The Best TV Streaming Players
There are so many different TV streaming devices around these days, it’s hard to know which one to pick. Many are similar prices, but does that mean they all do the same thing? Take a look through the guide below to help you make the right decision on which TV streaming player to go for.
There is one thing that other streaming devices just cannot compete with when it comes to Chromecast: price. It’s the cheapest of the lot, but the low cost does mean that the device is lacking in areas that others excel. Plug it into your HDMI port for quick and easy streaming of Netflix, Hulu, whatever you fancy – but bear in mind that you do need a PC/tablet/smartphone in order to access the content, and that merely plugging it in will not provide you with this.
Available for £29.99 at Amazon
Now experienced veterans of the TV streaming industry, Roku has this year released the third incarnation of its set-top streaming device. A remote with voice search (to cut down on typing and scrolling), and a headphone jack for listening in private, are features that set it above its competition. The box also houses a microSD card slot for extra game storage. However, its predecessor (Roku 2) is cheaper and works similarly, so do your research before buying.
Available for £92 at Amazon
Roku also offers a much cheaper baby sister to the set-top box in the form of the Roku Streaming Stick, which is packed with similar features as the Roku 3, but is missing the headphone jack and microSD card slot. It also has a slower processor, meaning shows and films are likely to take longer to load.
Available for £39.99 at Amazon
GOOGLE NEXUS PLAYER
Teaming up with Asus to create this set-top box, this device is towards the higher end of the market and is a closer rival to other boxes such as Roku 3, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV than Chromecast was. The Nexus Player does not rely on another device (such as a tablet) to work it, instead housing its own hardware inside the box. While navigation is quick and you can pair it with Chromecast if you also happen to own this, the app selection is fairly limited at the moment and you can only use Google Play to search – which is more annoying than you might first think.
Available for £79.99 at Amazon
AMAZON FIRE TV
Just over a year old now, the Amazon Fire TV box has made huge waves on the TV streaming scene. Overall, the device is pretty decent – the remote works well, it’s fast to load up apps and you’re also able to buy a controller to play a range of games from the box. However, the setup process can be fairly tedious and there are no apps pre-installed. If you have a subscription to Netflix or Hulu Plus then you’ll benefit from the box, but to get its full potential you’ll need a premium account with Amazon Prime.
Available for £79 at Amazon
As with Roku, Amazon offers a smaller, cheaper model that can be plugged into the HDMI port. Unlike Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV Streaming Stick has all the software on board, meaning no extra devices are needed to use it. With the same interface as the Fire TV, most users are unlikely to notice a difference in speed times, even though the stick has a much smaller processor. Playing games will likely be a struggle, though, so if you’re purchasing for this reason then consider spending a little more.
Available for £35 at Amazon
Apple TV is getting on a bit now. The latest incarnation of the device was introduced way back in 2012, and there have not been any announcements to update the piece of kit any time soon, so you may find yourself stuck a few years behind of the crowd if you opt for this. Having said that, it’s still incredibly appealing for a few reasons. The design of the box is extremely sleek and the device is controlled using a very simple remote (included). The interface of Apple TV is smooth and well laid-out, and can also pair to your iOS device to control the TV over Wi-Fi.
Available for £59 at Amazon
If you have a relatively low budget, and aren’t looking to play full-on games on your TV, then plump for the Amazon Fire TV Streaming Stick. It’s a little more expensive than Chromecast, but you don’t need a tablet, phone or PC to run the apps from it. Apple TV works as a decent mid-range streaming device and is sleek to use, but don’t expect any updates soon. If you’re planning on going all-out with the spend, you have a few options. For the voice control and private watching capabilities, your best bet is the more expensive Roku 3. But if you’re already subscribed to Amazon Prime, then it makes perfect sense to opt for the Fire TV.