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The best media streaming devices you can buy in 2022

Roku, Fire, Android TV, Apple TV... there's a lot of options out there.
By
April 26, 2022
Google Chromecast with Google TV apps tab
David Imel / Android Authority

Everywhere you look, people are ditching the traditional cable box in favor of online streaming services. There are more platforms than you can shake a stick at, but you need an easy way to access them all. Whether you prefer Netflix or Hulu on your TV, here are the best media streaming devices for you to spend your money on.

We’ve done our best to include options from all major players in the streaming game. While we can’t fit every detail into this article, we have reviews for almost every device we’ll discuss. Feel free to check them all out and learn more.

See also: The best video streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, and many more

The best media streaming devices overall: Google Chromecast with Google TV

Google Chromecast with Google TV on table style photo
David Imel / Android Authority
aa2020 the best

Google’s Chromecast remains one of its most influential products ever released, and its latest Chromecast with Google TV is more than deserving of our top spot. At just $49.99 MSRP, it remains one of the most affordable ways to bring all of your streaming services together in one place. While Google hasn’t reinvented the wheel with this media streaming device, it’s certainly gone from a bicycle wheel to a fine-tuned Ferrari one.

The Chromecast with Google TV combines a dedicated remote with an unbeatable price.

One of Google’s best additions to the Chromecast with Google TV is its dedicated remote. It’s the first Google device to offer one, and it packs all of the buttons you need to get around. You can jump to YouTube and Netflix right away or control your power, input, and volume in seconds. You can also pick up the Chromecast with Google TV in three Google-esque colors: Snow, Sunrise, and Sky. They don’t serve much purpose, but it’s nice to have options.

Via a software update, the device recently added support for playing games on the cloud via Google Stadia. While this is our top media streaming device, it’s not perfect. At the moment, you can only sign into one user profile for each Chromecast (although multiple profile support is reportedly on the way). Also, some of the peripheral controls don’t work on every TV.

Google Chromecast with Google TV on table straight down
Chromecast with Google TV
The latest Chromecast has Android TV built-in...and a remote!
The Chromecast with Google TV is not just a Chromecast. It's a full-on Android TV streamer with a Google Assistant-powered voice remote!

Pros

  • Google’s first dedicated remote
  • It supports nearly every streaming service
  • Excellent interface

Cons

  • Volume and input controls don’t work for all TVs
  • Only one user profile per device

Check out our full review to learn more about the Google Chromecast with Google TV.

Are you looking for other recommendations? While the Google Chromecast with Google TV is our top recommendation, keep reading below for additional choices worth considering.

Other products worth considering

The best media streaming devices

  • TiVo Stream 4K: The TiVo Stream offers one of the most complete remotes, complete with a full NumPad. It combines 4K quality with the easy-to-use Android TV platform at a great price.
  • Roku Ultra: Roku’s most powerful device packs Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. It also includes a pair of JBL earbuds so you can keep your stream to yourself.
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube: The Fire TV Cube is a great way to keep Alexa in control of your TV. It’s a slightly larger device, but it packs all of the strength of an Echo speaker — though it’s not the loudest for music.
  • Apple TV and Apple TV 4K: If you call the Apple ecosystem home, it may be the only way to go. It offers everything you love about Apple’s simplicity and is the easiest way to get Siri on your TV.
  • Nvidia Shield TV and Shield TV Pro: Nvidia has long been a go-to for gamers, and the Shield TV helps reinforce what makes it so good. It offers a unique triangular remote with plenty of buttons and upscaling to give gaming and streaming an impressive boost.
  • Roku Express: The Express is the most affordable way to tap into the Roku ecosystem. You get the same access to an extensive library of apps as other Roku devices, though you won’t be able to deliver voice commands into the remote.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: This is the best Fire TV streaming device for those who want 4K without getting a larger Cube.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite: The Fire TV Sticks are the most affordable way to add Alexa to your TV. You get the same list of apps, but the remotes are different between the two media streaming devices.
  • Roku Streaming Stick 4K: This might be the best device Roku makes for its power and price mix. It won’t break the bank, but you get voice commands and 4K support at your fingertips.

TiVo Stream 4K: Great for live TV and media streaming

TiVo Stream 4K 1 media streaming devices
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The TiVo Stream 4K is set up in many ways to be a Chromecast killer. It offers a competitive price point, an extensive set of apps, and a fully functioning remote. It packs one of the more capable media streaming device remotes, especially if you’re not entirely sold on cutting the cord.

You’ll also get 4K-quality streaming to enjoy most of your content in the best resolution possible. It’s nice to see TiVo turn to Android TV for the bulk of the features, though we don’t love the addition of TiVo’s UI on top of things. In a way, it feels like you have two different platforms competing in the same box. Once you choose one, however, this can be a top choice among streaming devices.

