Streaming is about as common as cable TV these days. In fact, we’d be willing to bet that most households actually prefer app-based content over traditionally broadcast programming. And when it comes to how you get your Netflix and Disney+ viewing done, most folks will experience these platforms and others like them through a number of fantastic streaming devices.
The leaders in the market include Google with Chromecast, Apple with Apple TV, Amazon with Fire TV and Roku with its eponymous streaming devices. Each device offers its own benefits. Roku and Fire Stick are distinct in that they offer a user-friendly interface for your TV, and they come with a remote that can replace your TV’s remote. They basically allow you to turn a regular TV into a smart TV. However, these devices do not offer access to HBO Max, which is a major drawback if you were hoping to binge-watch Friends.
So what’s the best streaming device? That depends on your budget. If you don’t mind dropping $170 on a streaming device — on top of what you’ll pay for apps like Netflix and Hulu — then Apple TV is the way to go. If you’re looking for a cheap streaming device, then Roku has a few affordable options that easily unlock access to your favorite apps. Despite being a smaller brand, Roku can more than keep up with its competitors who are worth tens of billions of dollars (or even a trillion, in Amazon’s case). Roku is a popular option because it has an intuitive and uncluttered search menu, and it’s better optimized for 4K. However, if controlling your TV using a smart speaker is important to you, then Amazon’s Fire devices have a clear edge. And of course, if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, having a streaming device that syncs will all of your other Apple devices makes life super convenient. There are also more niche alternatives like the NVIDIA Shield TV, which is a great option for gamers.
To help you get the most out of your TV, we’ve rounded up the 12 best streaming devices for sale in 2023.
Chromecast with Google TV
Best for: Those looking to take advantage of the seamless “casting” capabilities that the Chromecast is known for, on top of an intuitive interface and navigation methods.
Why we chose it: The Chromecast with Google TV will get you all the must-have streaming platforms, on top of casting capabilities, Google Assistant controls, and so much more.
Read More: Google Chromecast Gets Its First Price Drop
- Google TV platform
- Supports 4K and HDR streaming
Google’s Chromecast line of streamers has always offered the best bang for the buck, but the lack of a remote-driven interface always hurt its cause. Being able to load up videos with your phone is a great convenience to have, but as the sole method of control, it can feel a bit limiting. Chromecast with Google TV changes this in a major, major way. You can still cast videos from virtually any streaming service using your phone or laptop, but now there’s a remote and Google TV, which is essentially a redesigned and overhauled update to Android TV. This means you can install apps, receive curated recommendations, load up live TV via a seamless Youtube TV integration, and even give Google Assistant voice commands to control your smart home.
But when it comes to specs, the Chromecast with Google TV is also built to compete with the best streaming devices. You have access to 4K streaming in HDR10 or Dolby Vision, support for Dolby Atmos sound and the remote can be used to power your TV on and off, change the volume and switch input sources. On top of that, all of the services you could ever want are available on Google TV. This includes Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, Criterion Channel, Twitch and HBO Max, which is still — somehow — only available on Google and Apple streaming devices. But the thing that really puts this little streamer on top is the fact that it’s offering these top-of-the-line features at a price well below the premium offerings from other companies.
- Sleek and responsive Google TV interface
- Can cast apps from your phone or tablet
- Supports 4K HDR/60Hz
- Not Alexa or HomeKit-friendly
- Lacks Dolby Atmos support
Apple TV 4K (2022)
Best for: Streaming fanatics that want to experience some of the best-in-class 4K and HDR performance, along with plenty of built-in storage.
Why we chose it: The Apple TV 4K (2022) may not be the cheapest streaming hardware on the market, but when it’s performance and value you’re after, you can’t do much better. Plus, it will allow you to control your HomeKit-powered smart devices!
Read More: Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire Sticks, and Rokus On Sale
- Powered by Apple’s tvOS
- Supports multiple HDR formats and Dolby Atmos
- Can be used as a Apple HomeKit hub device
2022 saw the release of two brand-new Apple TV 4K streaming devices, one with 64GB of onboard storage for $130, and a second unit with 128GB and a Gigabit Ethernet port for $150 (only $20 more). And if you’re planning on downloading a ton of movies and TV shows, or plan on doing a bunch of HDR streaming, we recommend you go with the 128GB model. But for overall value, we’ll be sticking with the 64GB unit for the rest of this breakdown.
Apple doesn’t rest on its laurels, with the new generation of Apple TV 4K devices capable of delivering both the visuals and audio with stellar HDR playback, HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos support, and the new and improved A15 Bionic chip for improved performance and Siri responsiveness across the board. It may not be a cheap streaming device, but if you’re looking for a device that will control your smart home ecosystem, let you stream with AirPlay 2, and download your favorite movies and shows, the Apple TV 4K (2022) is the way to go.
