Today’s best streaming devices run rings around even very good ones from just a few years ago. The latest models are more compact and responsive than their predecessors, and they support a wide range of streaming services—including some that might be new to you. Many of our picks cost less than $100, making it affordable for you to add a 4K streamer to your new 4K UHD TV and get access to all the streaming services that were missing in the TV’s own streaming software.
These streaming devices are also a great way to augment your existing smart TV. Tired of the adverts on your TV? Disconnect its Wi-Fi and access everything through a streamer instead. Find your TV’s built-in streaming interface frustrating? Add an external streamer from among one of the options from Roku, Amazon, Google or Nvidia to access your favorite services with a more agreeable interface.
We performed extensive research into each of the top streaming devices, combining in-depth hands-on experience and third-party reviews to put together our list of the best streaming devices you can buy in 2022.
Best Budget-Friendly 4K Streaming Device
A Mainstream Stick With All The Important Features
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO Max, Hulu, ESPN+ and more.
Voice-controlled remote control
Private listening functionality
Supports Apple AirPlay
Lacks gaming services
No Dolby Atmos audio
Who it’s for: With the widest range of popular and niche video streaming services, the Roku’s breadth can satisfy the needs of most discerning viewers at a reasonable price.
This Roku streaming stick can serve up 4K resolution content, and supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ when those High Dynamic Range image technologies are used by a given streaming service. The included Voice Remote Control Pro uses a rechargeable battery; has a lost remote finder; and works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri.
The voice-enabled remote means you either press buttons on the remote or use voice commands to quickly find the programming you want to watch. As with Roku’s standard voice remote, Voice Remote Pro has a headphone jack and integrated Bluetooth wireless so you can connect your choice of wired or wireless headphones for private listening instead of using the TV’s speakers. This streaming device supports Apple AirPlay so you can stream media from your Apple phone or tablet, or mirror the screen from your Apple device on your television.
Best Full-Featured 4K Streaming Device Overall
The Ultimate Streaming Experience For Under $100
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO Max, Hulu, ESPN+ and more.
Supports Dolby Atmos audio
Ethernet connection for speedy connections
No game streaming
Remote lacks USB-C charging
Who it’s for: With all of the features of the Roku stick and more, this model is ideal for avid TV viewers who wants the best features and functions that the Roku streaming platform has to offer.
The nearly 5-inch square Roku Ultra is larger than the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+. It shares the same core feature set as the Streaming Stick 5k, but the extra physical space allows room for additional functionality over less expensive Roku models. For one, it has an Ethernet port at back, so you can use a cable between the device and your modem to ensure a steady and fast connection. It also adds Dolby Atmos audio support in addition to Dolby Vision and HDR10+ image technologies.
The Roku Ultra connects to your TV via an HDMI cable. This 2022 update is physically the same as the prior generation, but adds Roku’s newest Voice Remote Pro. It also has a handy remote finder feature so you’ll never have to hunt for your remote control again. As with all Roku devices, you’ll be able to access the widest breadth of streaming video services. While the Roku platform has some standalone games, it lacks support for game services.
Best Amazon Fire TV 4K Streaming Device
Turns Any TV Into A Smart TV
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Amazon Music, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and more.
Plugs into a TV using either a USB or HDMI connection
Includes Dolby Vision and HDR10+ image and Dolby Atmos audio technologies
Uses Wi-Fi 6 for ultra-fast wireless
No Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast support
Displays advertising on the Home Screen and screensaver
Who it’s for: Amazon Prime Video and Prime Music subscribers who want to enjoy those services and more on a television.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max improves upon the less expensive Fire TV Stick 4K by adding speedy Wi-Fi 6 wireless. As the latest Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6 allows for a faster and more reliable wireless connection when streaming content from the internet. However, you only see that speed boost if you’re using a router equipped with Wi-Fi 6.
Beyond being able to showcase 4K resolution content, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max can display programming that uses Dolby Vision and HDR10+ High Dynamic Range image technologies and immersive Dolby Atmos audio when available on Netflix, Disney+ or Prime Video titles. The remote control that comes with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max can be controlled using Amazon’s Alexa voice commands. A nifty feature is picture-in-picture playback. The stick can be paired with compatible Echo speakers so you can have audio stream through those speakers instead of your television.
Best 4K Streaming Device For Android (And Google) Fans
Makes It Easy To Cast Content To Your TV
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Apple TV and more.
