The 8 Best Devices for Streaming Movies to Your TV

Joel Lee 11-12-2015

There’s a reason why we’re so enthusiastic about streaming media to your TV Cut the Cord Forever With These 15 TV Streaming Channels Cable TV is in decline, as the internet provides cheap, on-demand entertainment. Here are 15 of the best TV streaming services to help you cut the cord. Read More : all things considered, it’s simply better. Compared to traditional TV options, streaming is cheaper Considering Canceling Cable? The True Cost of Cutting the Cord When you add everything up, do you really save money by cutting the cord? We do the math involved with cancelling cable in favor of Internet services. Read More , more convenient, and more suited to individual tastes.


However, there is one problem: there are several ways to stream media to your TV, and deciding which way is right for you can be overwhelming. Let us help you explore what’s currently available and at least narrow down your potential choices.

Roku Streaming Player

For the past few years, the Roku streaming player has been considered by many to be the best streaming device on the market Chromecast vs. Apple TV vs. Roku: Which Media Streamer Suits You? Media streaming devices are simply awesome. Those little boxes that connect to your TV can add a wealth of entertainment options to your living room. But which device is best for you? Read More . It’s available for a modest price tag, it’s compatible with all kinds of streaming services, it has a lot of advanced features, and above all, it looks great.


Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) with Voice Search (2015 Model) Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) with Voice Search (2015 Model) Buy Now On Amazon $148.98

The Roku 3 is a solid purchase. It’s basically a set-top box, not unlike a cable TV set-top box, that connects to your TV’s HDMI port. It can connect to 2,500+ different streaming channels — both free and paid — and comes with a remote control (which has a headphone jack for private audio) and video resolution up to 1080p.



Roku 4 | HD and 4K UHD Streaming Media Player with Enhanced Remote (Voice Search, Lost Remote Finder, and Headphone), Quad-Core Processor, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB Port Roku 4 | HD and 4K UHD Streaming Media Player with Enhanced Remote (Voice Search, Lost Remote Finder, and Headphone), Quad-Core Processor, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB Port Buy Now On Amazon $174.30

There is also the newer Roku 4, which connects via HDMI but can also provide 4K video quality if connected through HDCP 2.2. It can also upscale 720p and 1080p to 4K What Is Upscaling? How Does It Work? Is It Worth It? What is upscaling? How does it work? Is it all it's cracked up to be? Here's everything you need to know. Read More , making the Roku 4 a nice option if you plan on upgrading to a 4K television set in the near future Why Buying A 4K TV Right Now Is A Waste Of Money With an obvious price difference between the new generation of 4K TVs, and older Full HD models - do you really need 4K? We think not, and here's why. Read More .

Both can also cast media from smartphones and tablets to your TV. With compatible Android and Windows Phone devices, it can even mirror the entire screen to the TV.


Features at a glance:

  • Set-top box with an included remote control.
  • Voice search makes it faster to find content.
  • Cast media from mobile devices to your TV.
  • Mirror screens from mobile devices to your TV.
  • Compatible with 2,500+ streaming channels, like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, HBO Go, Sling TV, YouTube, Pandora, and more.
  • Cost: $89 for Roku 3, $129 for Roku 4.

Roku Streaming Stick

Roku also provides a lighter option for those who aren’t interested in cluttering up their media center with yet another set-top box, or for those who want to spend less: the Roku Streaming Stick.


Roku Streaming Stick (3500R) (2014 Model) Roku Streaming Stick (3500R) (2014 Model) Buy Now On Amazon $94.99


What’s nice about the Roku Streaming Stick is that it looks like a USB flash drive, except it plugs into an HDMI port. This keeps it neatly tucked away out of sight, but still controllable with the included remote control or with the Roku app for mobile devices.

In terms of content availability, anything you get with the Roku 3 is also available with the Stick, and it can handle video resolutions up to 1080p.

