Best streaming device for your TV in 2021

Looking for the best streaming device in 2021? You’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the latest and greatest models – be they streaming sticks, dongles or dedicated media players.

Given that streaming devices are constantly being upgraded, there’s more choice than ever, but that also makes pinning down the right product for you a more difficult process.

You can now get HBO Max on Roku streamers, for instance, and Dolby Vision support seems just around the corner for the Roku Premiere. But Amazon’s Fire TV range also recently received a major OS update, which added improvements like new user profiles, simplified menus and the ability to pin your favorite apps.

The point being, there’s never been a better time to grab yourself a streaming device, especially when many of the below models are available to buy as part of deals that tie-in to subscription services like Disney Plus and Netflix.

We’ve tested each model on this list, so we know which products – whether from Amazon, Apple, Roku and Nvidia – work best for which use cases, and you’ll soon be on your way to upgrading your home viewing experience.

While you’re here, you might want to check out our guides to the best routers and best Wi-Fi extenders, too, to ensure a less-than-speedy network connection doesn’t interrupt your viewing experience.

Best streaming devices

(Image credit: Future)

Best 4K streaming device: Nvidia Shield TV / Pro

Thanks to killer AI upscaling, the Shield and Shield Pro are the best streaming devices on the market

Reasons to buy
+AI Upscaling+Google Assistant built in

Reasons to avoid
No Apple TV appNo USB ports for extra storage

At three times the cost of entry-level 4K HDR streaming players, the Nvidia Shield TV isn’t cheap, but it’s an incredibly powerful streaming player thanks to its cutting-edge AI upscaling tech and its support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision content.

With it, you’ll also get the revamped Shield remote and the latest version of Android TV, which serves as a gateway to Nvidia’s game-streaming service, Geforce Now.

But the feature that puts it miles ahead of the competition is Nvidia’s new AI upscaling feature – it’s one of the coolest features in any streaming device right now. It’s powered by a neural network that has been ‘trained’ using thousands of hours of footage and which can hugely sharpen content, making HD content from the last 20 years look like it was shot earlier this year with a 4K video camera. It’s wild.

It has a few limitations – notably it doesn’t offer Apple TV, and it costs a bit more than a Roku Streaming Stick – but you get what you pay for here. The Pro model adds an additional 1GB of added RAM and a larger hard drive, too, though you’re be forking out a bit more cash for the premium model.

Read our full review: Nvidia Shield (2019) / Nvidia Shield TV Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Best iOS streaming device: Apple TV 4K (2021)

The latest iteration of Apple’s 4K HDR streaming box

Reasons to buy
+High-frame-rate HDR support+Redesigned Siri remote

Reasons to avoid
ExpensiveDoesn’t work with Android

We finally have an upgrade to the 2017 Apple TV 4K, and it’s well worth a look for those of you in the iOS ecosystem.

The Apple TV 4K (2021) is a slick streaming device, which can play 4K video in HDR and Dolby Vision, and supports high-frame-rate HDR to make fast action and sports look smooth and clear. The new A12 processor definitely ups Apple’s game here, with improved pictures and power for TV and games alike (great for Apple Arcade subscribers who like playing in their living room).

The revamped Siri remote is a pleasure to use, and there are plenty of small but handy features, such as multi-user support and the ability to tweak your TV’s color balance automatically.

There’s no denying it’s expensive, but it’s more than just a way to watch movies and TV shows, doubling up a smart hub with Thread smart home technology that enables your smart home gadgets from different manufacturers to work together more seamlessly.

The Apple TV 4K 2021 doesn’t do a lot different compared to the previous model, and if you’re still sporting the 2017 iteration, there’s not much impetus to upgrade. The only game-changing difference is the new Siri Remote, though it’s available to buy separately, meaning you don’t need to get a whole hardware refresh to get the benefit.

