The 7 Best Streaming Devices of 2023

Cut cords with the cable companies and stream your content to your TV

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Besides cutting down on unnecessary cables and other clutter, a streaming device allows you to watch just about anywhere as long as you have an HDMI-compatible display and a stable internet connection.

The form factor is the most apparent difference between these devices but is far from your only concern. You'll want to stay apprised of the streaming services or applications offered on a particular platform, and what formats (like 4K or HDR) are supported.

Best Overall

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K


What We Like
  • Fast performance

  • Great streaming quality

  • 4K and HDR

What We Don't Like
  • No YouTube app available

  • User interface can feel cluttered

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K wants to upgrade your tried-and-true entertainment experience. Select from over 500,000 movies and TV shows from providers like Hulu, Netflix, STARZ, SHOWTIME, HBO, and Prime Video, and catch live TV if you have subscriptions like Playstation Vue, Sling TV, and Hulu. Users can access millions of websites like Facebook and YouTube, music streaming services, podcasts, and live radio stations like Amazon Music and Spotify. For the ultimate visual and audio experience, the stick is compatible with 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.

The Fire TV Stick’s latest iteration also features Amazon Alexa, which is capable of everything from helping you select what show you should watch to controlling the lights, checking live camera feeds, and monitoring the weather. The stick features a powerful 1.7 GHz processor, and our testing revealed rapid loading times. The physical volume controls and power buttons mean you no longer have to deal with multiple remotes to control one device.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Best Budget

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick+

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Great value

  • Tons of different apps

  • Remote also has TV controls

What We Don't Like
  • Cheap build

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is our favorite low-cost streaming device. Whatever kind of subscription services you use, this little device will likely have an app. Like many other devices on this list, the Roku plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV and connects to your home's Wi-Fi signal using a long-range wireless receiver.

The Roku is a great way to consolidate all your different platforms into one place, allowing you to switch from live TV on Sling to your favorite shows on Netflix and Disney+. It even has content from Apple TV. This eliminates the need to create a patchwork of different streaming devices you have to switch between on your TV. The Streaming Stick+ has also built TV controls into its remote, which means you can turn on and adjust your TV's settings without switching back and forth.

Best Smart Home Compatibility

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Hands-free usage

  • Smart-home integration

  • Sharp picture quality

What We Don't Like
  • No HDMI cord included

  • Voice commands not always intuitive

Amazon's Fire TV Cube hopes to replace the TV remote entirely. A combination of the Echo speaker and Fire TV stick, it will be your smart home and entertainment hub that follows your every voice command. And as with most of Amazon's other branded devices, you can use the Alexa assistant to control your TV, cable box, soundbar, or other audio equipment. If you want to turn on the TV, say, "Alexa, turn on the TV." Ask it to play your favorite shows or music, too. Our testing found that even the volume can be controlled through voice commands.

Amazon's Fire entertainment hub gives you instant access to all your favorite streaming services like Prime Video, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, and more. All totaled, there are more than 500,00 movies and TV episodes. That includes a large number of 4K Ultra HD-ready content that streams at a super-smooth 60fps. The Fire TV Cube provides direct access to YouTube, Facebook, and more with two built-in web browsers.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

 Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Best for 4K Content

Nvidia Shield TV

Nvidia Shield TV

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Generous memory

  • Smart-home compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Console scratches easily

  • No incremental volume controls

  • No power button on remote or controller

If you have a 4K TV and a great sound system in your entertainment center, you will want a streaming device that delivers the highest-quality image and sound. In that case, the NVIDIA Shield Android TV streaming device is hard to beat. Its design is a bit different from the others on this list. Instead of placing it under your TV or plugging it directly into the HDMI port, the Shield connects to your TV via an HDMI cable (sold separately) and sits down behind your entertainment center out of sight.

The NVIDIA Shield prioritizes speed and power with the company’s own Tegra X1+ processor, making it one of the fastest and most advanced devices on this list — this makes it the best option for gamers. Even if you plan to stream shows and movies, the Shield packs features like Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio to make your media look and sound its best. It also has video upscaling features to optimize non-4K content for your 4K screen. With apps for all the major streaming services, the NVIDIA Shield Android TV gives you access to the most 4K content at its best quality.


Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 

Best Features

Roku Ultra

Roku Ultra
Courtesy of
What We Like
  • Solid 4K HDR performance

  • Easy to setup and use

  • Voice remote with headphone jack

What We Don't Like
  • No Dolby Vision support

  • Doesn’t include HDMI cable

  • Very limited voice assistant

Roku's flagship, the Ultra, is a fantastic choice for streaming fans looking for the best-featured option. At 4.9 x 4.9 x .8 inches, the square-ish Ultra can support both 4K and HDR picture quality with a powerful quad-core processor. The 4K Ultra HD streaming is handled at 60fps, or four times the resolution of 1080p HD, and, thanks to its upgraded design, runs without fans. There's an HDMI port, an Ethernet port (plus 802.11 a/c), digital output, a microSD slot for additional storage, and a USB port. Unfortunately, there's no HDMI cable included, which is a strange omission.

