Best Streaming Devices 2019
Our editors hand-picked these products based on our tests and reviews.
The best TV streamer -- if you're willing to spend up
Apple TV 4K
8.7 (CNET SCORE)
With more features and capabilities than you'll ever use, as well as Amazon video (finally!), Dolby Vision capability and overall superb performance and design, the Apple TV 4K is the best streamer on the market for those who want to afford it.
- The Apple TV 4K delivers the best streaming video available to compatible 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision TVs. It offers the most polished streaming experience today, the best remote on the market and excellent Siri voice options. It's just $30, £30 or AU$40 more than the non-4K box.
- The Apple TV 4K is expensive. It doesn't stream YouTube in 4K or offer Dolby Atmos audio. Cheaper streaming devices from Roku and others offer similar image quality and capabilities, as well as more 4K apps.
- If you can swing the price and want the best streamer available today, get the Apple TV 4K.
Best streamer for Alexa fans
Amazon Fire TV (2017)
8.3 (CNET SCORE)
The Fire TV is very good for everyone, but the best reason to choose it over Roku is if you have an Alexa speaker and want to use its superior voice control in your system.
- The Amazon Fire TV serves up 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. Its voice features are best-in-class, and Echo and Dot owners can control it hands-free with "Alexa" commands. App and game selection is superb, responses are lightning-fast and video quality is as good as any streamer.
- The user interface pushes Amazon content too aggressively and doesn't allow customization. Fewer 4K HDR apps than Roku, and finding 4K content is more difficult.
- Although Roku's 4K stick is slightly better overall, the Fire TV wins with Alexa devotees who own 4K HDR TVs.
Crazy-cheap streamer is plenty fast enough to satisfy
Roku Express (2017)
8.2 (CNET SCORE)
You expect a streamer this cheap to suck somehow, but the Express does not. It's plenty-fast, packed with apps and unlike Chromecast, actually includes a remote control. All you need to stream, nothing you don't.
- The Roku Express is ultra-affordable, easy to use and packed with streaming apps. Unlike last year, it loads menus, apps and videos quickly.
- The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts.
- Quick, simple and less expensive than the competition, the Roku Express is the perfect basic streamer.
Best budget streamer with voice
Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
8.2 (CNET SCORE)
Want to talk to your TV, and have your TV talk back? If you have a 4K TV, choose the higher-rated Fire TV above. But if you're on a tight budget and don't care about 4K, the basic stick is a great choice.
- The $40 Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote is one of the least expensive devices to stream video from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Sling TV and other online services. It's just as responsive as other devices, meaning it's lightning-fast, and charges less for an included voice remote.
- The current user interface pushes Amazon content too aggressively. Alexa is less useful than with always-on devices. Unlike Roku there's no dedicated app for any other a la carte video service, like Vudu or Fandango Now, beyond Amazon's.
- The fast, affordable new Fire TV stick is great for fans of Amazon who'll use its voice capabilities, and an excellent value, but it's still not as good as Roku.
Best streamer for geeks, gamers
Nvidia Shield (2017)
8.0 (CNET SCORE)
Sure, it's relatively expensive, but the do-it-all Shield belongs in the same conversation with other top-tier streamers. And if you can use its myriad other gaming, file-sharing and similarly geeky functions, it could be worth the extra money.
- The 2017 Nvidia Shield Android TV streaming box offers just about every must-have app, including Amazon Video, and many include 4K along with HDR. It's a versatile gaming platform with an improved controller. Voice search and interactivity, from controller or remote, work well. It will soon get Google Assistant.
- More expensive than competing streamers. Not as many 4K and HDR apps as Roku, and no access to first-tier games without streaming from a PC.
- The 2017 Nvidia Shield is better than ever, and the addition of Amazon finally makes it a viable high-end alternative to Roku.
Best streamer for old TVs
Roku Express Plus (2017)
8.0 (CNET SCORE)
If your TV lacks HDMI inputs, you don't have very many choices in streaming device. The Express+ is the best, delivering Roku's superb app ecosystem, ease of use and even free cables.
- The Roku Express Plus is one of the only ways to add Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube and more to an old TV. It's ultra-affordable, easy to use and packed with streaming apps.
- Since there's no wired Ethernet option, it needs a solid Wi-Fi signal to work properly.
- If you want to stream video to an old TV, your best (and pretty much only) option is the Roku Express Plus.
Best value for phone-centric users
Google Chromecast (2015)
7.9 (CNET SCORE)
If you can watch it on your phone or tablet or computer, the dirt-cheap Chromecast can probably put it on your TV. The downside? There's no separate remote, so you'll need your phone or tablet or computer to use it. Or your Google Home speaker.
- The Google Chromecast is a dirt-cheap wireless video dongle that streams Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, HBO Now and thousands of other apps and games to your TV using an Android or Apple phone or tablet, or a PC, as the controller. Its small size hides neatly behind your TV and makes it easy to take with you when traveling, and the new version adds compatibility with 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.
- The lack of a dedicated remote means you always need a smartphone, tablet or PC nearby to use it. Slightly more expensive boxes and sticks, with their physical remotes, tactile buttons and onscreen displays, are more convenient to use. The only way to watch Amazon videos is by streaming from a PC.
- The innovative Chromecast might be the ultimate living-room accessory for your phone or tablet, but more traditional streaming devices deliver a better streaming experience.
All of the 4K HDR streaming goodness, none of the fluff
Roku Streaming Stick Plus
9.2 (CNET SCORE)
Lightning-fast responses, oodles of apps and a dead-simple interface help propel Roku's streamers to the top of our lists. This 4K HDR streamer is so good and affordable you might want one even if you don't (yet) own a 4K HDR TV.
- The Roku Streaming Stick Plus delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. Its dead-simple interface puts every streaming service on a level playing field. Roku has more 4K HDR apps and better search than competitors. Its responses are lightning-fast, its video quality as good as any streamer, and its remote can control your TV's volume and power.
- The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts. Voice search and control is worse than some competitors.
- With its simple design and focus on features you'll actually use, Roku's affordable 4K HDR streamer is one you should get.
The best streamer if you don't want 4K or HDR
Roku Streaming Stick 2017
8.4 (CNET SCORE)
The Roku Streaming Stick is an excellent choice if you couldn't care less about 4K and want to declutter your coffee table of remotes.
- The Roku Streaming Stick streams Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and the rest in an ultra-compact design for an affordable price. Its remote can control your TV's volume and power. Responses are lightning-fast. The simple menus put every streaming service on a level playing field and offer more apps and better search than competitors.
- The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts. Voice search and control is worse than Fire TV.
- For buyers who don't care about 4K or HDR streaming, the Roku Streaming Stick is the best player on the market.