Best streaming devices 2019: Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more

Our pick of the best streaming devices will let you have Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Video and all the rest at your fingertips. Oooh, just think: Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more...

The best streaming devices: two men watching tv via streaming device

You'll be on the lookout for the best streaming devices if you're a fan of streaming services such as Netflix, Now TV, Amazon and all the res. Use them to optimise your viewing experience, and you can ensure you never miss out on your favourite box sets again.

After all, sometimes the usual FreeSat and FreeView channels just aren’t enough. Plus, if you own a TV that doesn’t boast an in-built smart hub or offer up Wi-Fi connectivity, you'll need a streaming device to bridge the gap.

With offerings including Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more, we've rounded up our pick of the best streaming devices to ease the buying process. Not sure why you'd need one? Find out with the help of these 10 reasons why you need a smart streamer.

Looking to build a more extensive smart technology system for your living room? Take a look at our guide to the best smart tech for living rooms. The, for more advice, information and handy buying guides, take a look at our technology hub page. 

What is the best streaming device?

The best streaming device is the Google Chromecast Ultra, thanks, primarily, to its ease of use. This handy device enables users to stream almost anything – including Netflix and YouTube – directly from their phone to the TV, simply by plugging this small, and handy device into the HDMI port round the back of the TV.

With a variety of third party apps available, it's never been easier to stream TV, music, films and more. Plus, if you have a 4K TV, it's possible to stream compatible content in that quality, too.

Tempted by a TV upgrade, too? Browse our handy buying guides:

  • The best TV deals - our round up of the best deals currently available, perfect those seeking better viewing quality on a budget
  • The best 4K TVs - as mentioned, many streaming devices offer compatible content
  • The best Smart TVs - don't fancy faffing around with a streaming device? Opt for the Smart TV and benefit from having your streaming services built-in

How to buy the best streaming device

In order to ensure you're buying the best streaming device to suit your needs, it's worth bearing the following factors in mind:

Internet connection 

The quality of your streaming service is dependent on the quality of your internet connection, so it's worth checking that the quality of  your connection is capable of withstanding the demands of a streaming device, before committing to a purchase.

Not sure it will? Browse our pick of the best fibre broadband deals for an upgrade that won't break the bank (we promise).

Consider what you want from your streaming device

Are you simply looking to stream films and TV in the best quality possible? Or are you looking for the best streaming device to support gaming, too? Look into the capability of each streaming device before committing to a purchase.

Will a specific streaming device better suit your needs?

Those with Android devices may be better suited to an android enabled model, such as the Google Chromecast Ultra, to fire across to the TV whatever they’re viewing on their phone or tablet, while those with iPhones may want to look into the Apple TV 4K to keep all devices synced up. In the long term, it'll be easier for you to stick to one platform.

Will you be using your streaming device while abroad? 

Don't let work trips, holidays and gap yah's get in the way of you and your favourite series. If you're away regularly, it may be worth investing in a VPN.

Put simply, a VPN allows you to get around geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear to be in another location. So, if your favourite series is only available in the UK, you can change your location to get around the limitations. Genius.

We'd recommend investing in ExpressVPN, currently the tried-and-tested number one best rated VPN available. It's compatible with Smart TVs, Fire TV sticks PC, Mac, iPhone, Android and more. Plus, it comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, should you be dissatisfied. 

The best streaming devices available right now

You'll find our pick of the best streaming devices below. We've considered everything from connectivity and compatibility to affordability, so you're sure to find a model that best suits your requirements.

the best streaming devices: Google Chromecast Ultra

1. Google Chromecast Ultra

Best TV streaming device: broadcast films, music and games from your smartphone to your TV

Specifications
Streaming quality: 4K Ultra HD
Internet connection: Wi-Fi or ethernet
Power: USB
Remote: No
Reasons to buy
+ Convenient to use + Optimises content in accordance with your TV’s capabilities 
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't come with a remote

If you don’t already have smart apps like Netflix or YouTube on your TV, picking up a Google Chromecast will allow you to stream almost anything you want directly from your phone to your TV. 

What does it do well?

Easy set-up

All you have to do is plug the Google Chromecast Ultra into your HDMI port on the back or side of your TV and connect it up to your home internet.