Read the full review: Apple TV 4K (2021)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best budget streaming device: Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

For Amazon and Netflix content, this stick’s user interface is a dream

Reasons to buy
+60fps and HDR+Good value

Reasons to avoid
Only HD streamingPersistent adsNo volume controls

The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite is a smart buy for those on a budget, if you’re willing to accept some of its compromises compared to the Fire TV Stick (2020) or Fire TV Stick 4K.

This HD streamer won’t offer sparkling 4K detail, but you do get the basics of HDR / HDR10+ support, as well as 60fps playback for smooth action in a movie blockbuster or sports match. The Quad-core 1.7 GHz processor is a step up from the 1.3 GHz processor used in the 2nd-generation Fire TV Stick too.

You are sacrificing volume controls and AV controls on the remote, though this isn’t irregular for streamers at this price.

Less forgivable is the at-times domineering presence of Amazon-owned or Amazon-affiliated content across the Fire TV operating system, including ads for Audible subscriptions on every menu pane – but if you’re a Prime subscriber this should be less of an issue for you.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV Stick

(Image credit: Google)

Best all-rounder: Chromecast with Google TV

Chromecast remains one of the best value products in streaming video

Reasons to buy
+4K HDR with Dolby Vision+Google Assistant built in+Comes with a remote

Reasons to avoid
Slow to load at startupGoogle TV UI is uninspiredNo Google Stadia support

Google’s Chromecast with Google TV (2020) is a revelation – it fixes something that wasn’t broken, and improves a nearly perfect technology in a tangible way. And it’s all thanks to the remote and Google’s ‘new’ software, Google TV.

Combined, the two offer a massive uptick in usability over previous Chromecasts that required you to use your phone or tablet to Cast content rather than giving you an on-screen interface to interact with.

But now that Google has added a dedicated TV interface that you control with a remote, you have instant access to most of the major streaming services, including Disney Plus, HBO Max and even the streaming app of its biggest competitor, Amazon Prime Video. On top of that, there are a number of apps that have been carried over from Android TV, Google TV’s predecessor, that bring games and productivity apps to the streamer.

The result is a retooled streaming device that might resemble its predecessors, but which offers a whole new experience that’s more user-friendly for folks who are used to using a remote control and an easily navigable interface. The classic Google Cast functionality is always straightforward and simple to use, too, and works across literally thousands of apps.

Read the full review: Chromecast with Google TV

(Image credit: Future)

Best HD streaming device: Roku Express

A low-cost streaming stick powered by Roku TV – what’s not to love?

Reasons to buy
+Roku TV interface+Great app support+Super cheap

Reasons to avoid
Basic IR remoteCan’t stream 4K HDR contentSuper short HDMI cable

The Roku Express is a marvel of a streaming stick. While it’s capped at Full HD streaming, it still packs in a huge range of streaming apps on the excellent Roku platform at an incredibly inexpensive price.

The Roku remote is quite iconic these days: nowhere near as sleek as the Alexa Voice Remote that ships with the Fire TV Stick, but pleasingly straightforward in its own way, featuring chunky and highly visible buttons. The Roku remote was featuring dedicated shortcuts to key apps long before Amazon, too.

We can’t stress enough how simple it is to navigate the Roku OS, too – there’s a reason it’s been ported over to TCL Roku TVs and Hisense Roku TVs alike, with well-organised tile icons for easy browsing, as well as a free ad-supported Roku Channel platform.

For a quick, cheap and easy-to-use dongle to get you started in the world of streaming, you can’t go wrong with the Roku Express.

Of course, if you like the look of the Roku Express but can’t bear to settle for HD streaming on your 4K TV, you can check out the Roku Streaming Stick+, or the upcoming Roku Express 4K+ complete with a rechargeable remote that finally ditches disposable batteries.

Read the full review: Roku Express (2019)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best Alexa streaming device: Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019)

The Amazon Echo streaming player hybrid is back and better than ever

Reasons to buy
+Voice Control+Built-in Alexa

Reasons to avoid
Panders to Amazon PrimeNo HDMI cable in the box

While it can’t match the AI upscaling of the Nvidia Shield or the usability of the Apple TV 4K, the second-generation Fire TV Cube is, by far, our favorite Amazon streaming device – it’s better in so many ways than the Amazon Fire TV Cube that was released in 2017, and every single Amazon Fire TV box before it.

By packing in the smart functionality and speakers of an Amazon Echo, it’s a versatile smart speaker as well as competent media player and streamer. For the 2019 version of the Cube, the processor upgrade and inclusion of Dolby Vision are great new additions and, in spite of a few shortcomings, help to solidify the Cube’s spot as one of the best streaming players to be released this year.

Yes, technically speaking you could do almost everything the Fire TV Cube does with an Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, but the hexacore processor-powered box moves faster and creates fewer frustrations. It’s a cliche to say it, but the Fire TV Cube is greater than the sum of its parts.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV Cube (2019)


What is a streaming device and how does it work?

Essentially, a streaming device (or streaming stick) allows you to stream (i.e. play) entertainment content – be it movies, TV shows, music, photos or sports – straight to your TV from a third-party provider, typically through a HDMI port.

Which apps you’ll gain access to of course depends on the streamer, and it’s also worth noting that support for a particular service doesn’t mean a subscription is thrown in by default – if you want to watch Netflix, for instance, you’ll still have to pay for it separately (though as mentioned above, some products come with deals on certain streaming services).

What is the point of a streaming stick if you have a smart TV?

While it’s true that many of today’s smart TVs come pre-installed with a wide variety of entertainment apps, external streaming devices will almost always improve the user interface of a given app.

Amazon’s Fire Stick, for instance, gives users access to more content with more control than the standard Amazon TV app, with other products in the Amazon line even coming equipped with Alexa – giving you the extra option of controlling your TV with your voice.

It’s also rare that a smart TV will come loaded with access to every streaming service out there. Apple TV Plus, for instance, seldom comes as a pre-installed app on standard smart TVs, hence the need for Apple’s 4K HDR streaming box, while Panasonic TVs don’t support Disney Plus.

What are the best streaming device apps?

As for the best TV streaming service, it depends on your region, though the main players like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus still sit at the top of the pile when it comes to their selection of movies and TV shows.

Still, burgeoning platforms like Apple TV Plus are improving month-by-month, with new series – like Ted Lasso and Mythic Quest – proving must-sees, while YouTube mustn’t be forgotten as an ever-excellent source of entertainment.

Today’s best streaming device deals

  • Fire TV vs Roku: which streaming stick range is better?
Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


The older Chinese consumers turning silver into e-commerce gold

Zhu Genghui is new to online shopping but she has taken to it like someone a third of her age. In between taking care of her grandchildren and square dancing ... Read more »

Tencent, Huawei, other major Shenzhen firms to bolster user data safeguards ahead of roll-out of new personal information law

More than 20 major Shenzhen-based companies, including video gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings and telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co, on Friday vowed to bolster user data safeguards ... Read more »

US approval of export permits to Huawei, SMIC suppliers shows challenges in decoupling from China

The US government’s decision to issue US$100 billion worth of export permits to suppliers of Huawei Technologies Co and China’s top chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) – both ... Read more »

ByteDance gaming studio lays off dozens of employees amid Beijing's gaming crackdown, sending a chill down industry

TikTok-owner ByteDance, which had been expanding into video gaming aggressively, is laying off dozens of employees at one of its gaming studios as Beijing’s crackdown on the industry clouds the ... Read more »

China's EV battery manufacturers race to develop new technologies that are less reliant on pricey metals

This second instalment of a three-part series on China’s electric car batteries looks at the technology behind the alternative power source. On the evening of January 9, William Li, chief ... Read more »

Milan Design Week showcased 2022's most fashionable furniture, with Supersalone featuring homeware from Bulgari, Dior, Fendi, Gucci and Hermès