- Fast and powerful 4K HDR performance
- Includes 68GB (or 128GB) of internal storage
- Can be used as a HomeKit hub
- Doesn’t support Alexa or Google Assistant
Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus
Best for: Those looking to score a great deal on a fast and responsive streaming device from a trusted brand.
Why we chose it: With its incredible array of apps to choose from, AirPlay 2 support, and HDR playback, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ wins big in many ways.
Read More: The Best 4K TVs for Gaming and Streaming
- Runs on Roku TV OS
- Supports Apple AirPlay 2, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and more
Roku has been a go-to name in the world of streaming devices for quite some time, and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ may just be one of the best peripherals the company has ever made. Designed to plug directly into your TV’s HDMI port, the Streaming Stick 4K+ features improved Wi-Fi performance over previous Streaming Stick generations, and comes with Roku’s handy Voice Remote Pro, which allows you to search for content and perform certain actions using voice commands. And for the Apple devotees out there, you’ll even be able to use the Streaming Stick 4K+ to mirror content from your iPhone using Apple AirPlay 2.
- Convenient HDMI-ready design
- One of Roku’s fastest streaming devices
- Supports 4K HDR playback
- Supports Apple AirPlay 2
- Not as fast as the Roku Ultra
- Lacks support for some HDR formats
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Best for: Fans of the Fire TV platform that want one of Amazon’s fastest-available streaming devices.
Why we chose it: With improved performance, revamped Wi-Fi features, and excellent 4K HDR playback, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is all about streaming in style.
Read More: Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Review
- Runs on Fire TV OS
- Supports Wi-Fi 6
- Works with Amazon Alexa
Amazon’s original Fire TV Stick 4K Max was already a blistering-fast streaming device, but the company notched things up even further with the release of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Not only will you be able to enjoy the amazing assortment of apps that all Fire TV devices will offer, but the 4K Max also features improved performance (Amazon claims that the 4K Max is 40% faster than the Streaming Stick 4K), Wi-Fi 6 support, and incredible HDR capabilities, including compatibility with HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. And best of all: the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max can usually be found for less than $50!
- Amazon’s fastest streaming stick
- Includes Wi-Fi 6 support
- Supports multiple HDR formats
- Lacks the more advanced features of higher-priced streaming devices
Roku Ultra (2022)
Best for: Fans of Roku’s app selection and interface who want the fastest-performing Roku device on the market.
Why we chose it: With its built-in Ethernet port and lightning-fast processor, the Roku Ultra is the company’s flagship streaming device, and it’s worth every penny.
Read More: The 14 Best TVs of 2022
- Runs on Roku TV OS
- Supports HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos
- Includes Voice Remote Pro
The Roku Ultra was hard to come by for a decent period of time, but the company surprised the streaming market with the release of the new and improved Ultra in 2022. Featuring an upgraded processor, the latest Ultra will stream faster than ever before, especially if you use the Ultra’s Ethernet port to connect it to directly to your router. That’s on top of some rock-solid 4K HDR capabilities, support for Dolby Atmos, and the inclusion of Roku’s Voice Remote Pro with a built-in headphone jack for private listening. While it’s a bit more expensive than the rest of the competition, the Roku Ultra (2022) nearly equals the many accolades of the Apple TV 4K (2022), but without all the onboard storage and Siri optimizations.
- Roku’s fastest streaming device
- Includes built-in Ethernet port
- Supports 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos
- Comes with Voice Remote Pro
- No internal storage
Roku Express (2022)
Best for: Those shopping for a streaming device with limited funds to spend.
Why we chose it: The Roku Express gives you many of the same great features you’ll find on the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ and Ultra, and at a price that anyone can wrap their head around.
Read More: The Best Streaming Services with Free Trials in 2022
- Runs on Roku TV OS
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit
When you need a streaming device to do the bare minimum, the Roku Express goes a step further by granting users the kind of experience more akin to the performance of the Roku Streaming Stick+ series, but stepped down a couple of pegs. So if you don’t mind the fact that you won’t be doing any 4K HDR streaming with this bad boy, and can deal with a slightly slower processor, the Roku Express is the perfect streamer to opt for when money is a concern, or if you simply don’t need your streaming gear to deliver next-level HDR picture. After all, we don’t all have 4K TVs yet.
- A great value for budget shoppers
- Delivers fast 1080p streaming
- Compatible with multiple voice assistants
- Bare-bones in terms of functionality and overall performance
Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)
Best for: Those of us who love casting apps and other content from our phones and tablets.
Why we chose it: The Google Chromecast (3rd Generation) is cheap to purchase, easy to use, and allows you to seamlessly mirror apps from your go-to mobile devices to your TV. Just don’t be expecting a robust user interface.
