Best Streaming Devices 2021
Best for MostPrice:$48.00*Internal storage:256 MB
Best for Prime MembersPrice:$49.99*Internal storage:8 GB
Best FeaturesPrice:$199.99*Internal storage:16 GB
Best User ExperiencePrice:$49.99*Internal storage:8 GB
Best for Apple FansPrice:$179.99–$208.55*Internal storage:32 GB–64 GB
If you don’t have a smart TV or want a way to watch your favorite streaming services on your big screen, you’ll want a streaming device.
You can get all your TV shows, movies, apps, and games in one place and you’ll be saving money on your cable bill. And if you’re new to the streaming world, allow us to help with our guide on how to stream TV.
There are new and updated streaming devices coming out every year, so we’re going to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
|Device||Price*||Max resolution||Internal storage||Learn more|
|Roku Streaming Stick+||$48.00||4K Ultra HD + HDR||256 MB||View on Amazon|
|Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K||$49.99||4K + HDR10+||8 GB||View on Amazon|
|NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro||$198||4K HDR||16 GB||View on Amazon|
|Chromecast with Google TV||$49.99||4K||8 GB||View on Best Buy|
|Apple TV 4K||$179.99–$208.55||4K HDR||32 GB–64 GB||View on Amazon|
|Amazon Fire TV Cube||$119.99||4K Ultra HD + HDR10+||16 GB||View on Amazon|
|Roku Ultra||$92.00||4K HDR||Expandable USB storage||View on Amazon|
|NVIDIA SHIELD||$149.99||4K HDR||8 GB||View on Amazon|
*Data effective 11/16/2020. Amazon.com List Prices (as of 11/16/2020 11:00 AM MST)
HDR means “High Dynamic Range,” which means you get more contrast between brights and darks. Basically, things stand out better.
With these streaming devices, you can talk to Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant for voice control, or use your smartphone or tablet as a remote controller and screen. Apple will integrate your iStuff easily, Amazon Prime Members can get Prime Video with the Fire TV, and so on.
We’ve highlighted who we think each pick is best for based on connectivity, picture quality, and voice control.
Roku Streaming Stick+ is the best option for most
Roku is affordable and has lots of streaming apps for your entertainment
- 4K HDR
- 256 MB storage
- HDR10 support
- Voice remote with TV power and volume buttons
- USB powered
- Wi-Fi antenna in power cable
Roku has most of the streaming apps you need
And you can use your voice remote to get what you want quicker. Just say “Philo” or “STARZ” and the app will open up on your screen.
You’ll get a smooth interface and easy searchability
Roku doesn’t connect with Google, Amazon, or Apple, so Roku’s interface makes searching content across all platforms easier.
With some of our other picks, you’re likely to get frustrated finding workarounds or transporting stuff you’ve already purchased from other companies. Plus, you can see prices for every platform where Jumanji: The Next Level is available.
Great for wall-mounted TVs and portability
Since Roku Streaming Stick plugs into a USB port on your TV or computer, it doesn’t require plugging in a power adapter or HDMI cable, so you avoid cable clutter or cleanup.
You can also take your Streaming Stick with you on vacation for when you’re relaxing in the hotel at the end of the day.
What we don’t like: Lack of iTunes migration
Roku does support the Apple TV app, but unfortunately, your iTunes movies and music aren’t coming with you—at least not without workarounds that don’t seem entirely legit.
Apple fans will have to dish out a bit more for the Apple TV 4K than for the Roku, but the Apple TV will sync up with your stuff easier and result in a more connected home.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is best for Amazon users
The latest Fire TV device has built-in speaker and microphones for hands-free control.
- 4K Ultra HD (up to 60 fps)
- Easy integration with Amazon products
- 8 GB storage
- Dolby Atmos surround sound
- HDR and HDR10+
- Alexa voice remote
- Wi-Fi dual-band (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
- HDMI 2.0a
You’ll have the perfect Amazon-connected home
If you want to keep things simple, and you’re a Prime member, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick will work well with your other Amazon/Alexa products for a more connected home.
The Fire TV Stick also comes with an Alexa voice remote to request a streaming service, like Prime Video, or a song through Spotify, and can seamlessly integrate a VPN to your streaming experience.
You’ll get loads of entertainment with the Fire TV Stick
One awesome perk with this streaming device: 500,000 movies and TV shows are available to you to watch without a subscription.
This streaming device also makes it easy for cord-cutters who are leaning toward a live TV streaming service, like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, or Sling TV (check out our best live TV streaming services review to find the best one for you).
And then you can also listen to Nicki Minaj or Harry Styles with Amazon Music, Pandora, Apple Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio.
What we don’t like: The search function is geared towards Amazon
Ya know how we highlighted the convenient Roku feature of searching across all platforms on your device? Yeah, well, the Fire Stick TV doesn’t do that.
Yes, the voice remote will pull up any streaming service you ask it (“Turn on HBO Max”), but if you ask the Fire TV Stick to find The Undoing, it will instead search for the show through Amazon.