Works seamlessly with YouTubeTV to access popular broadcast channels and live programming (subscription required)
Voice remote uses Google Assistant
Finding and accessing programming is very easy
Free Google account required to use it
Not compatible with all TVs
Who it’s for: A no-brainer for YouTubeTV users, the Chromecast is also a great choice if you already use an Android mobile device or rely on Google Nest home products.
The Google Chromecast with Google TV is a gateway to free content as well as content you pay for via services like Disney+, Paramount+ and Netflix—all from within the Google TV app. The app pulls content from these services so you can search based on what you want, not the service. This approach simplifies finding TV shows, movies and live programming.
Although 4K is not part of its name, this model—the only one currently sold by Google—streams at up to 4K resolution. The device plugs into the HDMI port of your TV and connects to your home’s Wi-Fi. Interact with Chromecast using the included voice remote control and Google Assistant voice commands. It is also compatible with other apps and devices in the Google ecosystem. For example, you can see the live video feeds from these devices right on your TV Google’s Nest Video Doorbell and Nest Outdoor Cams. You can also display your photos and videos from your Android-based smartphone or tablet on TV with a few taps on your mobile device.
Best 4K Streaming Device for Apple Users
A Must For Apple Computer And Mobile Users
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Apple TV, Apple Fitness+, ITV, All4 and more.
Seamless integration with the AppleTV+ service
Works well with Apple ecosystem
Supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision image and Dolby Atmos audio technologies
More expensive than many other streaming devices
Not ideal for non-Apple users
Who it’s for: Apple device users who already use the Apple TV+ app and also want to be able to stream content from their devices onto their TV.
The Apple TV 4K stands out for its integration with all things Apple. This becomes obvious immediately: If you already use the Apple TV+ app on a mobile device or computer, the Apple TV+ experience on Apple TV 4K looks and feels familiar, unlike on non-Apple devices. Beyond gaining a smoother Apple TV+ experience, the Apple TV 4K has an edge if you already have a home filled with Apple products. The Apple TV 4K works smoothly with other Apple devices—including Apple HomePod Mini smart speakers, Apple HomeKit products and the Apple iPhone Control mobile app. For example, you can easily stream or mirror content from your other Apple devices—including photos and videos—onto your TV using Apple AirPlay, or output TV audio to you HomePod speakers.
This 4K streaming set-top box supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 image and Dolby Atmos audio technologies. The remote includes an Apple Siri button for voice commands. In addition to offering the most popular streaming services, Apple TV 4K provides a range of exclusive content from Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, Apple Music and Apple Arcade.
Best Budget-Friendly Amazon Fire TV 4K Streaming Stick
Stream On a Budget, Still Get 4K Video
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, Apple Fitness+, ITV, All4 and more.
Supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+ image and Dolby Atmos audio technologies
Great “starter” device for transforming a TV into a smart TV
No Wi-Fi 6 support
No picture-in-picture support
Who it’s for: Amazon Prime Video users who want to transform a basic TV into a smart TV without spending a fortune, yet still gain access to most popular streaming services and networks.
The Amazon Fire TV 4K streaming stick is one of the best deals available for a 4K Ultra HD resolution streaming device. It lacks the faster Wi-Fi 6 of the Fire TV 4K Max, but it does include a remote control with Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant built-in. Like the Max, the remote control includes TV controls and shortcut buttons for Prime Video, Netflix, Disney + and Hulu. It also supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+ image and Dolby Atmos audio technologies when watching compatible content.
This version of the Amazon Fire TV 4K plugs directly into the HDMI port of your TV. Unlike the pricier Fire TV 4K Max, this model lacks support for picture-in-picture playback.
Best Budget-Friendly Streaming Device Overall
A Low-Cost Streamer You Can Control From Your Phone
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, Hulu, ESPN+ and more.
Works with all popular streaming services
Control device with Roku mobile app
Lacks Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
Slower Wi-Fi speeds
Who it’s for: This inexpensive 4K streaming stick transforms a basic TV into a smart TV via Roku’s popular and vast gateway to video streaming services.
The Roku Express 4K+ is the best budget-friendly choice if you want the functionality that Roku is known for, combined with support for 4K HDR10+ programming. The device comes with the Roku Voice Remote, so you can control it and find programming using voice commands.