Features at a glance:

  • Compact design takes less space and stays out of sight.
  • Remote control for convenient browsing of content.
  • Cast media from mobile devices to your TV.
  • Compatible with 2,500+ streaming channels, like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, HBO Go, Sling TV, YouTube, Pandora, and more.
  • Cost: $39.


The success of the Chromecast can’t be overstated. At only $35, it’s one of the cheapest ways to cast media from any mobile device or Chrome browser to your TV. And the best part? Google released version 2.0 of the Chromecast without any increase in price. Yup, you can still get it for just $35.


Chromecast 2.0 is a mini-set-top device that requires a power outlet to operate while Chromecast 1.0 is a stick device — reminiscent of a USB flash drive — and just plugs into your TV, no power outlet needed. Both versions require an HDMI port.

Features at a glance:

  • Compact design that doesn’t take up much space.
  • Cast media from mobile devices to your TV.
  • Only compatible with apps that support Google Cast, which includes Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Sling TV, Spotify, Pandora, Twitch, and more.
  • Cost: $35.

Amazon Fire TV

The Amazon Fire TV is an interesting hybrid between a gaming console and a media streamer, although the media streaming functions are definitely the point of focus for this device.

Like the Roku, the Amazon Fire TV is a box that hooks up to your TV through an HDMI port and connects to thousands of media channels, allowing playback in 720p, 1080p, or even up to 4K assuming you have a TV that can handle it. It also comes with a remote control with support for voice search.


Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD Buy Now On Amazon

What’s nice about the Amazon Fire TV is that it has a relatively powerful mobile processor and a dedicated graphics engine — which means it can play games without much loss in performance — and even has an optional controller that you can plug in. Over 800 titles are supported, including Minecraft, Terraria, and The Walking Dead.

But is the ability to play games enough to warrant buying it? Not really. You’re better off playing mobile games on a mobile device, desktop games on a desktop computer, and investing in a device that’s wholly dedicated to media streaming instead.

Features at a glance:

  • Sleek design that matches well with any home media center.
  • Remote control for convenient browsing of content.
  • Compatible with Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu, and more.
  • Cost: $100.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a much better purchase than the Fire TV — not because it has more features, but because it’s more refined, more intentional, and priced more in line with its value.


Amazon Fire TV Stick - Previous Generation Amazon Fire TV Stick - Previous Generation Buy Now On Amazon

Most importantly, the Fire TV Stick has a sleeker design: it’s literally a stick that plugs into an HDMI port. It takes up very little physical space, making it comparable to the Roku Stick and Chromecast 1.0. However, this means giving up 5.1 surround sound.

It can also play all of the games that are available on the Fire TV except for the more graphically intense titles, and even then the gaming performance isn’t that smooth. Overall, the Fire TV Stick just isn’t as good as the other devices in the “media streaming stick” category.

Features at a glance:

  • Compact design that takes up no space.
  • Remote control for convenient browsing of content.
  • Compatible with Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu, and more.
  • Cost: $40 standard, $50 with voice remote.

Apple TV

A new version of the Apple TV has finally been released, which is great considering the fact that the last version debuted all the way back in 2012. The update comes with a price hike, but that’s to be expected with all of the new features and improvements.

The new Apple TV brings some neat features from iOS, including support for all kinds of apps (e.g. games, music, TV, utilities, etc) and a new remote control with Siri for voice commands. You can also play games, whether with the remote or a third-party Bluetooth controller.

But the lack of 4K support and the exorbitant price — it’s the most expensive device on this list — makes it a dubious purchase for anyone but the most hardcore of Apple fans. In its current state, the Apple TV’s value doesn’t match the cost.

Features at a glance:

  • Sleek design with a hefty aluminum body.
  • Full app ecosystem, including games, music, TV, and utilities.
  • Stream from your computer to your TV using iTunes.
  • Stream from your iOS device to your TV using AirPlay.
  • Cost: Starting at $149.

PlayStation 4 or Xbox One

People have firmly debated the merits of the PlayStation 4 PS4 vs Xbox One: 5 Reasons To Buy The PS4 E3 2013 marked the moment when the next-generation truly began, with all three contenders -- the PlayStation 4 (PS4), Xbox One, and Wii U -- revealed in full. The Wii U is already on the... Read More versus the merits of the Xbox One PS4 vs Xbox One: 5 Reasons To Buy The Xbox One This year's E3 felt almost like it was over before it began. Though the conference lasts for days, both Microsoft and Sony made their announcements before the doors opened, showing not just hardware but also... Read More ever since they debuted back in 2013, so comparing the two is beyond the scope of this article.

What we do want to highlight, however, is the fact that these two consoles can double as media streamers — if you’re willing to put up with the drawbacks.


The PlayStation 4 supports apps that allow streaming from Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Go, Hulu, YouTube, Redbox, Dish Network, and more. It can also play Blu-ray media and has the capability of 4K resolution playback (even though games don’t make use of this).


Xbox One 500 GB Console - Black [Discontinued] Xbox One 500 GB Console - Black [Discontinued] Buy Now On Amazon $269.99

The Xbox One supports apps that allow streaming from Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, YouTube, ESPN, Redbox, Pandora, Twitch, and more. Like the PlayStation 4, it can also play Blu-ray media and has support for 4K video resolution.

Nobody should buy either of these consoles just to stream entertainment to a TV. However, if you already own one of these, then you may not need to buy something like the Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV. Just something to keep in mind.

Which Media Streamer Do You Like Best?

Going forward, you may also be interested in the growing number of awesome Android TV boxes The Best Android TV Box for All Budgets Android TV boxes are a great way to add smart features and streaming to any television. Here are the best Android TV boxes. Read More , such as the Nvidia Shield. And not to state the obvious, but all of these make wonderful gifts for your movie-loving friends and family 10 Great Gifts for Movie Lovers of All Ages To help you decide what to buy the film fan in your life, we have put together a special guide to the best gift ideas for movie lovers this Christmas. Enjoy! Read More .

Hopefully we’ve helped you narrow down your list to the two or three that fit your needs the best. Personally, I think the Roku (the player or the stick, it doesn’t matter) is one of the best investments you can make going forward while the Chromecast offers the absolute most bang-for-your-buck.

So, which device appeals most to you? If you could design your ultimate media streaming device, what would it include? Please tell us all about it in the comments below!

Related topics: Apple TV, Chromecast, Media Streaming, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

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  1. shawn ro
    December 20, 2019 at 10:53 am

    The standout box is Sky Q, but it’s bigger and pricier than most. For a compact streaming-focused box then Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K and the Apple TV 4K box are the ones to go for 4K TVs or their equivalent HD boxes for screens without the highest resolution.

  2. Jake Chip
    October 31, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    I've had a few different media boxes and my preference is the MyMatrixTV android box for media streaming. It has the most content compared to the ones that I've used in the past.

  3. jitendra soni
    October 24, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Video streaming has never been as accessible or enjoyable as it is today.it is fastest growing areas of entertainment technology.Choosing a best device is up to you.it depends on 3 factors :pros and cons of device,your individual needs and offer of social media apps & gaming console.

  4. Ray Beck
    September 18, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Credibility of the entire article is to be questioned when the best device, the Nvidia Shield TV, isn't even mentioned.

  5. Joe Sixer
    January 6, 2016 at 12:32 am

    Nvidia Shield blows all the mentioned streamers out of the water and it's not even on the list! Kodi works fantastically with it. The only drawback in no Amazon streaming.

  6. KaPeer
    December 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Android TV box will do the trick too. You can use any app from Google Play store, web browser plus any media managers like Plex or Kodi. Build in SD card reader and few usb ports let you expand the memory and add peripherals. Add a controller and you've got yourself a gaming console! This is a lot for mostly less than $100!

  7. Mike B.
    December 16, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I just recently configured an MSI Cubi mini PC, a full featured Win7 PC. The same size as the WDTV I used to use. Full home network file sharing, web browsing to ANY website, email, etc, and of course all the streaming sites. More expensive than the other choices, but also much more flexible. Couldn't be happier with the final setup.

