, or HDR10 +, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Best high-end media streamer

If the second-gen Apple TV 4K hadn’t cost $ 179, it would have been our top pick in this category. It’s a fabulous piece of hardware with a feature set no competitor can come close to, and its aluminum-wrapped remote is as sleek as it is catchy on the competition. And while our review focuses on its media streaming capabilities, it should also be mentioned that it can also serve as a HomeKit smart home hub and thread edge router. Finally, Apple is unique in its efforts to protect the privacy of its users. But you will have to pay to play.

Other options to consider

the Apple TV HD it’s very expensive at $ 149, even if it comes with the same new remote that ships with the even more expensive Apple TV 4K. This 1080p streamer is a good choice for people who have dedicated themselves to the Apple ecosystem, including the Apple TV + streaming service (you can read our Apple TV + review here), but can’t pull the trigger on the second one. $ 179 generation Apple TV 4K (or that doesn’t have a 4K TV to take advantage of it.

Chromecast with Google TV is an interesting alternative and no longer depends on using your smartphone or tablet as a remote control. Best of all, the hardware now incorporates the Android TV operating system that strives to incorporate all of your streaming options into a single comprehensive guide. It doesn’t live up to its ambition, but it comes very close.

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