As 4K televisions have hit the market, streaming hardware has been released to pair with them. You've got tons of options at your fingertips, enough so that it can be difficult figuring out where to start. We can help - we'll go over some of the best streaming devices on the market.
- Perfect for PC Gamers: Nvidia Shield TV
- Stream on Android: Chromecast Ultra
- Simple and Powerful: Roku Ultra
- Stream on iOS: Apple TV 4K (64 GB)
- Prime Viewing With Amazon: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- 4K Streaming Plus Amazon Echo: Amazon Fire TV Cube
- Stream and Game: Xbox One X
Nvidia Shield TV
Designed for Android TVs, the Nvidia Shield is among the most powerful dedicated streaming devices on the market. Running off Nvidia's Tegra X1+ processor, the Shield supports a wide range of audio and video standards and even allows you to stream games directly from your PC to your TV (provided you have an Nvidia graphics card). What's more, you can access pretty much all the major media streaming apps, along with GeForce Now, which gives you access to a huge library of games for just a small fee monthly.
If you want to control your 4K television with your Android smartphone, there's no better choice than Google's own proprietary hardware. It's basically a souped-up Chromecast, with slightly better specs, an ethernet port, and support for 4K and HDR. As with the standard Chromecast, you can also stream from an iPhone or cast from Google Chrome on any device.
4K streaming isn't the only draw of the Roku Ultra, which is probably the easiest device on the list as far as usability is concerned. Compared to the Roku stick, it's got a faster processor, an ethernet port, a USB port, and a MicroSD slot. There's also a headphone jack in the remote, in case you're trying to keep noise to a minimum - the box includes JBL headphones to take advantage of that.
Apple TV 4K (64 GB)
As with other Apple products, the Apple TV 4K integrates seamlessly into the Mac/iOS ecosystem, with support for 4K, Dolby Digital Surround 7.1, and HDR10/Dolby Vision HDR. The remote also includes voice search functionality via Siri.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
The Fire TV stick is basically Amazon's answer to the Chromecast. It's got a remote equipped powerful voice search functionality thanks to Amazon Alexa, and an excellent on-screen interface that makes finding content to watch a breeze. The 4K Fire Stick supports 4K HDR, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos, though it doesn't support Dolby Vision and cannot access content from iTunes or Vudu.
Amazon Fire TV Cube
The Fire TV Cube offers all the functionality of one of Amazon's Echo smart speakers, allowing it to interface with any other Alexa-enabled devices in your home. That aside, it does pretty much everything the Fire TV Stick can do.
Xbox One X
Microsoft's Xbox One console was originally intended less as a game system and more as a multimedia device - and it shows. It supports a wide range of streaming apps and channels, including Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime Video, and Sling TV. Sure, it might not compete with some of the other devices on the list in terms of multimedia selection, but it's still a powerful console with a library of games you can't find elsewhere.
Our Personal Recommendations
If you own a desktop PC with an Nvidia graphics card, the Nvidia Shield TV is a no-brainer. It's got the same streaming capabilities as the other devices on the list and augments that with access to Nvidia's huge library of PC games. Better yet, the capacity to stream from your PC to your TV using the game controller included in the box means you can relax on your couch while you game, rather than scrunching up at your desk.
For those of you with an Alexa-enabled smart home (or who are looking to set one up), the Fire TV Cube is the way to go. It combines the functionality of the Fire TV Stick with an Amazon Echo Speaker, for all your Alexa-related needs.
Finally, if you (like most people) own an Android device and use Google Chrome, the Chromecast Ultra won't disappoint. The ability to cast directly from the Google Chrome browser means you can stream a nearly infinite selection of content, and the fact that you can control your TV from your phone (almost) makes up for the lack of remote control.
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