Chances are you want to improve your home entertainment experience if you buy a new streaming device. Maybe you've been using your phone for binge-watch sessions or your TV's built-in operating system just isn't cutting it anymore. Figuring out the differences between them can be difficult at this time. They're not the only gadgets that can deliver your latest obsession to your television. We'll give you our picks for the best streaming devices you can buy.

Who needs a streaming device?

You might not need a streaming device if you only use a few services. The most popular streaming services are usually included in the apps that most modern televisions ship with. The built-in operating systems on some TVs and soundbars allow for a wide selection of apps without the need for a separate device.

Adding a streaming stick to your tv is cheaper than buying a new tv. A dedicated streaming device has access to a lot more streaming services and apps. Voice control is a feature that some devices offer. Live TV services like Sling and Hulu Live aren't always available in basic TV interface, so cord cutter will benefit from this type of streaming hardware.

How to pick a streaming device

The platform, price and what you already have in your home are the most important things to consider when selecting a streaming device. The most popular streaming platforms are Amazon's Fire TV, Apple TV, and Google TV. The user interface is the primary difference between them. The basic grid layout of Roku, for example, is similar to the layout of Fire TV.

The starting price for a streaming device is $30, and can go up to $200, like the Apple TV 4K. Set-top boxes tend to be more expensive than sticks. The main reason to use a box is if you need to connect to the internet via the internet. Some models have additional features. Roku's set-top boxes have a version of the movie "Dolby Vision". One benefit of a set-top box is that they are easier to upgrade over time.

There are some features that are different. For example, Fire TV and Google TV use the same voice assistant. When it comes to devices from Amazon, Apple, and others, it is generally best to choose one that is in a previously chosen environment. The Apple TV would make more sense than the Fire TV for someone who is already a fan of the program. It isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but if you depend more on streaming services than buying or renting shows, the question isn't relevant. The details of each system will be included in the guide.

The best streaming sticks and other budget friendly options are listed below. Suggestions for set-top boxes were included.

Engadget picks

The best streaming stick: Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Roku Streaming Stick+

It packs a lot of features into a small and affordable package, and that's why it's one of the best streaming sticks on the market. It is easy to use and has a wide range of streaming options. Attach the power cable to your TV'sUSB port and plug it into your TV'sHDMI input. The rest of the installation process can be finished via the TV interface.

There's a lot of content on the Roku platform. More than half a million movies and TV episodes can be streamed. It is possible to find shows across a variety of platforms with the universal search. Amazon prioritized search results from its own service.

The Streaming Stick 4K is great for people who want to stream from their mac orios device. The Streaming Stick 4K supports a number of video formats.

If you don't want to disturb other members of your household, you can use the private listening feature on Roku. It is possible to do this via the app on both devices. The app can be used as a substitute for the physical remote control. It's a lot easier to use a keyboard on a phone than it is to use a remote.

You can use the voice commands to search for your favorite shows, adjust the volume or enable closed caption on the Streaming Stick 4K.

Upgrading to the Streaming Stick 4K+ is a good idea. The Streaming Stick 4K has all the features of the Streaming Stick, except it has a voice remote. If you say "Hey Roku, where's my remote?", you can find it and use the private listening feature without the app. Unless you really need that fancy remote, we recommend the Streaming Stick 4K.

Buy Roku Streaming Stick 4K at Amazon - $50

Also great: Chromecast with Google TV

Chromecast with Google TV

For a long time, there was a remote for the device. It was a simple way to watch shows on your phone or computer. The new Chromecast is not the same as the old one. It now has a dedicated remote control and a brand new menu interface. The best choice for those who want a more personalized interface and robust voice controls is the Chromecast.

One of the highlights of the new Chromecast is the updated version ofAndroid TV. You can personalize the home screen based on your viewing habits. There is a carousel of shows and a category called "Trending on Google." The row called "continue watching" offers a quick way to catch up on programming you were already watching.

Recommendations such as "shows about aliens" or "shows about murder" can be generated. Most of the shows are from services you already subscribe to. The Live TV tab is a channel guide for the service. The tab should work with other live TV services in the future, according to the internet giant.

A lot of information about a show or a movie can be found in the information section of the website. Right from the show page, you can add it to your watchlist. It's possible to rent or buy the show from the store.

One of the most popular features of the new Chromecast is the ability to use the Google Assistant. You can ask for a weather forecast. The results of contextual queries like "show me true crime documentaries" and " find movies with Bill Murray" are very relevant. You can control the TV with voice commands, such as turning it on and off.