Like the other Roku devices in this roundup, this streamer works with Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants. You’re also able to stream content from your computer or mobile device to your TV via Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay. When it comes to programming, you get unlimited access to The Roku Channel, plus hundreds of streaming services, streaming channels, or streaming TV networks (some of which require a paid subscription)—same as you would with Roku’s pricier options.
Best TV Streaming Device For Gamers
A Powerful Streamer With The Best Gaming
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, GeForce NOW, VUDU, Amazon Music and more.
Play games on your TV via the GeForce NOW streaming service
Excellent 4K resolution upscaling from 720p or 1080p programming
Supports Dolby Vision image technologies and Chromecast casting
More expensive than average streamer
Does not include a game controller
Who it’s for: Avid gamers will appreciate the game-centric functionality built into this 4K streaming device—but those features come at a premium.
The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is more than just a run-of-the-mill video streaming device. It’s also a powerful game streaming device. The Shield can install games from the Google Play Store, or you can stream games remotely from your own local network gaming PC if it’s equipped with a compatible Nvidia GTX or RTX graphics card. It is also unique in that it supports Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming service to play some of the world’s most popular AAA and independent games—no gaming PC required. The Shield TV Pro has two USB ports and Bluetooth, and it fully supports popular gamepads and controllers, leaving the choice of what to use up to you.
Outside of gaming, the Shield TV Pro offers full support for 4K movies and TV shows using HDR10 and Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range image technologies, and Dolby Atmos audio. Nvidia’s impressive AI upscaling can make standard 720p and 1080p HD content look much closer to 4K than traditional sharpening features. The Shield TV Pro has built-in voice control using Google Assistant, and it connects to both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Best Streaming Device For Home Theaters
A Soundbar and Streamer In One
Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and more.
Add terrific surround sound to most any TV
Includes full Roku streaming capabilities
Voice remote with personal shortcuts
Weak bass, with no subwoofer option
Lacks Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support
Who it’s for: This soundbar fits under your TV and provides surround sound audio and Roku streaming capabilities in one space-saving package.
If you have a 4K TV that’s not yet a smart TV—and it also needs better sound—you can fix these two issues at once with the Roku Streambar Pro. This awesome sounding soundbar also has the Roku 4K streaming platform built-in, so you don’t need a separate streaming device. The soundbar supports Dolby Audio via its four 2.5-inch full-range drivers, so it’ll nicely fill a room with sound.
The vast range of streaming services is the same as that found in dedicated Roku streamers. This model lags a bit in its codec support, though; it supports 4K HDR10, but not HDR10+ or Dolby Vision.
The device comes with a variant of the Roku Voice Remote, distinguished by the inclusion of handy personal shortcuts. The Streambar Pro connects to your TV via HDMI and an optical digital audio cable. If you want to stream music or video from an Apple device, you can do so using AirPlay 2.
Frequently Asked Questions About Streaming Devices
How Do Streaming Devices Work?
Streaming devices use your home internet connection to connect your TV to a range of streaming services, including heavyweights Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix. Each manufacturer has its own interface—an alternative operating system, if you will—for navigating streaming service options, finding content, and accessing video and audio settings.
Most current TVs have connected “smart” features that include access to several streaming services. Dedicated streaming devices are often faster, and stand out for their more robust and updated selection of streaming services.
Do Streaming Devices Require A Monthly Subscription?
The streaming devices themselves don’t, but the streaming services you connect to through them usually do. All4 and ITV Hub, for example, have ad-supported free models, while premium services like Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix are exclusively subscription based.
Each streaming service requires its own account and log-in using a dedicated app or channel installed on the streaming device.
Which Services Can I Access From Streaming Devices?
The best streaming devices support anywhere from dozens to hundreds of video streaming services. Some of the most popular ones are accessible via most of the devices. including: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, YouTube Premium, Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock and Curiosity Stream.
In addition to video streaming services, some devices support game streaming services like GeForce NOW, Google Stadia and Amazon Luna.
Are Streaming Devices Worth It?
Streaming devices do offer a better experience. Typically such dedicated devices are more responsive and have a more friendly user interface than found on Smart TV. Plus, streaming devices open the door to a wider variety of niche video streaming services, and to game streaming services.
Streaming devices also frequently have features not usually found in a Smart TV. For example, the device can be a conduit to use Bluetooth headphones with your TV. The included remote control may integrate voice controls for orally navigating playback options. Some streaming devices also integrate with smart home assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant.