Smart TVs are all the rage with content consumption on the rise worldwide. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., are becoming increasingly popular thanks to the wide variety of content offered. While most newer Smart TVs come with the Google TV UI, which has these apps and services pre-installed, you may not be so lucky if you have an older TV. It could also be possible that your TV is sluggish, so you want a better software experience.
The best solution to these problems is dedicated streaming device. It could be an Android TV box or even a streaming stick. These devices plug into your existing TV and give you a new interface. We’ve gathered some of the best Android TV boxes and streaming sticks across various price points to help you pick one based on your specific needs.
But, before we show you the recommendations, here are some other articles you might be interested in –
- Here’s how to stream content from your iPhone to your Android TV.
- Once you’ve got your streaming device, check out the best Android TV apps.
- If you want to get the most out of the new Google TV UI, here are some of the best Android TV tips and tricks.
Streaming Sticks vs. Boxes
There’s not much to differentiate the two categories of devices. The major difference between streaming sticks and boxes or cubes is in size. Streaming sticks directly plug into your TV and hence take up lesser space. These devices hide behind your TV, making them a good option if you have a wall-mounted TV.
On the other hand, streaming boxes are slightly larger in size and connect to your TV via an HDMI cable. Since they’re larger, they may also contain additional ports like USB ports, a LAN port, etc. for better connectivity. Some streaming boxes may also have more powerful internals due to the larger available area.
Now let’s get to the products now that the differences are out of the way.
1. Roku Express
The Roku Express is a basic streaming device that is a great starter pack if you want to get into streaming. It’s affordable, has most of the required features, and supports all popular streaming services. The Roku Express also offers you 275+ live TV channels, a unique addition.
The package bundles a high speed HDMI cable and a remote within the box. The advantage of getting a streaming stick from Roku instead of one from Amazon, Google, or Apple is that you can use any voice assistant on it – be it Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.
2. Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Amazon has been making streaming devices for the longest time so they’ve established their expertise in the industry. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the latest version of their streaming stick that comes with the new Alexa remote. You can use the dedicated buttons on the remote to access the Alexa voice assistant and open streaming apps like Prime Video, Netflix, etc., directly.
This particular version of the Fire TV Stick supports streaming content in 4K, so if you have a 4K TV, you will enjoy crisp visuals along with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support. Amazon claims that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is up to 40% faster than the older Fire TV Stick 4K, which is a good improvement. The TV UI is essentially an overall on top of Android TV, so you can install any app or game of your choice.
3. Chromecast With Google TV
Google’s Chromecast devices have been around for a long time. However, they never took off as the de-facto option for a streaming content due to several limitations. However, Google recently refreshed its Chromecast with a new version that runs the latest Google TV interface. This makes it a great option since it’s like the Pixel of streaming sticks.
Like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the Chromecast with Google TV supports video output at up to 4K with HDR support. In simple terms, you will enjoy watching content using this device, provided your TV also has a 4K panel. Along with the device, you get a simplistic remote with dedicated buttons for Netflix and YouTube. There’s a button to launch the Google Assistant too.
4. Mi Box S 4K
While all the products mentioned so far were streaming sticks, this one from Xiaomi is a streaming box. As a result, you’re not going to get a device that can tuck away behind your TV. The small box comes with an HDMI port and an additional USB-A port to which you can attach any external device.
The Mi TV Box S 4K gets a proprietary Bluetooth remote with custom buttons to launch Netflix, live TV, and the Google Assistant. There’s 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage ensuring you have a smooth experience while the box is connected to your TV. Overall, it’s a good budget-oriented Android TV box.
5. Amazon Fire TV Cube
The Amazon Fire TV Cube has an in-built speaker, so it can even act as a smart home hub that you use to control other smart devices. Think of it as an Amazon Echo device that connects to your TV to stream content. It’s got a hexa-core CPU under the hood that makes it super-fast and gives it the ability to stream content in 4K with ease.
While the Amazon Fire TV Cube does come with a remote, you can control the device entirely hands-free just using your voice. Another trick the Fire TV Cube has got up its sleeve is that you can even link it to compatible soundbars and speaker systems to control all your devices with just your voice seamlessly. The Fire TV Cube is slightly on the larger side and wouldn’t be a great fit if your TV is wall-mounted.
6. NVIDIA Shield TV Pro
The original NVIDIA Shield was one of the best streaming devices for the enthusiasts. The sheer power offered by the hardware meant that the device is still going strong even years after launch. The Shield TV Pro just improves on all of those fronts and is the new lead product in their line-up. Apart from letting you stream content in 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and Atmos, it’s got the most powerful processor in a streaming device.
The powerful processer means that you get support for NVIDIA GeForce Now which is a cloud gaming service. If you don’t have a powerful PC or a gaming console, you can play several titles directly on the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro just with a stable internet connection. Though it is large and bulky, it’ll never fall short of surprising you to let you stream content over the network or the internet.
Enjoy Your Favorite Shows
Catch up on your favorite shows with a good streaming device for your TV. Whether you want to binge on your favorite shows on Netflix or watch a movie on Prime Video, a good streaming device can improve your video and audio experience.
Last updated on 28 June, 2022
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