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7 Best Streaming Devices Of 2023

Amazon, Roku, Chromecast — they all help you stream your favorite content and let you binge yourself to sleep, but is there any difference between them all? Yes. Yes, there is. (And don't binge yourself to sleep; it's bad for your brain — but that's another matter.)

Whether it's ethernet ports for a steadier connection or Dolby vision for that crystal-clear view, there's enough nuance to separate the best streaming devices from each other that it would take a while to compare them all by yourself. That's why we did it for you (you're welcome).

Read on to check out what the best TV streaming devices are, how they stack up to each other and how to choose the right one for you — or just go straight to the device you have in mind from our table of contents if you just want to check a certain one out.

Table Of Contents

Our Top Picks For Streaming Devices

There are so many ways to get your entertainment fix that picking the best streaming device depends greatly on your current setup. For example, Apple users probably aren't going to switch midstream to Android products, so when we say "best streaming device," we don't necessarily mean that any product is the only way to go. We just think they fit well within their niche.

With that, we'll give you the specs for the streaming devices we choose, a description of why we like them and their pros and cons.

Best On A Budget – Roku Express 4K+

The Specs

  • Brand: Roku
  • Processor: Quad-core
  • Video: 4K, 1080p, HDR10+
  • Audio: DTS, Dolby Audio and Dolby Atmos via HDMI passthrough
  • Connectivity: WiFi 5, ethernet port via USB adapter sold separately
  • Remote: Voice remote with TV controls
  • Streaming options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, Hulu, ESPN+ and more

Rated by CNET as the "Best Streaming Device Overall" and Forbes as the "Best Budget-Friendly Streaming Device Overall," the Roku Express 4K+ delivers quality viewing at a price you can afford.

Known for its user-friendly interface and exhaustive search function, this upgrade has all the features that made its ancestor Roku Express a hit. The biggest difference (as its name implies) is that the 4K+ can support 4K HDR for an ultra-high-definition screen resolution — though it doesn't offer Dolby Vision, which was a bit of a disappointment.

We also like that their content platform doesn't seem to favor one service provider over another. That lets viewers choose between Netflix, Hulu or any other streaming service they like and gives them access to many other apps.

The AirPlay update, which lets you connect your iPhone, Mac or other Apple device to your TV, is also supported on the Roku Express 4K+, making this streaming device a great way to link all your products together. And at a typical current price tag of around $40 (actual prices may vary), it's one of the best streaming devices for viewers on a budget.

  • Budget-friendly
  • Compatible with all major streaming services
  • Wide selection of apps
  • 4K, HDR10+ compatible
  • Controllable by Roku mobile app
  • No Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos
  • Slightly lower WiFi speeds

Best From Roku – Roku Ultra

The Specs

  • Brand: Roku
  • Processor: Quad-core
  • Video: 4K, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HD 1080p
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet port, USB port, Bluetooth
  • Remote: Rechargeable remote, voice remote, "Lost Remote" finder
  • Streaming Options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO Max, Hulu, ESPN+ and more

If the Express 4K+ is the best device for streamers on a budget, the Roku Ultra is the streaming giant's best device for viewers who will pay a little more for all the bells and whistles.

One of the features that sets the Ultra apart from Roku's other streaming devices is its remote. This clicker offers hands-free voice commands, a rechargeable battery and a "Lost Remote" command that makes the power stick beep until you find it (first-world problems, but still handy). It also boasts four shortcut buttons to your favorite streaming services and two customizable shortcut buttons so you can easily perform your most often-used commands.

The hardware and connectivity that power the Roku Ultra also make it a fan favorite, as the WiFi 6 network gives the strongest connection and fastest streaming experience that Roku offers to date. The roughly 5-inch hub also features an Ethernet port for a steadier connection, a USB port and a headphone jack on the remote to enable private listening — and the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos capability makes for a viewing experience you can only get at the theaters.

The only downside is that the voice command functionality only applies to Roku devices and can't connect to the rest of your home; if you're into using your voice, there are better options for the price.

