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Best Streaming Devices 2019

These days, you've got an abundance of choices for how to stream online content directly to your TV, from small HDMI sticks that tuck behind your TV to minimalist set-top boxes and even game consoles that double as entertainment centers.

For the largest selection with minimum fuss, the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($60) is the best streaming device overall, as it boasts a ton of streaming service channels, plus 4K streaming. If you're looking for something cheaper, consider the Google Chromecast ($35), which matches a streamlined feature set with a low price tag, and still get one of the best streaming devices.

News and Updates (October 2019)

Best Overall

Roku Streaming Stick+

(Image credit: Roku)

Roku Streaming Stick+

Best Overall

Number of Apps: Thousands | Size: 3.7 x 10 x 1.0 inches | Weight: 0.7 oz

Inexpensive
Full 4K HDR capabilities
Huge app selection
Customizable interface
Remote lacks an audio jack
Search could be deeper

Thanks to the Roku Streaming Stick+, the best streaming device, you no longer have to choose between price and content selection. The Roku Streaming Stick+ costs about $60, and provides access to more than 5,000 channels — including the sometimes-elusive Amazon Video. The device is small and unobtrusive, and thanks to a wireless amplifier, it's easy to get a strong signal from anywhere in your home.

Read our full Roku Streaming Stick+ review.

MORE: Top 10 Online Streaming Video Services

Best Value

Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)

(Image credit: Future)

Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)

Best Value

Number of Apps: Thousands | Size: 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 1.4 oz

Fast performance
Inexpensive
Intuitive interface
Boring, stripped-down design
No significant improvements over second gen

The 3rd generation Chromecast 2 is just as compact as before and features 15 percent faster performance. This device takes advantage of the well-designed Chromecast app that makes it easy to find streamable content, highlighting video from apps already installed on your phone. That app needs to carry the weight of an operating system for the Chromecast, though, as there's no on-screen menus. At $35, it's one of the best streaming device values available, but those with 4K TVs should look into the Google Chromecast Ultra instead.

Read our full Google Chromecast (3rd Generation) review

Best Voice Control

The Fire TV Cube is a solid sequel, packing speed to amplify Alexa.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide | Future)

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Best Voice Control

Number of Apps: Hundreds | Size: 3.4 x 3.4 x 3.0 inches | Weight: 16.4 oz

Speedier performance
Alexa's cable box controls are great
Great 4K HDR picture quality
Lively interface
Home screen can't be edited, packs ads
Awkward Ethernet adapter

Did you know Alexa could control your cable box (yes, some of us haven't cut the cord yet)? The Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) packs a version of the virtual assistant that offers more entertainment device tricks than most, including switching HDMI inputs and tuning to cable channels. And thanks to a faster processor in this new model, commands happen up to four times as fast. This box (it's not technically a cube) streams content in excellent 4K, HDR quality, and its content-first interface seeks to cut down the time it takes for you to hit Play.

Read our full Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) review.

Best for External Media

(Image credit: Roku)

Roku Ultra (2019)

Best for External Media

Number of Apps: Thousands | Size: 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 8.0 oz

Great performance
Lots of high-quality channels
Inventive remote control
USB and microSD ports
Expensive
Almost nothing new from last year's model

The 2019 Roku Ultra isn't just a great streaming box with all of the perks you'd expect for $100 (4K HDR video and fast performance for starters). We love the new Roku Ultra for its USB port which allows for folks to play back their own collected movie files on the Ultra. This means you don't need to know what a media server is, or how to set one up. The other big boon of this model is that you can program the Roku remote's two customizable buttons to open your favorite channels, in addition to the pre-programmed ones for Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Vudu.

Read our full Roku Ultra (2019) review.

Best Android TV Player

Nvidia Shield

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia Shield

Best Android TV Player

Number of Channels: 600+ | Size: 6.3 x 3.8 x 1.0 inches | Weight: 8.8 oz

Great gaming capabilities
Lots of video and music apps
Comfortable controller
Potential for smart home capabilities
Expensive
Oddities in app selection and interface

The Nvidia Shield splits the difference between a streaming box and a gaming console, and has a lot to offer on both fronts. In addition to enjoying your favorite shows and movies on apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon (the only Android TV player that has it), you can download high-end Android games or stream top-tier PC titles from the GeForce Now program. The Shield can act as a Plex Media Server, and will eventually be able to control smart home tech through voice commands. Add in 4K HDR support, as well as the ability to play your own media via USB, and its versatility makes the Shield one of the best streaming players available.

Read our full Nvidia Shield review.

Best Live TV Streamer

Dish AirTV Player

(Image credit: Dish)

Dish AirTV Player

Best Live TV Streamer

Number of Channels: 600+ | Size: 5.2 x 5.2 x 1.0 inches | Weight: 14.5 oz

Fantastic antenna integration
Robust Sling TV options
Plenty of Android TV apps
Confusing navigation
Leans too heavily on Sling TV
Disappointing remote control

At first, the Dish AirTV Player may seem like a device exclusively to watch Sling TV. That's not the case. In addition to providing a full roster of Android TV apps, the AirTV Player also incorporates broadcast channels right from an HD antenna. If you want a whole host of live channels — some from Sling, some from your local antenna — the AirTV will deliver your favorites in real time.

Read our full Dish AirTV Player review.

MORE: How to Stream Video from a Mobile Device or Computer to a TV

Best for Apple Users

Apple TV 4K

(Image credit: Future)

Apple TV 4K

Best for Apple Users

Number of Apps: Thousands | Size: 4.0 x 4.0 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 15.0 oz

Fantastic 4K HDR content
Intuitive home screen
Simple iOS and macOS integration
Expensive
Fiddly remote
No digital audio or USB ports

The Apple TV 4K delivers everything fans loved about the last iteration of the box, but its 4K HDR support makes it the best streaming device for those in Apple's ecosystem. In addition to watching iTunes movies and TV shows on your big screen, you can watch hundreds of streaming apps, play games, AirPlay content from other Apple devices and even control your smart home devices right from a Siri-enabled remote. The refined voice search gives it an edge over other streaming boxes, but you'll pay a lot for the privilege.

Read our full Apple TV 4K review.

Best Game Console for Streaming

Xbox One S

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox One S

Best Game Console for Streaming

Number of Apps: 50+ | Size: 11.6 x 9.1 x 2.5 inches | Weight: 102.4 oz

Lighter, sleeker chassis
Available with 2TB of storage
Can stream 4K content
HDR support for videos and games
Smartly redesigned controller
Can't play games in 4K

The Xbox One S is only $289, but streams movies and TV in 4K and supports HDR content. It's also going to get Dolby Vision capabilities in the near future, and you can install Kodi on the console, if that's your jam. It also plays 4K Blu-ray movies, unlike any of our other picks.

Read our full Xbox One S review.

How We Test Streaming Devices

Testing streaming players is usually a simple process that prioritizes content over performance. Any streaming player worth its salt can play video well, but only a good one possesses straightforward navigation, robust search features and a wide variety of content to suit all tastes.

The first thing we evaluate is the setup, to see how quick and simple it is. From there, we take the user interface for a spin to see what content gets highlighted, what gets hidden, and how easy it is to navigate to our favorite channels. We'll also watch a few different shows on a variety of channels to gauge the quality of the video and audio.

After that, it's onto the extra features, like gaming, voice search and screen mirroring. These factors don't weigh quite as heavily toward the final score, but they're nice to have if they work well, and extremely distracting if they don't.

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