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Breaking Down: Streaming Devices

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Roughly 64% of adults are making the move, or have already made the move, to become a streaming-only household. Streaming has gotten more popular over the years for several reasons, including that it's cheaper and it's on-demand.


Do you stream, or are you still a cable/satellite user? Maybe you're both. If you're interested in streaming but haven't made the move yet, keep reading to help you make a more informed decision.


First, if you have a smart TV, you don't always need a streaming device. Most TVs have the same amount of apps as a third-party device. Second, not all streaming devices are the same. I'll share the differences below. Last, streaming devices do not have a subscription. You purchase the device and pay for the apps/streaming services monthly.


Below are six different brands and what they offer. Anymore, most streaming devices are very similar but offer a few differences. They're all pretty easy to set up. The most time-consuming part of the setup is signing into the apps. There is a device for all budgets, too. They range from $29 to $200. Below are some of the more popular streaming devices and what they offer.


Starting with Roku


Roku

CNET


The online consensus is that the Roku Express 4K+ is the best Roku device and the overall best streaming device. It's sitting at $29 at the time of me writing this. The remote is voice-controlled and also works as your TV controls. It offers 4K and HDR color. It also offers Airplay, so you can now connect your Apple devices to your TV.


Another high-ranking Roku device is the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+. This one is currently priced at $44. The "box" with this is perfect for mounted TVs because it plugs right into your TV with no cords. It has Dolby Vision, but it appears it's not as impressive as it could be. The remote has a "private listening" option, so you can plug in headphones. The remote is voice-controlled and rechargeable. One of the better options on the remote includes setting your own shortcuts.


Lastly, one of the newer and more interesting Roku devices is the Roku Streambar Pro. I've written about the original Streambar before. It's priced at $180 right now. This device includes a soundbar with Dolby Audio that has to ability to automatically quiet loud commercials and is considered "virtual surround sound." You can connect via Bluetooth and Airplay. The remote is also voice-controlled and has personal shortcuts.


All Roku devices offer the same base options, so if you're looking for a device that does a little more, those listed above are some of your best choices. We recommend Roku devices.

Sidenote: you can also purchase a Roku TV. There are tons of options when it comes to TVs, so check all of the specs when you're researching those.


Next is the Apple TV


Apple TV

CNET


There are currently two Apple TV devices: Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. The 4K one has better specs than the HD one but is $30-$50 more depending on the amount of storage you buy. I recommend the 4K (second-gen version, so I'm going to speak on that here). First, the remote has been upgraded. It's controlled by Siri, has a "click pad" making navigation easy, and finally has a back button. You can play Apple Arcade with this device, and rumor has it, Apple is making a gaming controller for the Apple TV. There are no major streaming differences with this device. It all just comes down to brand preference.


If you don't use Apple TV or Apple products, this device may be a waste of money for you.


TiVo anyone?