A powerful processor makes navigating Roku's already friendly menu system a cinch. Channel selection is front and center and shows apps that have been downloaded. Like many other Roku devices, the Ultra offers voice search, which works well overall. Speak the show's name, actor, director, or app into the remote control or mobile app (Android and iOS), and your results will pop up. The remote is standard Roku fashion with the colorful Purple direction pad and a slew of shortcuts to big-name apps and other controlling functions.

There is a 4K spotlight app that highlights UHD content across a variety of services. Night mode is a welcome addition that tones down big explosions and highlights dialogue so you can let the rest of the house sleep while you watch late at night. The combination of the speedy processor, 4K, and HDR streaming, plus one of the most expansive channel selections, means the Ultra won't disappoint.

Best Apple Device

Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Siri voice remote

  • 4K HDR support

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The latest version of the popular Apple TV streaming devices comes with 4K support and built-in Siri functionality. Gone are the days of the frustrating click-wheel remote — you can use voice commands to find your favorite content effortlessly. The Apple App Store gives you access to apps for all your streaming services, including YouTube (finally).

As with all Apple products, you’ll get the most out of the Apple TV if you’re already in the brand’s ecosystem. Apple TV effortlessly syncs to your Apple Music, iTunes, and Photos accounts and lets you seamlessly mirror content from your Macbook or iPhone to your TV. Support for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos sound will make your media look and sound fantastic — a definite bonus if you’re already invested in some quality gear for your entertainment center.

Best Value

Google Chromecast with Google TV

Chromecast with Google TV

The Keyword

What We Like
  • Intuitive interface

  • Easy to set up

  • IR voice remote

  • Google Assistant

  • 4K and Dolby Vision

  • Dolby Atmos

What We Don't Like
  • No Ethernet port

  • Interface looks a lot like Amazon’s

  • Wouldn’t power with only USB

  • Missing Apple TV Plus and Spectrum apps

Unlike past generations of Google’s Chromecast, the Chromecast with Google TV includes a remote control that makes the device much easier to use. The remote can control your TV, receiver, and soundbar in addition to your Chromecast, and it features Google Assistant for voice searches, asking questions, and controlling compatible smart home devices. If you have the Chromecast with Google TV, you don’t need a smart speaker in your TV room, as you can turn off your smart lights using Google Assistant on your remote.

With 4K resolution and HDR formats like Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+, you’ll get stunning picture quality on your 4K TV or projector and support for Dolby Atmos sound. The Google TV interface—a version of Android TV—combines all your streaming services into one main menu. You’ll find content from services you subscribe to all in one place without having to click into the individual apps, whether you subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, YouTube TV, or several others. 

The Chromecast with Google TV comes in three color options: snow, sky, and sunrise. It has a small profile and is easy to install and set up. Plus, with a price tag of around $50, it’s an excellent value too.

Chromecast with Google TV

Erika Rawes / Lifewire

What to Look for in a Device for Streaming TV

4K Resolution

If you have a 4K television, and a fast internet connection, then a television streaming device that supports 4K is the perfect way to watch ultra-high-definition content. If you don’t have a 4K television yet, getting a streaming device with a 4K resolution will future-proof your setup.

Ethernet Connectivity

Streaming devices typically connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, but plugging in a physical Ethernet cable is much more dependable. If you want to avoid annoyances like buffering, make sure you can use Ethernet when you need it. Some TV streaming devices have an optional Ethernet adapter for just this reason.

App Availability

Most TV-streaming devices support most video-streaming services but don’t take it for granted that this will always be the case. If you already subscribe to any streaming services, make sure the streaming device you choose has apps for them.

  • If you already own a Smart TV, do you need another streaming device?

    Depending on who makes your TV and which services you subscribe to, you may not even need a Roku, Fire Stick, or Chromecast. Most Smart TVs have access to a wide variety of streaming applications, although some models do feature some curious omissions. LG TVs for example, currently lack support for Discovery Plus as well as a number of other fringe services.

  • What kind of internet connection do you need for your streaming device to be effective?

    With the vast majority of content being streamed being at least 1080p, a minimum of a 5 Mbps internet connection is a necessity. Of course, having better bandwidth will allow you to stream 4K content without interruptions.

  • Will a streaming device work in your country?

    Yes. While there are some services and shows that may either be region locked or region-specific, you can still get around these restrictions by using a VPN.

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