Streaming content on your TV is the new normal—in fact, plenty of people don't even have cable subscriptions anymore, in favor of sticking with platforms like Netflix and Hulu to watch all their favorite shows and videos. And streaming devices like the Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast all make tuning in even easier. But which one is right for you? If you're not sure, this guide can help. Find out the latest, most comprehensive editions, along with what's in the box, what they cost, and what sets them apart.
Latest Edition: Apple TV 4K
Price: From $179
What it comes with: The Apple TV 4K and power chord, a lightning to USB cable, and a Siri-enabled voice remote.
It's for you if... you frequently buy movies and TV shows on iTunes. In that case, the Apple TV is the device you want to go with. Why? Because the other streaming devices aren't made by Apple, and therefore don't have iTunes support. Beyond that, however, the Apple TV has apps for all the popular streaming platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and more (including many of your favorite cable networks.) It also comes with a voice remote with Siri capabilities, and if you have an iPhone, you can also control it from a free app.
Latest Edition: Roku Ultra
What it comes with: The Roku Ultra and power adapter, two AA batteries, and a voice remote that includes gaming buttons, a headphone jack for private listening to your TV, and a lost remote finder. Oh, and it comes with a set of JBL earbuds, too.
It's for you if... you want the most popular streaming device brand, and a device that's not tied to any one streaming service. Again, you won't have iTunes support on the Roku, but Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO NOW, YouTube, and the most popular cable networks are all available to connect to the device. It can also pair up with your Google Assistant, if you'd like. And if you don't need all of the features the Ultra has to offer, there are Roku options in just about every price range. You can also buy Roku TVs, which have Roku capabilities built right in.
Amazon Fire TV
Latest Edition: Fire TV Cube
What it comes with: The Fire TV Cube, an Alexa-enabled voice remote, a power adapter, an ethernet adapter, an extender cable, and two AAA batteries.
It's for you if... you want your TV to also work as an Alexa device. The Fire TV Cube does more than just enable streaming services like Amazon Prime Video (of course, this is Amazon after all), Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, and other cable networks and offer you a voice remote option—it also serves as a smart assistant on its own. The Fire TV Cube has a built-in speaker with Alexa capabilities, so not only can you control your TV, you can ask it for information about the weather, check your calendar, set alarms, listen to the news, and more, and your TV doesn't even need to be on for those features to work. If you want something simpler (or already have an Amazon Echo device to use as a smart assistant) you can stick with an Amazon Fire TV Stick, which runs for $39.99.
Latest Edition: Chromecast Ultra
What it comes with: The Chromecast Ultra and power adapter, an ethernet adapter.
It's for you if... you're always losing your remote. The Google Chromecast is one of the most affordable options out there, but it's different from the other streaming devices in that it doesn't come with a physical remote. Instead of being a separate device full of all your favorite streaming platforms (again, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO NOW, and the like are all supported), the Chromecast Ultra connects to your TV and allows you to stream content via the streaming apps you have on your phone, meaning your phone acts as the remote and the source of all your shows, movies, and other videos. Another thing to note: If you use Amazon Prime Video as a streaming platform, you won't be able to use it with a Chromecast device, so you might want to go with one of the other options on this list.
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