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5 best streaming devices

netflix on an imac
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You may believe that your smart TV is the finest video streaming device you have, but while most current televisions offer popular applications like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, owning a specialized streaming stick or box has some significant advantages.

For one thing, the operating system in your smart TV is embedded right into the hardware and might become obsolete long before it’s time to buy a new TV. With a separate plug-in streaming device, such as the Amazon Fire TV stick (£39.99, Amazon.co.uk) or the Roku streaming stick (£39.05, Amazon.co.uk), you can simply enhance the capabilities and performance of your TV without having to replace the entire set.

Whether you opt with Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon, or Nvidia, your plug-in streaming device will provide a better experience than your standard TV interface. The app variety is larger, which is perfect for aficionados of more obscure streaming platforms, and because streaming devices are intended for speed, they load quicker, have more intuitive interfaces, and smoother, more responsive menu navigation.

The finest streaming devices also have specialized smart remotes that may combine your existing TV and soundbar remotes into one, eliminating clutter and streamlining your TV viewing experience. The Nvidia Shield even allows you to ask Alexa to locate the remote control for you, ensuring that you never lose it down the back of the sofa again.

The optimal streaming device for you may also be determined by the sort of phone you use. The Apple TV 4K is a more expensive streaming box that doesn’t function well with Android phones, but it fits so well into the Apple ecosystem that brand loyalists will appreciate the easy setup and unique capabilities.

Nvidia shield TV pro

Operating system: Android TV

Streams: HD, 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR10, HDR10+

Number of apps: 6,500

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, the best streaming box money can buy, is essentially a powerful Android computer built on Nvidia’s industry-leading GeForce architecture. That means you can play PC games remotely, either from a gaming PC in another area of the home or through Nvidia’s games on demand service, in addition to fast and rapid app loading, light gaming, and video streaming via Android TV.

Roku streaming stick 4K

Operating system: Roku OS

Streams: HD, 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision

Number of apps: 30,000

The Roku streaming stick 4K is the most feature-rich streaming dongle Roku manufactures, and is small enough to fit into the HDMI port of a wall-mounted TV without protruding and obscuring the view. It, like the rest of the devices on our list, supports every major streaming app, from Netflix, Plex, and Amazon Prime Video to more esoteric ones like Shudder and Pluto TV.

Amazon fire TV stick 4K max

Operating system: Fire OS

Number of apps: 15,000

Streams: HD, 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR10, HDR10+

The Amazon Fire TV stick 4K max, the company’s greatest stick-style streaming device, fits neatly into your TV’s HDMI connection and provides access to all of your favorite streaming services in ultra high definition. We discovered that previous versions of Fire TV sticks were underpowered – programs would stutter and navigation would frequently lag and felt sluggish – but the current edition of the device tackles these issues with a faster CPU and more efficient software. The UI is lively, and loading times are much decreased.

Nvidia shield TV

Operating system: Android TV

Number of apps: 6,500

Streams: HD, 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR10, HDR10+

The non-pro version of the Nvidia Shield TV streamer has a tiny cigar-shaped form that is more suited for hiding behind wall-mounted TVs, but other from that, it offers the majority of the same features and functionalities as the more sophisticated variant. That means you still get a quick and responsive Android TV experience, extensive support for every major streaming platform and other third-party apps, powerful picture upscaling for converting 1080p material to crisp 4K video, and the greatest remote control of any streaming device available.

Chromecast with Google TV

Operating system: Android TV

Number of apps: 6,500

Streams: HD, 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Amos, HDR10, HDR10+

The first Chromecast devices were simply receiver dongles that let you to stream media from your phone to your TV. Chromecast with Google TV functions somewhat differently. You can still cast to it, but now you also get a complete remote control and the slick Google TV interface, which gathers most of your favorite streaming applications in one spot.

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