When Milan Design Week got underway in early September, it was a scaled-down affair after a pandemic-induced 18-month delay. Included in the week’s festivities was Supersalone, a special edition of ... Read more »

Tencent fixes WeChat bug that exposed some social media content to Google, other external search engines

Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings says it has fixed a bug it found on super app WeChat that exposed some social media content to external search engines, such as Bing ... Read more »

China puts cryptocurrency mining on industrial blacklist in final step to eliminate the activity

China’s top economic planner is seeking to eliminate cryptocurrency mining activity in the country, months after a government crackdown that turned dozens of companies from model energy consumers into pariahs ... Read more »

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons lists Las Vegas Valley mansion for sale for £10 million five months after buying it

(ES Composite) Less than five months after buying his striking Las Vegas Valley mansion, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons has listed it for sale – for £2.9 million more than he ... Read more »

Rachel Riley says she was groped by 'Countdown' fan

Rachel Riley stars as the maths guru on ‘Countdown‘. (Channel 4) Rachel Riley has told how she was once groped by a Countdown fan in front of his wife, before ... Read more »

Parents who are occasionally abrupt with their children may be guilty of 'mild neglect', says NSPCC

Mother scolding son in living room – takasuu Parents who are occasionally abrupt with their children and hold low-key celebrations may be guilty of ‘mild neglect’, according to NSPCC guidance. ... Read more »

Boris Johnson: Nothing to suggest lockdown is on the cards

Boris Johnson has said that despite a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, a winter lockdown is unlikely at the moment. Read more »

'Strictly's' AJ and Kai rival Adam and Katya's 'almost kiss'

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington appeared to come close to kissing. (BBC) AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington have become the latest Strictly couple to “almost kiss” at the end of ... Read more »

Android devs, rejoice! Google will take less of your cash — here are the details

Google made a significant announcement for developers last night by reducing fees for recurring subscriptions to 15% or less for all apps. There are still tons of caveats and conditions ... Read more »

Conservatives say Twitter suppresses their voices. Twitter says it amplifies them

It’s tough being a conservative on Twitter. Everywhere you look, those damn liberals are censoring right-wingers for dropping truth bombs based on facts, not feelings. At least, that’s what I’ve ... Read more »

While everyone obsessed over the iPod, I stanned the Zune

The iPod turns 20 this year. That device changed tech as we know it, starting Apple‘s resurgence and eventual dominance of the tech industry. But while everyone reminisces about grinding ... Read more »

9 time-saving tricks for your command line

How do you write great code? By being efficient. If you want to create something awesome, you’ll have to eliminate the time dumps that slow you down. With just a ... Read more »

Think you've got what it takes to build your own mechanical wristwatch? Rotate makes it possible

TLDR: With a Rotate DIY Watchmaking Kit, tinkerers can put their skills to the ultimate test, assembling their own dynamic mechanically-driven watch. Maybe jigsaw puzzles and Sudoku aren’t quite doing ... Read more »

It's iPod's 20th birthday and people have a lot of feelings

As a tech journo, I love it when people share their experiences of tech with me. It’s so much more interesting than a review someone is being paid to write ... Read more »

Why Elon Musk may be ‘sleep-deprived' and in need of a break

Elon Musk has talked about stepping down from Tesla for a couple of years and his absence from the regularly scheduled conference call to discuss quarterly financial results this week ... Read more »

Government notifies rules to relax telecom infra rollout fees, documentation

The Department of Telecom has notified an amendment in rules to ease the rollout of communications networks by fixing a nominal one-time fee for overground cables at Rs 1,000 per ... Read more »

PUBG game ‘New State' gets a release date: Features, anti-cheat measures and more

During its hour-long PUBG: NEW STATE online showcase, Krafton Inc., creators of iconic battle royale game PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS, announced that PUBG: NEW STATE will officially launch on iOS and Android ... Read more »

Centre in HC defends IT rule requiring WhatsApp to trace originator of message

New Delhi, The Centre has defended in the Delhi High Court the legal validity of its new IT rule requiring messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, to “trace” the first originator ... Read more »

