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December 13, 2019
With the Holiday shopping season rapidly coming to a close, is a streaming device on your list this year? Use our streaming device buyers guide to help you make the right choice. It’s a great way to enjoy popular services, like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu.
While some use their smart TV or videogame console to stream content, others cast video from their smartphone. Still, a dedicated streaming device provides a straightforward solution. In the same manner as our buyers guides for streaming services and wireless routers, here’s a streaming device buyers guide.
Roku Ranks at the Top of the Media Streaming Device World
There are good reasons for Roku’s massive popularity among consumers. For example, their family of devices provides a simple user interface and excellent performance. Most importantly, they are neutral when it comes to the various streaming services on the market.
While the Amazon Fire TV Stick is another great option, its interface favors content from Amazon Prime. While this isn’t a problem for Prime subscribers, other users might find that tendency annoying. It’s a major reason why so many turn to Roku.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ ranked first on CNET’s list of the top streaming devices for 2019. For nearly $50, users are able to easily stream 4K HDR video. It includes voice control and a fast processor. This Roku’s portability also lets you grab it and go when traveling.
Alexa Powers the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
Subscribers to Amazon Prime need to check out the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It’s also priced at $50, which tends to be the sweet spot for most streaming devices. One advantage over the Roku Streaming Stick+ is its superior voice control provided by Alexa. Pairing the device with an Amazon Echo works best for this feature.
As noted earlier, the Fire TV Stick’s user interface strongly suggests content from Amazon Prime. Frankly, it’s over the top at times. If this isn’t bothersome, this streaming device’s feature set compares well with the Roku family and others.
Also, note that the Fire TV Stick 4K doesn’t provide an app for You Tube TV. This is likely to be a showstopper for many users. You Tube TV continues to grow in popularity. In that case, the platform-agnostic Roku family remains the best choice.
The Apple TV 4K Provides Great Performance at a Premium
The Apple TV 4K is likely on the wishlist of Apple fans if they already don’t own one. With support for 4K video and Dolby Atmos sound, its feature set ranks at the top of the streaming device heap. Of course, being an Apple device, this high-end functionality comes with a high-end price. The Apple TV 4K costs $169, over three times as much as the other devices in our buyers guide.
For this price, users receive superior performance, a great remote and voice control capabilities powered by Siri. Unfortunately, the Apple TV 4K won’t stream YouTube content in 4K or HDR. This is due to incompatibility with the codec. Remember what we said about the platform-agnostic Roku?
In the end, expect the majority of users to opt for the cheaper options from Roku or Amazon.
Remember to stream HD content you need at least 5 Mbps of Internet speed per device. For streaming content in 4K, the speed requirement increases to 25 Mbps. As always, perform regular Internet speed tests to ensure you get the speed your ISP promised.
Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.