4K is supported by the Chromecast with Google TV. It is not compatible with Macs and Apple devices. It doesn't currently carry Apple TV+. The latest Chromecast can't be powered by a TV'susb port, so you'll have to use the included 7.5 watt power adapter.

Buy Chromecast with Google TV at Amazon - $50

The best budget streaming device: Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon's Fire TV Stick lite is a decent alternative if you don't need 4k. It is one of the lowest priced streaming sticks on the market. Like its higher-end siblings, it comes with a voice remote.

The Fire TV Stick can't control your TV, so you have to use your television remote to power it on and off. It is not a big deal if it helps save you money. The Fire TV Stick 4K costs $50 more than the standard Fire TV Stick.

Nearly all of the popular streaming services are supported by Amazon's Fire TV There is a live page on the internet. You can use the Fire TV Stick lite to search for shows and ask general questions, but you can't use it to control the TV.

The Fire TV Stick lite is a good streaming device. The updated Fire TV interface adds features such as user profiles, a new main menu navigation bar, and a scrolling list of your favorite streaming apps.

The layout isn't as easy as it could be, but it's still easy to figure it out. The interface tends to prioritize Amazon Prime Video, and there are more ads on other platforms. If you want to update an older TV set without spending a lot of money, it is a good choice.

You can upgrade to the Fire TV Stick 4K or the Fire TV Stick 4K Max for more money. Both have 4K, but the Max has a faster processor and a better internet connection.

Buy Fire TV Stick Lite at Amazon - $30

Also great: Roku Express

Roku Express

The Streaming Stick+ has the same user interface as the Express, but it is housed in a small box. The remote control doesn't have a voice command button. The Express is a capable HD streaming device. It is very similar to the Express, except it has support for 4K, and it also has a voice remote. That could make it worthwhile.

Buy Roku Express at Amazon - $30

The best set-top box: Roku Ultra

Roku Ultra

The features of the Streaming Stick are the same as those of the Roku Ultra. There is a wide selection of content and a simple user interface. On top of that, the Ultra has support for Dolby Vision along with other features.

The Ultra comes with a voice remote. The remote has a couple of shortcut keys that you can use to control specific things. The Ultra has a remote finder in case you misplace it. The Ultra is the most capable device on the market, but it will cost you more.

Buy Roku Ultra at Amazon - $100

The best premium device: Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K

If you have a lot of Apple devices, the Apple TV 4K could be a good option. It can be used to stream in 4K, and it can also be used to stream from Mac and iPad. It is easy to use the tvOS platform. One Home Screen is a feature that allows you to sync apps and their layout across multiple Apple TVs, and you can use your voice to find your favorite shows.

The Apple TV is the only set-top box that works with all of Apple's products. You can use the Apple TV to purchase and rent movies, listen to music, play games, and run fitness classes.

If you own an Apple TV, it's likely you'll benefit from it. During setup, you can hold your phone up to the box to transfer all of your settings and passwords to the Remote app, which can be accessed via the control center. If you buy the new 2021 model, you will get the improved Siri remote and new features.

Buy Apple TV 4K at Amazon - $180

The best for gamers: NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

Shield TV Pro is an all-in-one device that allows you to stream movies, run a PLEX media server and play games. There is a chance that it will be upgraded to a version of Google TV in the future.

The Shield TV Pro can stream in native 4K and it can also upscale video to 4K with the company's artificial intelligence. It has 3 gigabytes of RAM, 16 gigabytes of storage, and two ports for connecting to the internet. There is also a microSD card slot and an HDMI sockets. It can be used to play most games from the Play Store.

The main reason you would choose the Shield TV Pro over other machines is that it has a cloud gaming service. If you have a fast internet connection, you can play top-tier PC games online.

Buy NVIDIA Shield TV Pro at Amazon - $200

The best gaming console for streaming: Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X

The Xbox is the best gaming console for the job, even though both the Sony and the Microsoft consoles can stream video. All of the usual streaming video apps are supported, including Apple TV+ and Disney+. The PS5 can't stream Disney+ in 4K or Dolby Atmos, which is disappointing if you want to see The Mandalorian in all it's glory.

That is not the case with the Series X, which is great for people with newer TVs. Game Pass, Microsoft's subscription service that has a large library of titles, is available on the Xbox, as well as the other gaming machines.

Buy Xbox Series X at Microsoft - $500