Read More: Google’s New Chromecast Is Its Cheapest Yet
Google’s Chromecast started as an experiment, setting out to offer a cheap and easy way to stream content in your living room. That experiment was so successful that Chromecast quickly became Google’s top priority as far as its streaming products go. Unlike the Chromecast with Google TV, this doesn’t have a remote, so you absolutely need a device like your phone, tablet or laptop to stream content to your TV. After it’s set up, a casting icon will appear on your streaming apps. By clicking it, the streaming apps will cast to your TV as you control them using your smartphone or tablet. If you don’t mind casting, it’s actually a pretty nifty streaming device. Using your phone as a remote takes some getting used to, but this is an affordable solution if you have an older TV.
- A great budget option for Google Chromecast fans
- Can easily cast a number of apps from Android and iOS devices
- No user interface
Read More: The Best Streaming Services of 2022
- Runs on Android TV OS
- Compatible with multiple gaming accessories
- Supports 4K playback
A streaming device with gamers in mind, the NVIDIA Shield not only has the ability to stream 4K content, but it also has over 200 games onboard via Android TV. And gamers will appreciate the fact that both Xbox and PlayStation 4 Bluetooth controllers are compatible with this streaming device. It even allows PC gamers to stream games to their TV in beautiful 4K. For casual streamers, all of the heavy-hitting apps are still available, and you can easily search for them thanks to Google Assistant.
- An excellent streaming device for gamers
- Includes GeForce NOW support
- Can be linked up with different console controllers
- Can stream up to 4K HDR
Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd Generation)
Best for: Fire TV fans that want a powerful smart home hub that can act as an Alexa controller for all of your home’s smart devices.
Why we chose it: The new and improved Fire TV Cube is fast, loaded with features, and can be used just like an Alexa-powered Echo speaker.
Read More: Amazon Fire TV (3rd Gen) Review
- Runs on Fire TV OS
- Can be used as an Alexa smart speaker
- Supports Wi-Fi 6E
Amazon’s original Fire TV Cube was a formidable, Alexa-powered piece of streaming equipment, but the latest generation of the device brings a few changes to this smart streamer. With its bountiful array of apps to choose from, excellent web performance, and built-in Ethernet port, the Fire TV Cube is clearly marketed for more advanced streamers, but accessible enough for pretty much any user willing to give it a try. We also love the added HDMI input for passthrough applications like connecting your cable box directly to the Cube, allowing you to use Alexa to control certain connected devices.
- Amazon’s best streaming device
- Includes HDMI passthrough
- Has a built-in Ethernet port
- Can be used as an Alexa speaker
NVIDIA Shield TV
Best for: Picture and audio connoisseurs who want their streaming device to deliver a best-in-class viewing experience.
Why we chose it: The NVIDIA Shield TV is equal parts streaming savant and gaming workhorse, complete with every spec and feature you’d need for one of the fastest and best-looking (and sounding) streaming experiences on the market.
Read More: The Best Gaming Laptops You Can Buy in 2022
- Supports 4K HDR streaming
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
Voice commands, HD upscaling and a remote locator are only a handful of the amazing features that come standard with the NVIDIA TV Shield. While NVIDIA isn’t as well known as Fire TV or Roku when it comes to home streaming, even the best streaming devices can’t match this product in terms of picture and sound quality. The NVIDIA Shield can let you stream 4K HDR video and is compatible with your Dolby Atmos surround sound speakers. With this powerful streaming device, you’re a TV wizard, deftly flipping back and forth between streaming titans like Prime and Netflix. Customers can control Shield using voice commands via Google Home or Alexa. The NVIDIA is also a particularly great option for gamers and audiophiles, allowing you to stream PC games directly to your 4K TV.
- Incredible 4K HDR performance
- Supports Dolby Atmos
- Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Not as user-friendly as other streaming devices on this list
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite
Best for: Amazon Fire TV devotees who want one of the least expensive streaming devices that Amazon makes.
Why we chose it: While it’s not the Streaming Stick 4K Max (which isn’t that much more), the Fire TV Stick Lite more than gets the job done as a bare-bones streamer.
Read More: Amazon Fire TV Omni Is Big on Alexa, Short on Wow Factor
- Runs on Fire TV OS
- Supports 1080p HD playback
Amazon’s standard Fire TV Stick Lite may not have the same 4K streaming and full-fledged Alexa support, nor can its remote control your TV like other Fire TV devices. But this is the absolute cheapest way to stream if you want to use an Amazon device. Unlike the similarly priced third-generation Chromecast and Roku Express, this 1080p streamer supports HDR10, as well as Dolby Atmos, which will give your content a little extra life if you TV and speakers support these standards.
- A great value for budget shoppers
- Supports 1080p and HDR10
- Also supports Dolby Atmos
- Not as fast or feature-rich as other Amazon streaming devices