Regarding channel selection, the Roku Ultra offers over 300 streaming services to choose from. Some of these are the streaming industry's heavy hitters like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, while others are niche third-party freebies that come with the package. Either way, you're sure to find something to binge.

  • Wide channel selection
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos capability
  • Advanced remote features
  • Higher price
  • Relatively poor-quality voice commands

Best From Google – Chromecast with Google TV

The Specs

  • Brand: Google
  • Processor: Amlogic S905X3 CPU
  • Video: 4K HDR, Dolby Vision­, 1080p HD
  • Audio: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos via HDMI passthrough
  • Connectivity: WiFi 5, Bluetooth
  • Remote: Handheld, voice-command
  • Streaming Options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Apple TV and more.

By upgrading its software to the new Google TV platform and giving viewers a remote with a familiar window-tile interface, Google has upped its game. While previous versions required you to "Cast" your content by linking it to your phone or another Android device, this model gives you the same stick-and-tile experience you're used to when you stream. It may not be anything new, but it's a much-needed UX improvement that makes for a better binge.

As you'd expect, the Chromecast with Google TV is compatible with all things Google, so it fits in beautifully with any Android ecosystem. It links to your Google account and allows access to all the major streaming service players, including Amazon Prime Video. Its search engine isn't as advanced as Roku's, but Google's streaming device does offer over 6,500 other apps from the Android store to compensate.

While it doesn't support AirPlay, the Chromecast with Google TV fits in with your Google Assistant and connects with the rest of your Android devices, including Nest products for smart home automation and even for monitoring outdoor security on your TV.

The Chromecast with Google TV offers 4K HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos if you use an HDMI passthrough. That means you'll get the picture and sound quality you're looking for, though some reviews have reported a slight lag at startup. Overall, Google's streaming upgrade gives high-quality video and audio, a wide channel selection and a streaming system that flows together with all things Android — a solid choice for any streamer.

  • Voice remote connects to Google Assistant
  • Compatible with other Google products
  • Intuitive interface
  • Google account is required
  • Not compatible with all TVs

Best From Amazon – Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

The Specs

  • Brand: Amazon
  • Processor: MediaTek MT8696 quad-core CPU
  • Video: 4K 1080p, Dolby Vision, HDR and HDR10+
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6
  • Remote: Handheld, voice-command
  • Streaming Options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Amazon Music, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Luna game streaming and more

If you've got the need for speed, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the streaming device for you. Powered by WiFi 6 and Eero routers, this upgrade from the Fire TV Stick 4K can deliver a near-seamless streaming experience, even for videos using ultra high-def (UHD). The folks at Amazon claim that this TV streaming device is 40% more powerful than its predecessor, enabling it to deliver faster app startups and more fluid navigation — though you'll need routers that can keep up if you want to take full advantage of all that speed.

In addition to its 4K HDR and Dolby Vision video and Dolby Atmos audio capabilities, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max offers a picture-in-picture playback feature that could be especially useful for sports-loving streamers deciding if the ref messed up the call for that big game. Its remote can also be activated through Amazon Alexa, and the sound system can be linked to Echo speakers for viewers looking for a surround sound experience.

For all its value, the biggest fault many seem to find with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the number of advertisements that scroll through the screen during downtime. That can get old after a while, but other than that, we find the roughly $40 average price to be a good value for the speed, clarity and function that it offers.

  • High speed
  • Picture-in-picture playback
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Echo speakers
  • Too many ads
  • You have to have WiFi 6-capable routers to take advantage of the speed

Best For Gamers – Nvidia Shield Pro

The Specs

  • Brand: Nvidia
  • Processor: NVIDIA Tegra X1+ processor with a 256-core NVIDIA GPU and 2 GB RAM
  • Video: 4K HDR, Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10, AI-enhanced upscaling
  • Audio: Dolby Audio, Dolby Atmos, DTS via HDMI passthrough
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 and CEC support, MicroSD card slot
  • Remote: Handheld, voice-command
  • Streaming Options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, GeForce NOW, VUDU, Amazon Music and more

The Nvidia Shield Pro is one of the best TV streaming devices for gamers. Created by a company that got its start inventing the graphics processing unit (GPU), this streaming device is made for viewers who want more than just to stream their favorite show. It's got a robust content library too, but if that's all you want, the typical $150 to $200 price tag attached to this device probably isn't the best way to go.

The Nvidia Shield Pro comes with a host of functionalities. It's compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; offers 4K HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos; and boasts an AI-powered upscaling ability that sharpens the image of older videos so that they bear a closer resemblance to HD. The Bluetooth-connected remote has backlit buttons and a "Lost Remote" finder like the Roku Ultra.

For all that video and audio AI fanciness, the Nvidia Shield's best capabilities lie in the access it gives to gamers. Not only does it support the Nvidia GeForce Now game streaming service, but it also hooks gamers up with Steam, a now software-only way to get games from your console to your screen. The Shield Pro is also compatible with the Android game store, so gamers will have no problem finding their favorite title.

  • Compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
  • Advanced audio and video features
  • Multiple platforms designed for gamers
  • Sleek design
  • Expensive
  • Overkill for non-gamers

Best From Apple – Apple TV 4K

The Specs

  • Brand: Apple
  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip
  • Video: Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HDR, 1080p HD
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth
  • Remote: Handheld, voice-command
  • Streaming Options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Apple TV, Apple Fitness+, ITV, All4 and more

Just as the Chromecast with Google TV is the TV streaming device for viewers living in the Android world, the second-generation Apple TV 4K is for those who prefer all things Apple. Other than the upgrade to the A15 Bionic processor and the conversion from the Lightning connector to the USB-C, they haven't changed much from their parent device, but when you've got a good thing going, why mess with success?

The most notable feature of the Apple TV 4K is its Apple compatibility, as it seamlessly integrates into the rest of the iUniverse. The experience of an Apple TV 4K is similar to what you'll find if you use the Apple TV+ app on an iPhone, mobile device or Mac — something you can't say about other non-Apple devices.

Apple's TV streaming device can also be easily linked to other Apple products in your home, like the HomePod Mini smart speakers or other HomeKit products. It syncs up smoothly with Airplay, so you can mirror content from other devices onto your TV — including photos and videos.

On top of its Apple compatibility, the Apple TV 4K also offers all sorts of extra content from other branches of the Apple tree. Some examples might be exercise videos on Apple Fitness+, Angry Birds Reloaded on Apple Arcade or your favorite tunes on Apple Music. Between all that and the razor-sharp audio and video that 4K HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos provide, Apple users are sure to get binge-worthy content with all the clarity they could ask for — even if the price tag is a little steeper than other streaming devices.

  • Compatible with all things Apple
  • Extra content
  • Intuitive UX for Apple users
  • Slightly higher price
  • Not much new from its predecessor

Best For Home Theater – Roku Streambar Pro

The Specs

  • Brand: Roku
  • Processor: Quad-core
  • Video: 4K, 1080p, HDR10 and HDR
  • Audio: Dolby Audio
  • Connectivity: WiFi 5, Bluetooth, Ethernet via USB adaptor (sold separately)
  • Remote: Handheld, voice-command
  • Streaming Options: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and more

If you're looking to upgrade the sound system in your home theater and level up your streaming device at the same time, the Roku Streambar Pro can help you kill two birds with one stone.

Roku's upgrade to its parent device, the Roku Streambar, has four 2.5-inch speakers (the Streambar's were 1.9-inch) and delivers clearer dialogue comparable to Yamaha's similarly-sized C20 speakers. It also quiets loud commercials, offers Dolby Audio capabilities and smooths out your auditory experience with volume leveling and night mode.

The Roku Streambar Pro's remote features several of the Roku Ultra's functionalities. It has a headphone jack for private listening and personal shortcut buttons, but if you want the "Lost Remote" finder, you'll need Roku's mobile app.