TiVo Stream 4K
$39.99 at Amazon

Pros

  • Straightforward setup experience
  • Large, functional remote
  • Sling TV integration

Cons

  • TiVo’s UI competing with Android TV
  • Less appealing overall design

Check out our full review to learn more about the Tivo Stream 4K.


Roku Ultra: The most powerful Roku around

Roku Ultra plugged into TV 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The Ultra is Roku’s most powerful and most expensive media streaming device. It offers the same comfortable interface and app selection as the other Roku devices, but the Ultra is slightly pricey. However, the device shows its worth with 4K support and Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.

The Roku Ultra is slightly larger than other streaming device family members, making it tougher to travel with. You get a pair of JBL earbuds in the box, which is nice if you want to stream without disturbing others. If you want to deliver voice commands, you can choose from either Google’s Assistant or Alexa, which should work for everyone. Our biggest complaint with the Roku Ultra (and Roku’s in general) is that you’ll run into plenty of ads on the homepage as well as your screen saver.

Roku Ultra

Pros

  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
  • Included JBL earbuds
  • Easy to navigate Roku OS

Cons

  • Ads on the home screen and screen saver
  • Slightly less portable design
  • No MicroSD storage port

Check out our full review to learn more about the Roku Ultra.


Amazon Fire TV Cube: Doubles as an Echo speaker

Amazon Fire TV Cube

If you consider Amazon’s Alexa your go-to assistant, the Fire TV Cube might be the streaming device for you. It can not only power your TV, but it also serves as a full-fledged Echo speaker. Amazon’s Cube is among the most expensive options on this list, but it doesn’t skip out on features. You’ll find Dolby Vision and HDR 10 support, so all of your favorite shows should look great.

However, the Fire TV Cube may take some getting used to as a media streaming device. Amazon’s remote controls most actions, but you’ll deliver voice commands straight to the box itself. You’ll also find that the speaker isn’t outstanding if you hope to stream music; at least, that’s what we found. If you already have a Fire TV Stick, you’re better off adding an Echo speaker instead of the Fire TV Cube.

Amazon Fire TV Cube (3rd Generation)
$119.99 at Amazon

Pros

  • Solid memory and storage combination
  • Simple and lively menu setup
  • Serves as a full Alexa device

Cons

  • Speaker isn’t good enough for music streaming
  • The learning curve for voice commands
  • Software isn’t for everyone

Check out our full review to learn more about the Amazon Fire TV Cube.


Apple TV 4K: Apple to its core

Apple TV 4K standing up
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Apple TV 4K set-top device got a significant hardware upgrade in 2021. While the box looks the same on the outside, the same cannot be said of the new Apple TV remote, which got a total revamp. The remote ditched the minimalistic look of the previous model and put in an actual trackpad that is much easier to use. The 2021 Apple TV 4K includes the much faster A12 Bionic chip and support for Dolby Vision HDR.

Siri is also one of the most impressive parts of the Apple TV box. It seems to work better in the simplified world of TV than almost anywhere else. This is the way to go if you want incredible access to both apps and games, thanks to Apple Arcade and the App Store.

Apple TV 4K (2021)

Pros

  • Best-in-class ecosystem integration
  • Audio and video are top-notch
  • Best access to apps and games
  • Improved remote

Cons

  • Very expensive

Check out our full review to learn more about the Apple TV 4K.


Nvidia Shield TV and Nvidia Shield TV Pro: The best for gamers

NVIDA Shield TV 2019 modle and controller upright - The best media streaming devices

Gamers, rejoice, for Nvidia has delivered a top-tier streaming device once again. The Nvidia Shield TV is slightly older, having launched in 2019, but it’s no slouch. It continues to receive updates today, and the Shield TV has become less expensive yet more powerful with each iteration. Nvidia’s Shield TV still isn’t affordable, but it packs all of the Dolby and AI upscaling goodness you expect at its higher price point.

The triangular remote is a unique touch, especially when paired with the cylindrical streaming device itself. You’ll find the usual array of buttons as seen above, along with a dedicated Netflix button. If you’re hoping for a few more advanced gaming options, you’ll have to splash out an extra $50 for the Nvidia Shield TV Pro.

Nvidia Shield TV
Nvidia Shield TV Pro (2019)

Pros

  • Still receiving regular updates
  • Unique triangular remote
  • Powerful AI upscaling

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • No new hardware for years

Check out our full review to learn more about the Nvidia Shield TV.


Roku Express: The most affordable Roku

Roku Express on bookshelf - The best media streaming devices
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you want to get into the media streaming device game without spending too much money, the Roku Express is for you. It will only set you back $29.99 (MSRP), yet you get the same access to Roku apps as you would with the expensive Ultra. The Express is one of the more pocket-friendly options, making it a perfect travel companion. When you happen across an app that Roku doesn’t support, you can always mirror it right from your phone to the TV.

