Best Streaming TV Devices 2022

CableTV.com reviews the top devices that'll help you get the most out of streaming TV.

Best overall

Roku Ultra

Price: $66.01
Video: 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Best for Android users

Chromecast with Google TV

Price: $49.99
Video: 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Best for Alexa

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Price: $79.99
Video: 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Best for Apple fans

Apple TV 4K

Price: $189.95
Video: 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Best for gamers

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 4K

Price: $199.99
Video: 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Amazon.com Price as of 11/19/21 1:55 p.m. PST. Read full disclaimer.

If you’re still using your smart TV to stream, hear our plea: Get a separate device! You’ll experience better streaming performance (especially if your smart TV is older), have more far more app choices (thousands, as opposed to dozens), and enjoy travel-friendly portability (even the largest streaming devices can fit in an overnight bag).

But, if you like hauling your 70” flatscreen around on business trips, you do you.

Compare streaming devices head-to-head

Device Price Video Audio Details
Roku Ultra $66.01 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
Chromecast with Google TV $49.99 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Atmos View on Google
Amazon Fire TV Cube $79.99 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
Apple TV 4K $189.95 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 4K $199.99 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon

Amazon.com Price as of 11/19/21 1:55 p.m. PST. Read full disclaimer.

We’ve reviewed five of the top streaming devices on the market right now and included a few budget options too. Spoiler: our favorite device is the Roku Ultra, but the rest of the set-top box pack is also worth checking out—especially Chromecast with Google TV, which is technically a “dongle” streamer but still impressively powerful.

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Best Overall: Roku Ultra

Price:
$66.01
Video:
1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Pros

  • Simple, intuitive interface
  • Expansive app selection

Cons

  • No iTunes
  • Shaky relations with Google and Amazon

Roku was among the first in the streaming device game, and it’s still easily one of the best today when it comes to performance and user-friendly interface—and purple-ness, for sure.

The Roku Ultra is a small, sleek set-top streaming device supporting 4K, Dolby Vision, andDolby Atmos audio. Plus, it features a MicroSD card slot for extra storage, an Ethernet connection option, a USB port for connecting other devices, a “lost remote” tone generator, and even a headphone jack on the remote for private listening (JBL earbuds included).

The intuitiveness of the Roku Ultra is fantastic, but it’s the content that really makes the case. Roku’s library has the largest selection of apps—or, as it calls them, channels—offered by any streaming device: there are over 3,000 to veg-out with. Many are even free, including the content-filled Roku Channel.

One downside to Roku: because of disputes with Google, YouTube and YouTube TV aren’t available in the Roku Channel Store right now, meaning new users can’t get them and current customers may eventually lose them. According to some reports, this might also happen with Amazon’s Prime Video app—ouch.

Best for Android users: Chromecast with Google TV

Price:
$49.99
Video:
1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Pros

  • Easy, intuitive interface
  • Google Assistant voice remote

Cons

  • Doesn’t support all apps
  • Requires AC power

Chromecast with Google TV is a powerful upgrade from the popular (and cheap) Chromecast. This sleek reinvention now comes with a remote and an actual screen interface—no smartphone required. It works so well we often step out on our beloved Roku with it (shhh).

Chromecast with Google TV is Android-based, meaning it’ll work with most apps in the Google Play store, and you can still cast content from your phone just the old Chromecast. It also features superior video and audio capabilities, including 4K, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.

Just as Amazon Fire TV devices work seamlessly with Prime Video, and Apple TV 4K loves Apple apps, Chromecast with Google TV takes to Google and Android apps (like YouTube TV and YouTube) exceptionally well. It also works nicely with Google Nest speakers and smart devices.

The included remote is a tad small and maybe prone to disappearing between couch cushions, but you’ll probably spend more time talking to it than its pushing buttons—it is a Google Assistant voice remote, after all. You can even get it (and the dongle) in white, pink, or blue.

If you’ve tried out the older Chromecast and weren’t impressed, you should definitely give Chromecast with Google TV a spin—it’s a little-bitty beast of a streaming device.

Best for Alexa integration: Amazon Fire TV Cube

Price:
$79.99
Video:
1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Full Alexa integration

Cons

  • Prime Video content favoritism
  • Larger size

If you and your trusty Alexa have been eagerly awaiting the Amazon-ization of everything in your life, great news: the feature-packed Amazon Fire TV Cube is here (and even resembles a Star Trek Borg ship).

Alexa comes built-in, meaning you can control video and audio hardware throughout your home with just your voice. Barring laryngitis, that means no more lost remote.

The Amazon Fire TV Cube has 4K, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, as do the other devices reviewed here. Plus, the Fire TV Cube has the advantage of being Ethernet cable ready for a direct, solid internet connection.

The Cube also doesn’t discriminate against non-Amazon apps. Prime Video is clearly favored (a bit too much, in our opinion), but Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and the rest aren’t left out.

But really, the Alexa connection is the big selling point of the Fire TV Cube—all of the household control in one remote, we like it. For total home-entertainment command, go Cube.

Best for Apple fans: Apple TV 4K

Price:
$189.95
Video:
1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Pros

  • Siri and Apple integration
  • Superior picture and performance

Cons

  • Limited app selection
  • Higher price (because Apple)

If you’re an all-in-for-Apple kind of consumer, you’re used to a higher ticket price for multimedia bliss—and of course you’re going to want an Apple TV 4K.

It’s more expensive than most of the other streaming devices mentioned here, but it’s worth the price. The Apple TV 4K syncs seamlessly with all of your other Apple gear, and its insanely fast A12 Bionic chip leaves standard quad-core processors in the dust.

There’ll be a bit of a trade-off, though. Siri and iTunes may be there for you, but the Apple TV 4K’s collection of apps isn’t as deep as Roku’s or Fire TV’s. You’ll just have to live without The Bigfoot Channel.

Not that devotees need further convincing, but the Apple TV 4K supports 4K, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+, and the picture quality is pristine. If you’re an Apple acolyte, this is the streaming TV box for you.

Best for gamers: NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 4K

Price:
$199.99
Video:
1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Pros

  • Full gaming capability
  • Android TV platform

Cons

  • High price
  • No iTunes

For non-gamers, NVIDIA Shield is not, repeat, not a Wakanda insurance firm.

It’s a powerful gaming-centric device that can also stream 4K and HDR TV—and quite well, at that. The device includes a controller, as well as MicroSD and Micro USB ports, and 16 GB of storage. With a system based on the Android TV platform, the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 4K’s streaming performance stacks up competitively against any other device here–exceptin price.

The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro costs even more than the Apple TV 4K device, which might put off casual gamers users who just want to watch Better Call Saul or listen to Spotify.

Fortunately, NVIDIA Shield TV Pro 4K’s streaming app selection is still excellent. If it’s in the Google Play store, you can likely get it—but it’s the gaming side that really shines. If you’re a devout game who also squeezes in time for TV, the Shield does it all.

But if you don’t know Fortnite from Frontline, this might not be the streaming device you’re looking for.

Sticks, dongles, and mini-devices

Device Price Video Audio Details
Roku Streaming Stick+ $29.99 1080p, 4K Digital stereo View on Amazon
Roku Streaming Stick 4K $29.00 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo View on Amazon
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ $69.99 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
Roku Express $24.99 1080p Digital stereo View on Amazon
Roku Express 4K+ $29.00 1080p, 4K Digital stereo View on Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick $19.99 1080p Digital stereo, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite $17.99 1080p Digital stereo View on Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K $24.99 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K $34.99 1080p, 4K, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon
Google Chromecast 3rd Gen. $19.99 1080p Digital stereo View on Google
TiVo Stream 4K $24.30 1080p, 4K, HDR, HDR10+, Dolby Vision Digital stereo, Dolby Atmos View on Amazon

Amazon.com Price as of 11/19/21 2:52 p.m. PST. Read full disclaimer.

