Dealing with cable companies can be a real drag, and more and more people are choosing to do TV on their own terms. Whether you’re a binger, a late night horror film streamer, or a sports fanatic, it’s easier than ever to get the content you want when you want it. Many TVs come built-in with WiFi connectivity and apps like Amazon Prime, Youtube, and Netflix. Even if you have a regular TV, you can easily make it into a smart TV with a media streaming stick.
The leaders in the streaming stick game are Amazon and Roku, and we’ve provided a breakdown below on different options and their perks. It’s worth differentiating streaming sticks from something like Google Chromecast. Chromecast acts almost like a wireless HDMI, allowing you to stream media from your phone or computer to your TV. Streaming sticks, however, provide onscreen menus, built-in services, and typically come with designated remotes. In short, streaming sticks offer a more complete experience, turning a regular TV into a smart TV.
If you’re looking for an enhanced streaming experience, these are the media sticks to get.
1. Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote
For an ultra high definition experience, Amazon’s 4K Fire Stick connects to all of the major streaming services, as well as websites like Facebook and weather apps. It comes with a voice-controlled remote, making searching easy. Plus, Prime members get access to Amazon’s extensive movie, TV, and music libraries.
Pros: Faster than previous Fire Stick models, 4K picture quality.
Cons: Some users found that non-Amazon apps don’t work as well as Amazon Prime.
Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote
2. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
This Fire Stick has the same functionality as the 4K version, but it provides 1080p definition instead. That may seem like a downgrade, but 4K content requires a 4K TV. Not all providers support 4K, and some charge extra for it. If you don’t have 4K and have no plans to upgrade, you can save yourself a few bucks by going 1080p instead.
Pros: Most of the same functionality as other Fire Stick for 20% less.
Cons: Cluttered menu display.
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
3. Roku Express High Definition Streaming Media Player
There obvious benefits to sticking to one company for all your smart technology needs is that they communicate with one another better, but more and more services easily integrate with Amazon, including Roku. This Roku player comes with a voice-controlled remote, tons of streaming services, and it’s easy to set up.
Pros: Roku Express is the simplest and most affordable Roku device, but still has most of the same functions as the base Roku models.
Cons: Can run hot.