June 20, 2024

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The 2 Best Media Streaming Devices of 2024

3 min read

Who needs a separate streaming media player these days, right? You have plenty of ways to get apps such as Netflix or Disney+ on your TV screen. Pretty much all modern TVs are smart TVs with streaming services baked right in. Sources like Blu-ray players, game consoles, and cable boxes also have built-in apps. If you’re a casual streamer who subscribes to only one or two services, your current smart device will probably suffice.

But if streaming is your primary way of connecting to the home-entertainment world, you should get a dedicated media streaming device that’s more powerful, more customizable, and more diverse in its offerings. We recommend the Google Chromecast with Google TV because its modern interface, advanced search functionality, and ease of use set it squarely ahead of the competition.

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Our pick

This player offers an intuitive interface, intelligent search, and a useful remote. But you can’t power it off your TV’s USB port.

Google’s Chromecast with Google TV does the best job of finding and organizing streamed video content, and it has all the features we look for in a media streaming device—including support for Dolby Vision HDR video, Dolby Atmos audio, and Bluetooth audio output.

Instead of presenting a grid of separate streaming apps the way many competing platforms do, the Google TV home page prioritizes recently watched shows and movies, as well as personalized recommendations, and it adds a live-TV interface that works across several apps. This design makes it easier and faster to find what you want to watch. Streaming content from mobile devices via Chromecast is simple, too.

The player itself is fairly compact and comes with a Bluetooth-based remote that supports voice search and control of a TV’s volume and power. But this player can’t draw power from the USB port on your TV or projector as some competitors can.

Runner-up

This small player has a clean, simple interface and can draw power from your TV’s USB port, but its search and discovery features are less robust.

If you’re okay with a more simplistic, app-centric interface, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K has an extensive selection of streaming services and supports all the major 4K HDR video standards. This small HDMI stick conveniently plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI input and can draw power from your TV’s USB port. Thanks to its inclusion of AirPlay 2 support, you can easily stream from iOS devices.

The RF-based remote can work through walls and cabinets, has dedicated power and volume controls for your TV, and includes a microphone for voice search. For $30, you can upgrade to the rechargeable Roku Voice Remote Pro, which adds a headphone jack, a remote finder, and an optional always-on voice assistant.

Roku’s interface is clean, uncluttered, and customizable, but it feels dated and doesn’t integrate all your preferred content into one menu the way the Chromecast’s Google TV interface does. To make the most of the Roku experience, you really need the Roku mobile app.

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