Connect to third party apps

There is a variety of third-party apps that have Google Chromecast support so you can then stream TV, movies, music, songs, sports and more directly from your phone up to your TV with ease. Want to watch the latest episode of that BBC iPlayer drama you’ve been bingeing? You can do that from your phone or tablet with a Chromecast Ultra.

Including those that offer 4K

Plus if you have a 4K TV, the Google Chromecast Ultra will be able to stream compatible TV shows and movies in that quality too.

Use voice control

Got Google Home smarts? You can start streaming with just your voice. Simply tell Google Home what you want to watch from compatible apps and control your TV hands-free, with Chromecast and Google Home working seamlessly together. 'Google, play Game of Thrones from the beginning (again).'

What to be aware of

Strong internet connection required

You’ll need some very strong internet to get all of the benefits of this, but it’s possible and one of the best ways to watch TV online in the best quality possible.

Comes without a remote control

It should be noted that it doesn't come with a remote control; instead, your phone is used as the remote, which could be hugely beneficial for some, but not so much for others.

Try AO for more streaming devices

the best streaming devices: amazon fire TV with ultra HD

2. Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote

Best smart streaming device for Amazon Prime members: smart home owners should take a look at the Amazon Fire TV

Specifications
Streaming quality: 4K Ultra HD
Internet connection: Wi-Fi
Power: Micro USB
Remote: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ 10,000 channels and apps + Control with Alexa voice remote 
Reasons to avoid
-Small may not be ideal for some

As a good all-rounder, you can’t really go wrong with the Amazon Fire TV. With heaps of channels and apps to choose from, there’s enough content for hours and hours of entertainment. Here's what you need to know about it:

What does it do well?

4K capability

It can play back in 4K, great for those who want to make the most out of their 4K TV’s capabilities. It allows you to watch all your favourite shows from Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, ITV, Channel 4, Disney, Curzon and others.

Browse third party apps

You can also use Firefox or Silk to browse websites like YouTube, Facebook and Reddit. Plus there is tons of storage on the stick for apps and games.

Control using Alexa

And of course, you can use the Alexa controlled voice remote to change channels and switch over apps without having to lift a finger. Check the weather, dim the lights and stream music, too. In fact, it works with lots of voice assistants including Alexa, Nest, Hive and TP Link, however isn't yet compatible with Google Assistant.

Control a compatible TV 

Use the dedicated power, volume and mute buttons to control your compatible TV, soundbar and receiver.

What to be aware of

Limitations for non-Prime members

Only Amazon Prime members get unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV episodes, as well as the ad-free Prime Music service. And some shows come with additional fees applied, but this is obvious as you search. 

Browse Amazon for more streaming devices

the best streaming device: Roku Streaming Stick Plus

3. Roku Streaming Stick Plus

Best streaming stick: the top pick for cheap streaming

Specifications
Streaming quality: 4K Ultra HD
Internet connection: Wi-Fi
Power: Battery
Remote: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Great Wi-Fi pick up range + Great value 
Reasons to avoid
-A pain if you loose the power cable-Requires a 4K Tv for compatibility

While it may not carry the big brand name of some of the other smart streamers on our list, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus is certainly worth a mention. Here's what you need to know about it:

What does it do well?

Fast and effective streaming

Thanks to the advanced wireless receiver, it should be able to pick up signal wherever the router is in the house (or hotel, if you take it with you on holiday), giving you smoother streaming and faster access. 

Enjoy access to a variety of third party platforms

In addition to giving you access to the usual streaming channels such as Netflix and Now TV, there’s also an index of Catch Up apps, including BBC iPlayer and ITV Player so you will literally ‘never miss a show again.'

There's access to Amazon Video and YouTube, too, plus 150,000 movies and TV episodes across both free and paid channels. Apps are quick to load and incredibly stable, so there's no distractions.

Connect your smartphone

The free mobile app for iOS or Android allows you to send video, music, and photos to your TV, too.

4K, HDR and HD ready

Better still, this streaming device streams in brilliant 4K, HDR and HD. What else do we like? A new remote lets you control your TV with buttons for TV power and volume.

What to be aware of

Requires a 4K TV

TV power and volume buttons require a compatible TV, while, for 4K/HDR, you will need 4K/HDR content and a compatible 4K/HDR TV.

