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4 Reasons to Buy a Streaming Device Today

Roku on tv streaming with remote

4 Reasons to Buy a Streaming Device Today

With so many streaming services available today, you will need to buy a streaming device to watch them on. This is where streaming devices come in, as they let you watch a wide range of TV shows and movies on any TV. All of the shows get wirelessly streamed directly from the internet and to your TV, so there is no need for storing content or running wires.

Even if you already have cable TV, streaming services oftentimes complement it. There are even streaming apps that let you sign in with a cable or satellite provider to access content for free. Not to mention, the abundance of free apps makes streaming a great choice for everyone. However, before you start watching, you need a device to watch them on.

Some Background on Streaming Devices

Streaming devices have been popular for well over ten years now. But it is difficult to pinpoint when and what the first device was. Today Roku and Fire TV dominate the streaming device market, but one of the first mainstream devices was the Apple TV back in 2007. Roku released its first device the following year, which only worked with Netflix.

Keep in mind that Netflix launched its streaming service in 2007, so there was little to watch on a streaming device. Fast forward fifteen years later, and there are literally hundreds of streaming services. Of course, streaming technology improved dramatically through the 2010s, which meant better video quality and widespread adoption.

Best Premium Pick
Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation)
$146.96
  • 4K Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound and HDR10+ support
  • Equipped with the powerful A15 Bionic chip
  • Third-generation Siri Remote with improved clickpad
  • Wi-Fi and Ethernet options available
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 05:46 am GMT

Reasons to Buy a Streaming Device

These are the four best reasons why you should buy a streaming device.

Save Money on Cable

Cable was never cheap, but it always seems to get more expensive with annual rate hikes and surprise charges. But possibly the biggest problem with cable companies is their horrific customer service. On top of that, there is little oversight and regulation in the cable TV business like other utility providers face. Then there is satellite TV, which has its own set of problems, such as lost signals.

The benefit of streaming devices is that you can choose as many or as few services as you want. Many of the available services cost less than $10 per month, which presents a large savings over cable. There are even free streaming services that you can watch with no monthly fee. Best of all, there are no contracts or ongoing costs when you purchase a streaming device.

Easily Watch Favorite Shows

Besides saving money, another great reason to purchase a streaming device is that they let you watch your favorite shows. Streaming devices provide access to a large number of apps that offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies. Unlike cable and satellite, most streaming services do not have commercials, or they have very few of them.

But more important than commercials, streaming devices provide access to TV shows and movies that rarely come on cable channels. This means you can also watch a show from beginning to end at your own pace rather than trying to keep up with a TV schedule. Many streaming services also offer exclusive content to subscribers.

Make Any TV a Smart TV

It’s crazy to think how fast streaming devices became popular. But even more surprising is how quickly TV manufacturers wanted to tout that their devices had “smart” functionality. Unfortunately, many TV manufacturers did not support their built-in streaming capabilities for very long. This left good, working TVs with a useless streaming platform.

This is where streaming devices really come in handy. You can take an old smart TV that no longer functions properly and stream on it again. Of course, you can always connect a streaming device to a non-smart TV so it can stream as well. Taking an old TV and adding modern functionality to it is a great way to recycle and keep an aging device out of a landfill.

Streaming Devices are Affordable

As previously mentioned, streaming is often a cheaper way to watch TV than cable. But part of the reason for that is the cost of streaming devices. Long ago, cable providers charged a significant amount of money for their hardware. Even streaming devices in their early days were not cheap, especially considering the minimal amount of content compared to today.

Fortunately, streaming devices are very affordable, with the Fire TV Stick costing less than $50. Of course, there are some high-end options that let you do more, like play video games or watch in 4K. But because these devices are so affordable, it makes them easy to upgrade without worrying about wasting the initial investment. Even better is that they require little setup to start using.

Roku

Affordable Streaming Device
Roku Express (New, 2022) HD Streaming Device
$24.00
  • Roku Simple Remote included, no TV controls
  • 1080p resolution
  • Stream over 300 live TV channels plus Roku Originals
  • No adapters needed
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 06:04 am GMT

Roku may not be the first streaming device manufacturer, but they were certainly the first to gain widespread appeal. From the first Roku model that could only stream Netflix to the ones sold in stores today, the company remains at the forefront of streaming. Therefore, you really can’t go wrong with a Roku streaming device.

However, Roku offers a number of different options depending on your needs and budget. Roku’s cheapest option is the Express. This affordable option is limited to 1080p, so it is best paired with non-4K TVs. The next model up is the Express 4K+, which adds 4K and HDR capabilities for higher-end TVs. It also includes a voice remote for easy searching.

Excellent Value
Roku Express 4K+
$29.00
  • Stream content in 4K with HDR to any TV in your home
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi ensures a steady connection
  • Access to more than 20,000 downloadable apps
  • Voice remote control
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 12:39 pm GMT

From there, Roku offers the Streaming Stick 4K, Streaming Stick 4K+, and Roku Ultra, which all feature Dolby Vision capabilities and long-range Wi-Fi. The Streaming Stick 4K+ and Roku Ultra also have rechargeable remotes. Best of all, every Roku device has access to the same content libraries, so the cheapest model can watch the same shows as the most expensive.

Roku Ultra
$79.00
  • Roku's fastest and most powerful player ever
  • Excellent Wi-Fi support with up to 50% more range
  • Streaming quality available in 4K, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+
  • Built-in support for Dolby Atmos sound
  • Hands-free voice controls with "Hey Roku"
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 12:49 pm GMT

Fire TV

Best Value
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
$24.99
  • Streaming in Full HD
  • Stream over a million TV shows and movies on Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and more
  • Includes Alexa Voice Remote
  • Supports Dolby Atmos on some titles
  • Listen to music on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora (may require subscription)
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 12:49 pm GMT

Another major competitor in the streaming device market is Amazon’s Fire TV. It offers a simple interface, which is arguably easier to browse with than many competitors. Instead of the home screen just showing apps or channels, it displays tons of content directly. Once you choose a show to watch, Fire TV directs you to the proper app to stream it from.

A popular Fire TV choice is the Fire TV Stick. It is an affordable option that lets you watch a wide range of products. To lessen some confusion, Amazon offers a number of Fire TV Sticks with different options, such as 4K and TV controls on the remote. The Fire TV Cube is one of the most expensive options, but it has a built-in speaker and supports gameplay.

Best for Amazon
All New Fire TV Cube Hands-Free Streaming Device with Alexa
$114.99
  • Twice as powerful as Fire TV Stick 4K Max
  • Control your devices with hands-free Alexa
  • Seamlessly switch between your compatible devices
  • Supports Wi-Fi 6E
  • 4K with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, and Dolby Atmos
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 08:49 am GMT

Chromecast

Low Cost Streaming
Chromecast with Google TV (HD) Streaming Stick
$29.77
  • Streaming in 1080p HDR
  • Compatible with almost any TV with an HDMI port
  • Access to over 700,000 movies and TV shows
  • Easy to install, just plug it into your TV's HDMI port
  • Google Assistant button on remote
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 05:45 am GMT

Google’s Chromecast went through a number of revisions and changes over the years. The latest version finally adds a remote and fixes some major problems from its predecessors. Chromecast formerly relied on casting content from a device like a phone. The latest version fixes that by adding an operating system and the ability to choose and stream content directly from the device.

However, Chromecast’s original selling point of offering streaming for a low price still remains true. Google currently has two versions available, including HD and 4K versions. Previous iterations also supported Google’s Stadia gaming platform. One standout feature of the Chromecast is that you can connect a USB hub to it for extra connectivity to devices like webcams and storage drives.

Best for Google TV
Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K
$39.98
  • Streaming in up to 4K HDR quality
  • Dedicated Google Assistant button on the included remote
  • Stream over 700,000 TV shows and films
  • Supports Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Google TV, and YouTube
  • Compatible with most TVs with an HDMI port
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 03:44 am GMT

How to Pick the Best Streaming Device: Step-By-Step

Although there are plenty of options when it comes to streaming services, it is pretty easy to find the right fit for you. Just follow the four steps below to pick the best one.

  1. Set a budget
  2. Determine needed features
  3. Ensure it has desired streaming services
  4. Find the best price

The first thing you need to do is set a budget. Streaming devices start out under $50 but can go well over $100. Determine a rough estimate you’d be willing to spend and then decide what features are a must. For instance, some people want a voice-controlled remote, while others feel it is unnecessary. You do need to make sure your TV has an available HDMI port and that there is a good internet signal near the TV.

From there you can start shopping around. If you have a weak internet signal, then go with a device that offers long-range Wi-Fi. Similarly, there are wired options, as well as devices that still use RCA connectors. Once you settle on a brand and model, you can start shopping for the best price. While each device has an MSRP, streaming devices are sold at large discounts.

Alternatives to Streaming Devices

If you’re still not sure whether you want to buy a streaming device, there are alternatives you can use in the meantime. Streaming devices are usually considered set-top boxes that serve the specific function of watching streaming services. However, there are a lot more devices on the market that can stream TV shows and movies. Best of all, you probably have at least one lying around your house. For instance, newer Blu-ray players often have smart features built-in.

Similarly, video game consoles are often overlooked as streaming devices. However, in the early days of Netflix, it was very common for gamers to use their Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or even Nintendo Wii to watch. While we are a few generations later, you can now watch more streaming services than ever on game consoles. Some of them even support 4K streaming.

Another option that is a little harder to overlook is using a TV that has smart capabilities. Nearly all the TVs sold today have some sort of streaming options built-in. The downside is that some manufacturers use proprietary operating systems with limited app support. However, other TV manufacturers use popular streaming device operating systems like Roku or Fire TV.

Finally, computers and tablets work great as streaming devices. While it can be annoying to tie up a computer just to watch TV, it is likely the easiest solution. On the other hand, tablets have pretty small screens, which isn’t ideal. However, you can always hook up your computer and select tablets to a TV in order to stream from them in a pinch.

  1. Apple TV 4K (3rd Generation)
    $146.96
    • 4K Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound and HDR10+ support
    • Equipped with the powerful A15 Bionic chip
    • Third-generation Siri Remote with improved clickpad
    • Wi-Fi and Ethernet options available
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 05:46 am GMT
  2. Roku Express (New, 2022) HD Streaming Device
    $24.00
    • Roku Simple Remote included, no TV controls
    • 1080p resolution
    • Stream over 300 live TV channels plus Roku Originals
    • No adapters needed
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 06:04 am GMT
  3. Roku Express 4K+
    $29.00
    • Stream content in 4K with HDR to any TV in your home
    • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi ensures a steady connection
    • Access to more than 20,000 downloadable apps
    • Voice remote control
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 12:39 pm GMT
  4. Roku Ultra
    $79.00
    • Roku's fastest and most powerful player ever
    • Excellent Wi-Fi support with up to 50% more range
    • Streaming quality available in 4K, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+
    • Built-in support for Dolby Atmos sound
    • Hands-free voice controls with "Hey Roku"
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 12:49 pm GMT
  5. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
    $24.99
    • Streaming in Full HD
    • Stream over a million TV shows and movies on Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and more
    • Includes Alexa Voice Remote
    • Supports Dolby Atmos on some titles
    • Listen to music on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora (may require subscription)
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 12:49 pm GMT
  6. All New Fire TV Cube Hands-Free Streaming Device with Alexa
    $114.99
    • Twice as powerful as Fire TV Stick 4K Max
    • Control your devices with hands-free Alexa
    • Seamlessly switch between your compatible devices
    • Supports Wi-Fi 6E
    • 4K with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, and Dolby Atmos
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 08:49 am GMT
  7. Chromecast with Google TV (HD) Streaming Stick
    $29.77
    • Streaming in 1080p HDR
    • Compatible with almost any TV with an HDMI port
    • Access to over 700,000 movies and TV shows
    • Easy to install, just plug it into your TV's HDMI port
    • Google Assistant button on remote
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 05:45 am GMT
  8. Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K
    $39.98
    • Streaming in up to 4K HDR quality
    • Dedicated Google Assistant button on the included remote
    • Stream over 700,000 TV shows and films
    • Supports Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Google TV, and YouTube
    • Compatible with most TVs with an HDMI port
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 03:44 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Do streaming devices work with old TVs?

Yes, as long as the TV has an HDMI port, you can use a streaming device. If it doesn’t have HDMI, then you need to find a streaming device that still supports RCA connections.

Is one device platform better than another?

No, the difference between streaming device platforms like Roku and Fire TV really comes down to personal preference. None of them are bad, but you will likely find one easier to use than another.

Do you have to pay for service with a streaming device?

Streaming devices themselves do not charge a fee. However, individual streaming services like Hulu and Netflix do charge for subscriptions. There are also many free services to watch as well.

Can you stream 4K content on a streaming device?

Yes, some content is available in 4K, including select shows on Amazon Video, Disney Plus, and HBO Max, to name a few. But you will need a streaming device and a TV that both support 4k.

Who sells streaming devices?

You can purchase a streaming device at most major retailers, such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Each store has a different selection, so try to pick a device and see who sells it. Alternatively, you can find streaming devices online at sites like Amazon.

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