Then you’ll have to resort to using the unfriendly way of typing with the little remote.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro has the most features for your streaming experience
Stream videos, play video games, and use voice control with the SHIELD
- 4K HDR
- Dolby Atmos and DTS-X surround sound
- Fast processor with 3 GB RAM
- 16 GB storage
- Built-in Google Assistant
- Amazon Echo compatible
- Wi-Fi and Ethernet
- Two USB 3.0 ports
A connected home makes for a simpler life
The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro has a built-in Chromecast 4K, includes Google Assistant, and is compatible with Alexa. With this streaming device, you can connect it to your other devices, like the Amazon Echo.
Then the possibilities are endless (and hands-free). Just tell Alexa “Turn on Disney+” or “Hulu.”
You’ll have access to thousands of apps, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video. Oh, and guess what? This device doubles as a game console.
It’s an excellent streaming device for gamers (and non-gamers, of course)
You can connect your game controller to the NVIDIA SHIELD to play games like Fortnite and GeForce Now in 4K.
Not only will you get to bring your games to life, but your movies will look realistic with the Dolby Vision HDR for vivid picture quality. And the Dolby Atmos surround sound will immerse you into your game or your movie like no other.
Now, we don’t know about you, but the price tag for this streaming device/ game console doesn’t look so bad anymore.
What we don’t like: The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro is on the expensive side
If you just wanna Netflix and chill, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro is two or three times more expensive than the average streaming device. Granted, you get a lot for that price, but it’s worth it for those who appreciate the features.
Google Chromecast Ultra is known for a great user experience
Consumers say the Chromecast Ultra is simple and easy to use
- Compatible with Google Assistant
- Your mobile device or tablet is your remote
- Voice control
- HDR 10
- USB powered
The Chromecast Ultra provides simplicity at its finest
First of all, the setup is easy. Just plug the tiny Chromecast Ultra into your TV, and voilà!
Secondly, you control the little guy with your smartphone or tablet. You know it’s easier to navigate your smartphone than it is to learn the ins and outs of a brand new device.
You can play, pause, rewind, and control the volume with your smartphone, or connect the Ultra to your Google Home so you can easily tell your streaming device to “Play Stranger Things.”
Enjoy 2,000 apps for your entertainment
With the Ultra, you’ll have access to 2,000 apps to watch your favorite TV shows, movies, videos, sports, listen to music, and play games. Some apps you and your family can use are Disney+, Netflix, YouTube, YouTube TV, Pandora, Prime Video, and HBO Max.
What we don’t like: Using your smartphone to control your TV isn’t the most practical
This is for the phone lovers who can’t seem to put it down (you know who you are). If you don’t want to use your phone for the Chromecast Ultra because you rather be on Twitter checking the sports updates (understandable), then you can also use your laptop to control this streaming device.
Apple TV 4K is best for Apple users
A high-end streaming option that comes with a big Apple price
- Siri voice control
- 32 GB–64 GB
- Dolby Vision and Atmos
- Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound
- A10X Fusion chip
- iTunes integration
- HDMI 2.0a
The Apple TV is perfect if you’re part of Apple ecosystem
If you’re already bought into the iWorld of things, it makes perfect sense to go for the classic appeal of Apple: sleek design, intuitive user interface, and easy syncing between devices.
Plus, if you have a ton of movies and music on iTunes, this is the only streaming device that makes it effortless to integrate.
If you want to make the switch from DVDs or Blu-Ray and go digital, the Apple TV keeps your purchased movies in a neat library that’s organized by genres.
You get some free perks when you buy an Apple TV
When you set up your Apple TV 4K, you’ll get free access to Apple Music and Apple News+ for four months and AppleTV+ for one year.
Other than AppleTV+, you’ll get 1,000 other apps on your new streaming device like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+, and ESPN+.
What we don’t like: The Apple TV is pretty pricey
It’s expensive. It costs two or three times as much as some of our other picks. While Apple fans might be used to higher prices, it’s still a lot of money to put down at once for a streaming device.
But honestly, from our experience (as an Apple fan), the Apple TV makes for a smooth streaming experience with all of your streaming apps and purchased movies in one place.
Siri requires the remote
Part of the appeal of Alexa integration is that you can have any Amazon speaker product nearby and use voice control, but with Apple’s voice system, you need to keep your remote in hand.
Recap: What is the best streaming device?
You can find a plethora of ways to get your streaming services up on the big screen, but depending on your needs and budget, finding the perfect one should be easy with a few considerations.
- Roku Streaming Stick+: For $50, you get all of the popular streaming apps on a smooth and easy to use interface. The search function is also really nice when you want to figure out which streaming service has The Other Guys.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick: Perfect for Amazon/ Alexa users, you’ll have a connected home. The Fire TV Stick ($50) also has loads of apps for on-demand streaming, live TV, and music.
- NVIDIA SHIELD TV Pro: If you’re a Google Chromecast/ Android user or a gamer, get the SHIELD ($200). The Dolby Vision and Atmos will give your games and movies a vivid picture and surreal surround sound.
- Google Chromecast Ultra: Most known for its simplicity, you can plug your Ultra ($50) into your TV in seconds. You’ll also control your Ultra through your smartphone, tablet, or laptop and won’t have to worry about losing your remote.
- Apple TV 4K: The Apple TV is a bit pricey for what it is, but if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, it just makes sense. It’ll be worth the money to have your streaming services and movies on one device the whole family can enjoy.
What’s your favorite streaming device? What would you like to see more of in the streaming world? Let us know in the comments!