Twitter is now allowing all users to host Spaces

NEW DELHI: Twitter launched its Clubhouse rival — Spaces last year. Twitter Spaces allow users to have real-time audio conversations. It also offers reaction emojis, the ability to share tweets ... Read more »

Oppo may launch its first foldable phone in November 2021: Reports

Oppo is working on its first foldable phone and it is expected to launch it in November 2021, reports GSMArena. Some of the key specs have been revealed in the ... Read more »

Google to pull YouTube from some Roku devices

Google-owned YouTube said its app will no longer be available on streaming content provider Roku devices after December 9 as the two sides remain engaged in an ongoing carriage dispute.In ... Read more »

SPAC linked to Trump's social media venture surges for second day

Shares of the blank-check acquisition company that plans to publicly list former U.S. President Donald Trump‘s new social media venture soared again on Friday, more than doubling in value with ... Read more »

'PUBG: New State' to launch globally on November 11

South Korean game developer Krafton on Friday announced that its upcoming game ‘PUBG: New State’ will officially launch on iOS and Android in more than 200 countries on November 11.Developed ... Read more »

WhatsApp debuts in-app stickers for payments

WhatsApp has collaborated with five Indian women artists and illustrators to launch a new pack of payment stickers for its users in india. It said these illustrations are built on ... Read more »

Apple loses legal battle against Huawei 'MatePod' trademark

Tech giant Apple has lost a legal battle to block Chinese conglomerate Huawei‘s use of the “MatePod” name as its earbuds device.According to a report in the South China Morning ... Read more »

Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite NE 5G selling for less in Mi Diwali sale

It’s that time of the year when smartphones can be bought at discounted prices. Xiaomi — even though hasn’t reduced the price — is selling one of its latest smartphones ... Read more »

WhatsApp to stop working on these smartphones, check if yours is on the list

NEW DELHI: Popular instant messaging app WhatsApp has announced that it will stop working on some smartphones from November 1. If you are using an old Android phone or an ... Read more »

Huawei announces ‘Watch GT 3' and ‘FreeBuds Lipstick' earbuds

Huawei made a slew of announcements recently, including the Nova 9 smartphone, Watch GT 3 smartwatch and a new pair of earbuds it has named the ‘FreeBuds Lipstick’. The Watch ... Read more »

Indian art comes to Samsung's Frame TV: All details

Samsung has introduced local Indian folk and tribal art to the art store of its lifestyle TV The Frame. This new collection, which part of a growing library of over ... Read more »

How Apple's new App Store rules give more options to developers

Apple has officially changed its rules to allow app developers to highlight alternative purchasing options outside apps, and also to communicate more directly with customers. This upgrade was done two ... Read more »

Snap Inc blames iOS privacy changes for lower ad revenue

Snap Inc failed to meet revenue projections for third quarter. Snapchat has attributed a failure to meet revenue projections for the third quarter to Apple’s drastic iOS privacy changes. In ... Read more »

PUBG: Krafton to launch New State globally on November 11

The game will come out for both Android and iOS The final technical test for Krafton’s new PUBG game, New State will conclude next week in 28 countries. The company ... Read more »

Jio Platforms' consolidated net profit jumps 23.5% to Rs 3,728 crore

Jio Platforms on Friday posted a 23.48 per cent jump in consolidated net profit to Rs 3,728 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, the company’s parent firm Reliance ... Read more »

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic Review: A game-changing Android smartwatch that does not compromise on form or functionality

Earlier in 2021, Samsung announced its collaboration with Google to work on a new and intuitive operating system for the Galaxy Watch. And the Galaxy 4 series were the first ... Read more »

Redmi Note 11 series will not ditch this popular feature

The Redmi Note 11 series will come with the 3.5mm audio jack which many of the current mid-range phone models do not come with. Xiaomi CEO himself confirmed this with ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic