There are lots of ways to stream online content directly to your TV, including simple set-top boxes, compact streaming sticks and powerful game consoles. For the largest selection with minimum fuss, the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($70) is the way to go, plus it packs 4K streaming. If your tastes skew minimalist, you can also check out the newly redesigned Google Chromecast ($35), which matches a streamlined feature set with a low price tag.
News and Updates (January 2019)
- The Apple TV and Chromecast cannot play the new interactive Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch.
- The Xiaomi Mi Box S is an affordable streaming box, but our in-depth review highlights the flaws that explain its price.
- Check out our review of the Roku TV Wireless Speakers, which provide good sound for the Roku family of streaming devices.
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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