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      That sounds pretty nifty. I'll look into it, hopefully it's not TOO much more expensive than other choices, otherwise that would be a real dealbreaker for a lot of folks.

  8. Den
    December 16, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    I usually use Chromecast with an MCPlayer application to stream movies from various servers at home, I have (HD Homerun and PC with Serviiio).

  9. Denhelt
    December 14, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Nvidia shield it's by far better than apple tv, and it's not in this list

  10. cmcollins001
    December 12, 2015 at 9:44 am

    The Chromecast 1 still needed to be plugged if I remember correctly. I gave my original to the parents and picked up the 2, but I do remember having to provide it power.

    • cmcollins001
      December 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

      I currently use the Xbox 360 and the Chromecast. Between the two of them, I can usually accomplish whatever I need to accomplish. I do have an Apple TV I was given at a conference and I've only plugged it up once to see what the fuss was all about. I couldn't see that it did much more than the set up I already have, and I'm more heavily invested in the Android and/or Windows ecosystems. The Apple TV is the only Apple product I have.

      I have an old smartphone laying around that works great for downloading the majority of the apps that work with the Chromecast, such as HBO GO, Crackle, Vudu, Sling TV, etc. With Chromecast offering "goodies" on a regular basis, I can usually get a few months free of a new service, such as Sling TV, or an occasional free Google Play Movie rental.

      The Xbox is primarily for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or ESPN. I use the Xbox more for binge watching since it is a device that is plugged in and I don't have to think about charging a battery like I would with the cell phone.

  11. Mark Davies
    December 12, 2015 at 4:56 am

    All of these are great for use in the US but what about us overseas readers?

    • Tatoo49
      December 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      I use Chromecast and Netflix in Mexico. Will most likely need a VPN or SmartDNS software to appear to be in a covered country.

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Unfortunately I'm not sure what's good outside the US. Hopefully one of our readers can enlighten you, but VPNs seem to be a commonly used solution.

  12. Anonymous
    December 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Don't forget that the Playstation 3 can also stream to your TV... Netflix, Amazon, Hulu are all there. There is even a native Plex app in development of you're a PlexPass subscriber. (You don't NEED to be a subscriber tho to use the DLNA functionality, you just don't get the pretty interface and need to browse through the folder structure, but it's totally usable.) I think the PS3 also has the HBO app, maybe some others too... we just use N/A/H tho.

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      That's right, PS3 can stream media. I should've mentioned it but figured most PS3 owners would already know and people would rather buy the more recent PS4 if they needed something. Thanks for bringing that up, Thomas.

  13. ATEngineer
    December 11, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I started stream a few years ago with a WDTV that was excellent for playing local content from shared folders, and then the added Netflix - but then they dropped Netflix. I don't use them anymore other than the one that had netflix without updating it ever now.

    Tried AppleTV but it just cannot really stream local content unless it is under iTunes and in their very limited formats - have none of that so it is really only good for online rentals and Netflix. Never us it now.

    I finally spend a few weeks reordering and renaming all my local media to run Plex - It is not as easy as they claim and you have to add content in blocks with frequent metadata rematching. But the Roku3 with Plex is awesome. Best thing I ever tired.

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      I've heard many good things about Plex. Maybe it's about time I gave it a shot too. Thanks for sharing, ATEngineer. :) Glad you found something that works well for you.

  14. jay
    December 11, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I guess the main reason to get a fire tv is to install Kodi. All the other media streamers are excellent but difficult to none existent to get Kodi installed. ( especially for people with playstations or xbox) by

    • Anonymous
      December 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Check out FileBot to help with any future renaming projects. You can do mass renaming and should make the job earlier. Also check out MediaElch for getting Metadata and media art in order. Both are free.

    • Joel Lee
      December 20, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      I wasn't aware of that, thanks for the info Jay!