Whether you’ve just gotten rid of cable or want to supplement your TV package with online video, now’s an excellent time to buy a media streaming device. Compared to the typical smart TV, standalone streamers such as the Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon Fire TV tend to have bigger app selections, faster performance, and more features. And with so much competition between device makers, the hardware is becoming faster, more capable, and more affordable.

We constantly test all the latest devices, including Roku players, Fire TV devices, Android TV devices, Apple TV, and Chromecast. We review each new generation of hardware and constantly revisit the software and app selection so we can help you determine which platform is right for you. Here are our picks for the best streaming boxes and sticks, along with all of our most current product reviews. Our recommendations will change over time as new products come to market. 

Updated October 31 to include our hands-on reviews of the all-new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Roku Premiere+ (2018), and Roku Premiere (2018). Amazon’s stick is our new top recommendation in this category, and Roku’s Premiere+ takes the runner-up spot. 

Best 4K HDR streaming device

Amazon got pretty much everything right with its latest streaming stick. The Amazon Fire TV 4K of course supports 4K streaming, but it also delivers all the HDR formats you could want (including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), it supports Dolby Atmos soundtracks for truly immersive audio, and it includes hardware-accelerated MPEG-2 video decoding for cord cutters who want to stream live TV over their home networks. 

You’ll find Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant onboard, too, and the new remote can control your TV’s power and volume—including a mute function. It’s not absolutely perfect—YouTube TV subscribers will be disappointed to hear they’ve been ignored—but it is the best deal in media streaming hardware you can buy today.

Runner-up

While it hit the market around this time in 2017, the Roku Streaming Stick+ remains a strong contender, and it’s a great choice for YouTube TV subscribers. You’ll find a lot to like in Roku’s user interface, its dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter, and its remote control. It’s a 4K streamer of course, but it supports only conventional HDR, not HDR+ or Dolby Vision. 

If you don’t need to the stronger Wi-Fi capabilities the Roku Streaming Stick+ offers, the latest version of the Roku Premiere+ offers many of the same features and costs $10 less.

Other options to consider

Apple TV 4K is very expensive, but it’s an obvious choice for folks who’ve devoted themselves to the Apple ecosystem. It’s the only streaming box that supports iTunes videos, Apple Music, and AirPlay streaming—not to mention Dolby Vision HDR—and it serves as a HomeKit hub for remote control of your smart home.



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