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The best media streaming devices you can buy in 2021

Roku, Fire, Android TV, Apple TV... there's a lot of options out there. Which one is best for you?
June 4, 2021
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 of the major players in the streaming game. While we can’t necessarily 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

Buying the right media streaming device for your needs

Different streaming devices are right for different users, so we’ve tried to highlight what makes each one special. If you’re attached to the Apple ecosystem, you may find yourself drawn to the Apple TV platform. Likewise, Google Pixel and Google Nest users will likely gravitate towards the Chromecast with Google TV for its convenient integration.

Most modern streaming devices offer support for a similar list of apps, so you may not have to worry too much about availability. You will, however, want to consider the remote that comes with your device. Each manufacturer offers its own button layout, some of which include dedicated buttons for top streaming services.

Best 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, 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 wheel.

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 remains its dedicated remote. It’s the first Google device to offer one, and it packs all of the buttons you really need to get around. You can jump to YouTube and Netflix right away or control your power, input, and volume in seconds. Unfortunately, some of the peripheral controls don’t work on every TV, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

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. While this is our top media streaming device, it’s not perfect. There’s still no Stadia support, and you can only sign into one user profile for each Chromecast.

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!


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


  • Lack of Google Stadia support
  • 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.

Looking for other recommendations? While the Google Chromecast with Google TV is our top recommendation, keep reading below for other 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 around, complete with a full NumPad. It combines 4K quality with the easy-to-use Android TV platform at a great price point.
  • 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 a true 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 both 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.
  • Roku Premiere: Roku’s Premiere keeps all of the Express’s best features and adds 4K to the mix. It costs just a little more, but the difference in quality is worth it.
  • 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 Plus: 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
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The TiVo Stream 4K is set up in many ways to be a Chromecast killer. It offers an equally competitive $49.99 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 completely 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 own 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
$49.99 at Amazon


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


  • 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 will set you back $99.99. However, the device really shows its worth with 4K support and Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.

The Roku Ultra is slightly larger than other streaming device family members, which can make it tougher to travel with. You get a pair of JBL earbuds included 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, so it should work for everyone. Our biggest complaint with the Roku Ultra (and Rokus in general) is that you’ll run into plenty of ads on the homepage as well as your screen saver.


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


  • 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 profile shot
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

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 the most expensive option so far at $119.99, 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.

The Fire TV Cube may take some getting used to as a media streaming device, however. 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


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


  • Speaker isn’t good enough for music streaming
  • 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 and Apple TV 4K: Apple to its core

Apple TV 4K with remote to the left
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Apple TV 4K has been around since 2017, making it one of our list’s oldest options. There’s been no sign of a true update since then either, yet Apple TV still deserves a place among the top media streaming devices. Truly, it all comes down to the class-leading ecosystem integration. It may cost you $179 or more, but no other device pairs as well with your phone, wireless earbuds, and more like the Apple TV 4K.

Siri is also one of the most impressive parts of the Apple TV 4K. 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. However, the hardware is going on four years old, and the remote features a trackpad that can be exceptionally fussy at times. Also, the Apple Tax is alive and unwell.


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


  • Very expensive
  • Aging hardware
  • Finicky remote

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

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

2019 Nvidia Shield TV remote and app

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 to this day, and the Shield TV has become less expensive yet more powerful with each iteration. Nvidia’s Shield TV still isn’t the most affordable at $149, but it packs all of the Dolby and AI upscaling goodness you expect at that 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
$149.00 at Amazon


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


  • On the expensive side
  • No new hardware in the last two years

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

Roku Express: The most affordable Roku

Roku Express on bookshelf
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, 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 on our list, 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, too.

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. It has plenty of quick launch buttons, though the Roku Express only supports 1080p streaming. Roku OS is also packed with ads, but that’s somewhat forgivable for the money.

Roku Express
$29.99 at Amazon


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


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

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

Roku Premiere: Great for 4K streaming on a budget

Roku Premiere device 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The Roku Premiere might be a better bet if you like the sound of an affordable device, but you want 4K streaming sprinkled in. It’s only slightly more expensive than the Express at $39.99, but that’s a reasonable ask for HDR support. Unfortunately, the bump in cost isn’t enough to get you a voice control remote; the Premiere still offers a basic unit instead.

One of the better features that the Premiere took from the Express is its portability. You can easily pop it into a pocket for a night away or a short business trip where you want to keep up with your shows. However, the Premiere is no speed demon — it suffers from limited memory and storage, so you may notice some lag if you open an app for the first time in a while.

Roku Premiere
$39.99 at Amazon


  • 4K and HDR support
  • Portable size
  • Reasonable price


  • No voice commands
  • Limited onboard memory
  • Ads on the homepage

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

Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite: The affordable Amazon options

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite angled profile
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 Lite
$29.99 at Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen)
$39.99 at Amazon


  • Reasonable prices
  • HDR support
  • HDMI extenders


  • 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 Plus: Roku’s all-rounder

Roku Streaming Stick Plus 2

The last media streaming device on our list is Roku’s Streaming Stick Plus. It finally brings back the fully powered voice remote, complete with quick launch buttons. It can control both 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 of the other Roku devices to navigate, and you can pop it right into your pocket.

Unfortunately, the Streaming Stick Plus hits a few familiar Roku pitfalls. There are 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.


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


  • 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 Plus.