You'll get the same streaming options with the Streambar Pro that you've come to expect from Roku, with all the major players plus plenty more. Both Streambar models can connect with AirPlay 2 as well, so you'll be able to link your streaming-soundbar hybrid to your other Apple devices.

As nice as the conversational clarity is, we have two complaints about this device: the subwoofer and the price. The larger speakers and remote functions are nice, and we appreciate the crisp dialogue that the Streambar delivers, but if you're looking for that heavy bass to place you in the middle of all those explosions, you'll need a deeper subwoofer than what this streaming device can offer.

Also, the Streambar Pro is about $179 on average — about $100 more than its predecessor. If you still need to amp up your sound system, is it worth shelling out an extra Benjamin? If you need a streaming device and an improved sound system, this would be the route to go, but it might not be enough to make all your audio dreams come true.

  • Two-in-one streaming device/soundbar functionality
  • Improved remote features
  • Clear dialogue
  • Bass is lacking
  • Relatively expensive

Other Streaming Devices We Considered

There are too many streaming devices for us to cover them all, so here's a quick look at a few options we considered and why we left them off the list.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K. This device has earned a place in plenty of reviews, and while its low price and great functionality made us think about adding it to the list, there's not enough difference between the Roku Express 4K+ to warrant distinguishing between the two. It's got Dolby Vision, has a longer WiFi range and costs slightly less, but past that, if you know about the Express 4K+, you know about this device.

Chromecast with Google TV HD. Some reviews named this streaming device the best option out there if you want to stream in HD. So why didn't we put it on our list? It's really just the HD version of the Chromecast with Google TV device that we told you about, except without the 4K abilities. Why tell you the same thing twice?

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It's a great value for its price, but the roughly $10 difference isn't enough to make you forfeit the extra features. You might not have the router to support the WiFi 6 that the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max can run on, but the picture-in-picture playback could be worth the extra cash.

Streaming Device Guide

Lists like these let you know what's out there, but that doesn't help much if you don't have a solid way to narrow down your choice. This guide can help with that.

How To Pick The Right Device

Several factors can come into play when you decide on the best streaming devices for you, like:

  • Compatibility. If you've already set up your tech ecosystem to be exclusively Apple or Android, this factor might make your choice. Some streaming devices don't play well with others, so make sure yours aligns with the rest of your tech first.
  • Application. How you use your streaming device will go a long way in determining which one is best. Want to be the fastest streamer around? Go with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Looking to bolster your home theater with better sound? Try the Roku Streambar. Application is huge when choosing the best TV streaming devices, so think about what you need it to do.
  • Price. We're happy for you if you're the kind of buyer who doesn't have to look at a price tag, but cost matters to the rest of us. The advanced functionality of the Nvidia Shield Pro might be worth it if you can afford to spring for a $150 to $200 device, but if you're on a budget, the Roku Express 4K+ would be better — or even one of our "Honorable Mention" devices that we mentioned (honorably) in the previous section.

User-friendliness is another factor, as some streaming devices are more intuitive than others. This one's especially important if you've got multiple streamers in your home, as not everyone is as tech-savvy as you.

How Streaming Devices Differ From A Streaming Service

There's a difference between a streaming device and a streaming service. Maybe you already knew that, but if not, you'd be in for an unpleasant surprise when you buy your Roku or Fire TV Stick and found yourself locked out of your most beloved shows.

The biggest difference between the two is that a streaming device constitutes a physical piece of technology, while a streaming service is a digital platform that lets you access shows, music and other apps. A streaming device might give you access to a few ad-supported free content platforms (All4 and ITV Hub are two), but having one doesn't make major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV or Amazon Prime Video available. You'd need a subscription for those — and most other streaming services too.

Top Streaming Devices: A Comparison View

Compatibility, application, price — there's a lot to take in when you're comparing the best streaming devices for TV. Instead of spewing all that information at you, here's a table to help you compare all our choices side by side.