Take a look on Very for more amazing offers on streaming devices

the best streaming devices: Apple TV 4K

4. Apple TV 4K

Best 4K streaming device: play all of your Apple content and your regular content from one place

Specifications
Streaming quality: 4K HDR
Internet connection: Wi-Fi or ethernet
Power: Mains
Remote: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ HDR technology for high quality viewing + A10X Fusion Chip for a better gaming experience 
Reasons to avoid
-No Amazon video

Playing your Apple content as well as content from Netflix, Amazon and Now TV is just one of the Apple TV 4K’s many tricks. Here's everything you need to know about it

What does it do well?

Benefit from HDR upscaling

If you're not prepared to compromise, when it comes to quality, and already have a 4K TV, you\ll love this streamer's HDR upscaling.

Use voice control

If you're a lover of Apple products, you'll find the handy Siri remote a useful addition to your voice-control arsenal, turning your favourite iPhone or iPad apps into the entertainment channels on your TV. As well as Siri, the remote has a Touch surface to let you use it like you use your iPhone.

Stream from a range of third party platforms

In addition to the thousands of HD and UHD movies and TV shows from iTunes, entertainment, plus a range of services from the likes of Netflix, NOW TV, Sky Sports Day Pass, Sky News, YouTube, VEVO and more, this streaming device lets you to share photos, presentations, websites and music, and the A10X Fusion chip provides you with an interactive games and apps experience.

Easy set-up

Like other streaming devices, it's easy to set up; plug the power cord into the wall and connect Apple TV 4K to your TV with a separate HDMI cable. Everything then streams wirelessly to Apple TV 4K via 

What to be aware of

Additional subscriptions may be required

As with other streaming devices, additional subscriptions might be required; some features require iOS 11; and iTunes purchasing and renting and Home Sharing require an iTunes Store account. 

Read our full review of Apple TV. Then, browse John Lewis & Partners for more streaming devices

the best streaming devices: Nvidia Shield 2017

5. Nvidia Shield 2017

Best streaming device for PC games: gamers, step this way

Specifications
Streaming quality: 4K HDR
Internet connection: Wi-Fi or ethernet
Power: Mains
Remote: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ View PC games on the big screen + Built in Chromecast 
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

The Nvidia Shield is a clever streaming device which has the ability to transmit your PC game from your PC screen to the TV. Here's what you need to know about it:

What does it do well?

Impressive graphics for gamers

Thanks to its HDR capabilities, the games' graphics will be shown in 4K HDR killer picture quality too, creating an immersive gaming experience. Play exclusive Android games or cast your PC game library from your GeForce GTX-powered rig to your living room in up to 4K HDR with NVIDIA GameStream.

Play on-demand PC games

GeForce NOW: play on-demand PC games, supercharged Pascal GPUs in the cloud power gameplay four times faster than 'next-gen' game consoles. Multiplayer gaming, online leaderboards, login and play anywhere there’s a SHIELD. 

Connect to third-party streaming platforms

In addition to gaming, you can view the latest shows and movies, download apps including Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, Spotify, Plex, Kodi (with more joining the line-up all the time) via the Android TV App store.

Comes with built in Chromecast 

Plus you can share videos and photos with your family using the built- in Chromecast. All in all, a super smart streamer, ideal for pleasing everyone.  

Take advantage of voice control

If you've got Google Home Assistant powered up at home, you can take advantage of the voice command, too 

What to be aware of

Pricey

This is a pricey piece of kit that's only really worth the investment if you're interested in its gaming capabilities, as well as straight forward streaming. If you're not sure how much you'll use it for gaming, it may be worth opting for something a little more budget-friendly.

Check out Currys PC World for more options when it comes to choosing the best streaming device for you

the best streaming devices: Sky NOW TV Box

6. Sky NOW TV Box

Best streaming device for sports fans: a basic box with some great TV content

Specifications
Streaming quality: Full HD
Internet connection: Wi-Fi or ethernet
Power: HDMI
Remote: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Sky Cinema pass for latest releases + Watch sports and TV shows with no contract 
Reasons to avoid
-Unusable USB and microSD ports

If you’re tired of not finding anything to watch on regular television, invest in a Sky NOW TV Box. Here are our favourite features:

What does it do well?

