Stream Everything With the Best Streaming Stick or Box

It seems like everyone and their mother have a streaming service these days from Disney+ to HBO Max and of course Hulu and Netflix. Switching between all these streaming services on a 4K TV is a 1,000-times more annoying than having to launch the Steam AND Epic launcher at the same time, but good news is the right streaming device can completely streamline the experience for you.The best streaming devices are programmed with simplified interfaces to get you to watch your favorite shows in just a few button presses—or better yet just using your voice to search. Beyond that, the world of set-top boxes can be a bit muddled as there each offers their own ecosystem of services while supporting varying video and audio standards. Without getting too much into bit rate, the right streaming device can make the difference between actually watching The Long Night as it was meant to be seen or a mix of pixelated darkness.

If you’re looking for the best streaming device, we’ve got you covered. We’ve tested all of them vigorously, watching movies and TV shows, playing games. It was hard work but like to go the extra mile for you so you don’t end up buying a crappy device.

TL;DR – These are the Best Streaming Device:

1. Roku Ultra

Best Streaming Device

Our Pick

Roku Ultra

On Amazon

The Roku Ultra sits firmly in the middle of the streaming device market with its $99 price tag. It’s one of the most well rounded set-top boxes that’s able to stream 4K HDR content from a wide range of services including Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and even Apple TV. This little box also grants you access to Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, Sling, HBO Now, and PBS kids.

It also comes with a remote with very tactile buttons and a few handy shortcuts to launch Netflix, ESPN, Hulu, and Sling. This remote also comes with a headphone jack, which allows it to act as a wireless dongle for any pair of headphones you want to plug in. The only thing we don’t love is how old the interface looks, but it’s easy to navigate and you can skip most of it by just using voice search to find your shows for you.

2. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Best Budget Streaming Device

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

On Amazon

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is just about the cheapest way to start streaming 4K content for just $50. It’s a simple stick-shaped device you plug into one of your 4K TV’s available HDMI ports then connect USB power and that’s it. This simple streaming stick grants you access to Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO, and more.

As with any of Amazon’s devices, you can ask Alexa to find the TV shows and movies or control playback without having to pick up your remote. Alternatively, you could use the Alexa-integration to ask questions or control your smart home. Unfortunately, the Fire TV Stick doesn’t have much of an App Store or any access to the Google Play Store, so Amazon dictates what apps you can install on this device. If you don’t mind have a little less freedom over what apps you can use, this is the best streaming device for users on a budget.

3. Nvidia Shield TV

Best 4K Streaming Device

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Nvidia Shield TV

On Amazon

Nvidia’s Shield TV is expensive for a streaming box, but it’s easily the best 4K streaming device on the market. It’s one of, if not the only, streaming device to have a built-in upscaling technology. Using a process Nvidia calls “AI-enhanced upscaling,” the Shield TV can turn anything you watch into a 4K video. That includes everything from blockbuster movies to Twitch streams and YouTube Videos. It supports a ton of different streaming services and has full access to the Google Play Store since it’s running on the Android TV platform. Plus, it even doubles as a Chromecast so you can stream to your TV from your phone or tablet.

You can also game on it two different ways; if you have an Nvidia graphics card you can also stream games from your gaming PC to your 4K TV at 60fps. Alternatively, you can stream games directly from Nvidia’s servers using GeForce Now, which currently gives you the power of a Turing-based desktop over the air.

4. Apple TV 4K

Best 4K Streaming Box for Apple Households

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This is the most obvious pick of the bunch, because clearly if you’re all-in with the iPhone, iPad, Macbook, and iTunes you’re going to want the Apple TV 4K. The newest version supports 4K content and both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats. It also supports Dolby Digital surround sound up to 7.1, but not the latest Dolby Atmos standard.

If you’re subscribed to Apple Arcade, you can play around with a great library of games on your 4K TV after pairing a Bluetooth controller like the Xbox One controller or Dualshock 4. Outside of Apple’s ecosystem, you also can also download and use apps like Netflix and Hulu. The remote is just awful with its flat design and Apple’s decision to make a third of it a touchscreen, but it’s easy enough to summon Siri to take the pain out of finding things to watch.

5. Chromecast Ultra

Best Streaming From Your Phone

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Chromecast Ultra

On Walmart

If you’re the type of person who just wants to sit on your couch, phone in hand, and cast movies and TV shows to your big screen, the Chromecast Ultra (read our review) is your best 4K streaming option. There’s no remote, no TV interface, and no hoops to jump through. Just pull up some content on your phone, and cast it to your TV. Thew new Ultra version adds support for 4k content and HDR, so if you have a 4K TV it’s the one to get. You can connect to your network over Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and all you need is the Google Home app to get started.

You can stream from networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and HBO, to streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. You’ll be able to beam straight from their apps to the Chromecast Ultra whether you have an iPhone or Android phone. A lot of music services support it too, including Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and Google Play Music. The only major exceptions are Apple Music and all of Amazon’s Prime Video. Eventually, with a patch, anyone with a Stadia Pro subscription will be able to play games streaming directly from Google’s servers as well.


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