Note: the prices are from each manufacturer's website, so we can't guarantee that you'll find each product at that exact price online or at your local store. Hopefully, you'll catch a sale.

Roku Express 4K+    

average price: $39.99

Dolby capability: Dolby Audio, Dolby Atmos

Remote Features: Voice command, TV controls

Best overall   

Roku Ultra

Avg. price: $69.99

Dolby capability: Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos

Remote Features: Rechargeable batteries, voice command, "Lost Remote" finder, headphone jack for private listening

Chromecast with Google TV

Avg. price: $29.99

Best for Android users

Dolby capability: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos via HDMI passthrough

Remote Features: Handheld, voice command

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Avg. price: $34.99


Dolby capability: Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos

Remote Features: Handheld, voice command

Nvidia Shield Pro

Avg. price: $174.99               

Best for gamers

Dolby capability: Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Audio

Remote Features: Handheld, voice command, backlit buttons, remote locator, Bluetooth-compatible

Apple TV 4K 

Avg. price: $129.99

Best for Apple users

Dolby capability: Dolby Vision, Dolby Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 7.1 plus surround sound

Remote Features: Handheld, voice command, rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth-compatible

Roku Streambar Pro

Avg. price: $179.99

Dolby capability: Dolby Audio

Remote Features: Handheld, voice command, headphone jack for private listening

How We Chose The Best Streaming Devices Of 2023

A lot goes into determining which TV streaming devices should make the list. Aside from all the physical testing — usability, actual streaming speed, etc. — we tried to put ourselves in your shoes and ask which device would work for the most common streaming applications. That means we looked at a lot of the same parameters that you'd consider, like:

  • Compatibility with other devices
  • Price
  • Application (gaming, home theaters, etc.)
  • Other popular reviews
  • Much more

We also tried to factor in where we think the industry is headed. A device with 4K HDR10+ may not be necessary for your current TV, but if it will be for your next one (and it probably will), wouldn't it be best to prepare for that change now? Industry trends, performance testing and even the technical specs should all be part of a good review, and we tried to cover as many of those bases as possible. You're welcome!

Best Streaming Devices FAQ

Are smart TVs required for using a streaming device?


No, but it depends on how old your TV is. Assuming your TV has the ports necessary to connect to one, you should be able to hook up your streaming device just fine. If not and you have one of those bulbous analog TVs from the Stone Age, you're probably not going to be able to hook up a streaming device anywhere — and you need to move into the 21st century.

Why do I need a streaming device if I have a smart TV?


It's true that smart TVs can cover most of the bases that a streaming device could, but they may not always provide everything you want. Certain channels may not be available on some smart TVs, others may lack the casting abilities or apps that some users prefer, and some devices like the Nvidia Shield have processors better suited for gaming.

Are streaming devices connected to WiFi separately?


Yes. Streaming devices will consume some of your WiFi bandwidth when used, so you'll need an internet connection that can live up to the same expectations you place on your device.

Are streaming devices pricier than streaming services?


Comparing the two can be difficult because one is an upfront expense while the other is recurring. Streaming devices can range from $25 to $200, but you won't be paying a monthly subscription fee. Meanwhile, streaming services like Hulu could go for as little as $7.99/month or over $75.99/month for their ad-free version.

You also won't necessarily be able to use a streaming service just because you have a streaming device; you might get some free ad-supported content, but you'll still need to pay for major-player subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu or Sling TV.

Summary Of Digg's Best Streaming Devices Of 2023

Nowadays if you're looking for the best TV streaming devices, you've got plenty of options to consider. Apple users might want to stay within their ecosystem and go with an Apple TV 4K, and Android users would probably go with a Chromecast with Google TV to do the same.

Other streamers with specific applications like gaming or home theater improvement might consider the Nvidia Shield Pro or the Roku Streambar, respectively, and still others might prefer a value package and go with the Express 4K+ — or perhaps an "Honorable Mention" device. Whatever your needs, chances are there's a streaming device that's right for you.