Enjoy Sky, without being tied into a contract

With NOW TV Passes you can watch 1000+ movies, over 300 box sets, quality kids TV, from Nickelodeon to the Discovery channels, plus 24 hours of all 11 Sky Sports channels (which is probably its biggest draw for some. In other words, you can use it to access lots of additional content that you would otherwise have to tie yourself into a contract for if you bought a Sky box.

Stream from third-party apps

In addition, in terms of extra content, there’s all the usual catch up apps plus you can pause and rewind live TV, great if you fancy a cup of tea halfway through watching your favourite programme.   

Use voice control

As you'd expect, there's voice search to find your favourite shows and films, meaning you never have to suffer the frustration of being unable to find the remote, again.

Simple set-up

Set up is simple, too: plug the Smart Box into your TV, redeem your Passes and start watching instantly.

What to be aware of

You may need to make additional investments

Passes: you'll need to investigate the bundles carefully to get the best TV-watching experience for you.

Take a look at eBay for more deals on streaming devices

the best streaming device: Google Chromecast

7. Google Chromecast

Best cheap streaming device: the little brother to the Google Chromecast Ultra

Specifications
Streaming quality: Full HD
Internet connection: Wi-Fi
Power: Mains
Remote: No
Reasons to buy
+ Cheap and cheerful + Receives video, photo and apps from your phone 
Reasons to avoid
-No remote control

If you don’t own a 4K UHD TV, there’s probably not much point in you paying out for the Chromecast Ultra, as you won't benefit from everything it has to offer.

Transmitting your phone’s content in HD, the Google Chromecast however, is the perfect smart streamer for those still interested in streaming. Here's everything you need to know about it:

What does it do well?

Stream directly from your devices

While it doesn’t boast an ethernet connection like the Ultra, it lets you access sport, movies, TV shows, games, music and more from your phone, tablet, laptop or Mac.

Or third-party apps

It has the ability to play back content from a whole host of apps, including Netflix and the NOW TV app, plus some games apps are compatible with the Chromecast, too.  

Use your phone as a remote

You can use your phone as your remote, too: just tap the Cast button in your apps to start watching on the TV. Then you can search, play, pause (and more) from your phone. For apps that aren't Cast-enabled, you can use your Android phone or tablet to display what's on your screen to the TV. Plus, you can mirror your laptop's Chrome browser to the TV.

Enjoy impressive picture quality

Picture quality will be good, too, thanks to an enhanced video resolution and lower buffering. 

Use voice control

You can pair Chromecast with a Google Home device, streaming your favourite entertainment with voice control, too.

What to be aware of

Basic set-up

While the Google Chromecast is a great entry-point streaming device, it is quite simple in its design, interface and functionality. If you're looking for something a little more high quality, that can enhance picture quality or complement a 4K TV, this may not be it. 

the best streaming devices: Now TV Stick

8. Now TV Stick

Best streaming device for kids: another kid’s room alternative

Specifications
Streaming quality: Full HD
Internet connection: Wi-Fi
Power: Mains
Remote: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Great value for money + All your favourite apps plus contract-free Sky
Reasons to avoid
-No Netflix or Amazon Prime

If you’re not too worried about an ethernet cable or being able to pause and playback live TV then the NOW TV Stick may be the better option. Here's everything you need to know about it:

What's it good at?

Affordable

Price. Costing just under £15, there’s plenty of content available, including over 300 box sets and additional SKY content, plus playback apps including iPlayer and ITV player.

Plenty of content on offer

With NOW TV Entertainment and SKY Box Office packages available, you’ll never be short on content, plus the Smart Stick gives you access to catch up services on demand, including BBC iPlayer, plus apps such as Netflix, Vevo and YouTube.

Benefit from voice control

As with other streaming devices, the option for voice search is available, so you can instantly pull up what you want to watch.

Easy to set up

And, it's easy to set up: simply plug the stuck into your TV and you have instant access, with no hidden fees.

What to be aware of

Additional subscriptions required

You'll need the NOW TV Entertainment Pass to get you started. With additional NOW TV Passes you can, however, access Sky Cinema's 1,000+ movies, 10 Sky Sports channels, and quality kids' shows.

Browse Now TV for more streaming devices

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