One major downside is that the Roku Express doesn’t offer any support for voice commands. You get a slightly simplified remote that doesn’t do much to operate your TV itself. Though the Roku Express only supports 1080p streaming, it has plenty of quick launch buttons. Roku OS is also packed with ads, but that’s somewhat forgivable for the money.

Roku Express

Pros

  • Rock-bottom price
  • Pocket-friendly design
  • Handy app mirroring

Cons

  • Lack of voice commands
  • 1080p streaming limit
  • Laden with ads

Check out our full review to learn more about the Roku Express.


Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Great for 4K streaming on a budget

Fire TV Stick 4K Max stick close up - The best media streaming devices
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Amazon Fire TV Cube is expensive and bulky. Meanwhile, the Fire TV Sticks below are affordable, but don’t have 4K support. If you want something in the middle, you should look at the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

It’s more potent than the non-Max version, and only slightly more expensive. You’ll also enjoy Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10 Plus, and Dolby Atmos sound. Not to mention the voice remote gives you direct access to Alexa.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
$54.99 at Amazon

Pros

  • 4K, HDR, HDR10 Plus, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos support
  • Wi-Fi 6 support
  • Great performance

Cons

  • Can’t remap the remote hotkeys
  • Ads on the homepage
  • Dated micro-USB power port

Check out our full review to learn more about the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.


Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite: The affordable Amazon media streaming devices options

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite angled profile - The best media streaming devices
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube was the expensive, high-end way to bring Alexa to your TV, but these Sticks make things easy. They’re much easier to tuck behind your TV, and they pack the same extensive app support. You’ll have to go back to delivering voice commands into your remote, but that’s not too steep an ask at $29.99 for the Streaming Stick Lite. The Streaming Sticks also include HDMI extenders in the box, which is key if your current TV setup is a little tight.

You’ll get HDR support on both models, and it’s straightforward to get around the Fire TV interface. One of the key differences between the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick Lite is that the Lite remote offers no control over your TV. You’ll have to switch between remotes to tackle things like the volume. Luckily for you, the full-fledged Fire TV Stick is only $10 more at $39.99.

Amazon Fire TV Stick
$39.99 at Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite
$29.99 at Amazon

Pros

  • Reasonable prices
  • HDR support
  • HDMI extenders

Cons

  • Fire TV Stick Lite has a limited remote
  • Must deliver voice commands into the remote

Check out our full review to learn more about the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite.


Roku Streaming Stick 4K: Roku’s all-rounder

roku streaming stick 4k on remote - The best media streaming devices
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The last media streaming device on our list is Roku’s Streaming Stick 4K. It includes a fully powered voice remote, complete with quick launch buttons. It can control your TV and the Roku itself, so you don’t have to lug around two remotes. The Streaming Stick Plus comes in at $49.99, giving it a great blend of power and price. It’s as easy as all other Roku devices to navigate, and you can pop it right into your pocket.

Unfortunately, the Streaming Stick 4K hits a few familiar Roku pitfalls. There is limited memory and storage, which can cause some lag. You’ll also run into ads just about everywhere you look. The Roku remote also requires either Google Assistant or Alexa to do its job, which is an interesting decision.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K 2021
$39.00 at Amazon
Save $10.99

Pros

  • Voice controlled remote
  • Perfect mix of price and power
  • Easily portable size

Cons

  • Limited memory and storage
  • Ads, ads everywhere
  • Requires Google Assistant or Alexa for voice commands

Check out our full review to learn more about the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.


Buying the right media streaming device for your needs

Different streaming devices are suitable for different users, so we’ve tried to highlight what makes each one special.

Find one that’s best for your preferred user interface

You may find yourself drawn to the Apple TV platform if you’re attached to the Apple ecosystem. Likewise, Google Pixel and Google Nest users will likely gravitate towards the Chromecast with Google TV for its convenient integration.

Check to see if the apps you want are on the device

Most modern streaming devices offer support for a similar list of apps, so you may not have to worry too much about availability. However, a few major apps, such as Twitch and Spectrum TV, are unavailable on all streaming ecosystems.

Make sure you like your remote

Each manufacturer offers its own button layout, including dedicated buttons for top streaming services. Plus, some have voice command support, and others do not. You may also want to get one that has a remote finder.

4K streaming requires a 4K TV

If you get one of the media streaming devices that supports 4K, make sure your television also supports 4K resolution. You are better off getting a cheaper device that supports 1080p streaming if your TV doesn’t even have 4K.

If you are a gamer, be prepared to spend more

If you want your media device to double as a gaming box, you will have to spend more money on an Nvidia Shield or Apple TV box for downloadable titles. The Chromecast with Google TV and some Amazon Fire TV sticks also support cloud gaming.