At half the cost, the Roku Streaming Stick and Expresses do almost everything the Roku Ultra does—and take up less space. Just plug either device into an HDMI port on your TV, power it up, and stream.

The Amazon Fire TV Sticks are also smaller and less-expensive versions of the set-top models. Like the Cube, the Fire TV Stick is slightly biased toward recommending Amazon content, but it’s still a tiny marvel for streaming.

The TiVo Stream 4K’s square dongle is Android-based and works particularly well with Sling TV (and it paid to be front-and-center in the interface). It also comes with TiVo’s beloved Mr. Peanut-shaped remote, which features Google Assistant voice activation.

What to look for in a streaming device

  • Dual-band Wi-Fi: Your picture will be only as good as your device’s Wi-Fi receiver, so look for 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi in the specs. We’ll help: all the streaming devices we’ve listed feature dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, and some have Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth capabilities.
  • Ethernet port: If you plan on streaming a lot of bandwidth-hogging 4K content, consider going ethernet. Fortunately, most set-top box models (and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K) feature an ethernet port for a direct internet connection.
  • USB ports: If you have home videos, photos, music, or any other outside media you’d like to display on your TV, a USB port can come in handy. Load up those vacation videos on a USB thumb drive and bore the kids all over again.

Final take: Roku Ultra is the streaming device to beat

We love the Roku Ultra for its easy interface, smooth performance, and sheer abundance of streaming apps, so we recommend it for most people—but the sleek Chromecast with Google TV comes this close to also winning our hearts. Imagine an ’80s sitcom where we’re dashing back-and-forth between double-booked dinner dates. That’s us with these two.

If you’re an Amazon power-user in a deep (but healthy) relationship with Alexa, the Fire TV Cube is obviously your jam; the same goes for Apple purists and the Apple TV 4K.

Our methodology

Our experts employed hundreds of hours of hands-on testing and comparing stats, rating these streaming devices on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

Streaming TV device FAQ

Do I need an internet connection to stream TV?

You need an internet connection to stream TV—and the faster the download speed, the better. DSL internet users will see lag time and pixelation if they’re streaming TV and surfing the web simultaneously (by “if,” we mean “when”—who watches just one screen anymore?). Fiber or cable internet is your best bet for smooth streaming.

Are there monthly streaming fees?

There are no monthly fees for streaming devices. To watch certain apps and services like Hulu or Disney+ on those devices, though, you’ll have to pay up. Fortunately, there are also thousands of apps that provide free content like Pluto TV and Tubi.

Should I get a streaming box or a streaming stick?

For the ultimate streaming TV experience, we recommend a set-top box. They have the power and functionality to replicate the cable or satellite interface most viewers are familiar with (and are probably ditching in favor of streaming).

If you’re short on entertainment-center space, or travel a lot, today’s streaming sticks and dongles are nearly equal to full-sized boxes in features and performance.

Do I need 4K and HDR resolution streaming?

You probably thought you didn’t “need” 1080p HD TV until you saw it for the first time—it’s the same deal with 4K and HDR.

4K isn’t the highest screen resolution you can get anymore (that would be 8K), but it’s pretty much the industry standard. Some prefer HDR (high dynamic range), which comes in HDR10+ (open) and Dolby Vision (proprietary) formats to 4K.

Most newer smart TVs and streaming devices accommodate all resolutions.

What’s the cheapest streaming TV device?

If your entertainment needs don’t extend beyond Netflix and YouTube, the $19.99 Google Chromecast 3rd Gen. is the clear low-cost option.

If you want more features and better performance, Roku’s Streaming Sticks and Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks do a lot for only a few bucks more.

Disclaimer

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

CERTAIN CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON THIS SITE COMES FROM AMAZON. THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED ‘AS IS’ AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR REMOVAL AT ANY TIME.

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