One of these will really tie the 4K room together.
After producing detailed evaluations of all the popular streaming boxes on the market, we have determined the best streaming box is the Nvidia TV Shield. It’s more expensive than most of the others, but it’s worth it. It has support for all the major streaming platforms (except iTunes ), and even lets Nvidia GPU owners seamlessly stream games to their TV. Plus, with the brewing streaming war between Amazon, Google, and Apple, the Shield is a safe pick, as it remains an agnostic platform to stream whatever you want, with a much better interface than the similarly platform-neutral Roku Ultra.
Granted, picking one “best” streaming device is a tough call since the world of streaming boxes is a tricky one to navigate. It really depends on your specific needs and use case There are competing ecosystems and services, varying video standards, a wide range of hardware, and various ways in which people consume TV and movies. Additionally, all of the streaming boxes we’ve tested are good at doing certain things, and there’s only a small amount of overlap between them. For example if your media is all on iTunes, you probably wouldn’t buy a Roku.
Still, we’ve rounded up five of the top models and tested all of them vigorously. It was hard work watching all those movies and TV shows, but we like to go the extra mile for you. Let’s get into it:
The Best Streaming Box: Nvidia Shield TV
Nvidia’s Shield TV is expensive for a streaming box at $169, but it’s easily the best Android TV box on the market, and it’s also the best streaming box in general due to its power, expansive platform support, and awesome features. It supports a ton of content including all of the Google’s channels, and it even doubles as a Chromecast so you can stream to your TV from your phone or tablet. In addition to YouTube it also supports Amazon Video, Netflix, Vudu, Kodi, Spotify, and more. Plus, If you’ve got an Nvidia GPU you can also stream games to your TV at 60fps, and also play Android games too. The Google Assistant is half-baked, but otherwise this is a very powerful and flexible platform, especially for PC gamers. If you’re not a PC Gamer, or and are highly price conscious, consider some of the options below.
The Best For Streaming from your Phone: Chromecast Ultra
If you’re the type of person who just wants to sit on your couch, phone in hand, and cast movies and TV shows to your big screen, the Chromecast Ultra is your best option. There’s no remote, no TV interface, and no hoops to jump through. Just pull up some content on your phone, and cast it to your TV. Thew new Ultra version adds support for 4k content and HDR, so if you have a 4K TV it’s the one to get. You can connect to your network over Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and all you need is the Google Home app to get started. You can stream from networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and HBO, to streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube. You’ll be able to beam straight from their apps to the Chromecast Ultra whether you have an iPhone or Android phone. A lot of music services support it too, including Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and Google Play Music. The only major exceptions are Apple Music, and all of Amazon’s Prime Video.
The Best for Apple Households: Apple TV 4K
This is the most obvious pick of the bunch, because clearly if you’re all-in with the iPhone, iPad, Macbook, and iTunes you’re going to want the Apple TV. The newest version supports 4k content and both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats. It also supports Dolby Digital surround sound up to 7.1, but not the latest Dolby Atmos standard. You can enjoy content from iTunes and apps like Netflix and Hulu, and its Siri remote makes finding things to watch relatively easy despite its controversial design.
The Best Choice for 4K TV Shows: Amazon Fire TV
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Amazon’s newest Fire TV, as it’s a completely respectable option, and at just $69 it’s a great value. The only issue is it doesn’t support iTunes or Vudu, which have large repositories of 4k movies. But you can access Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and lots more, and its Alexa-powered remote works very well for a wide range of tasks. Overall it’s better suited specifically to 4K TV shows since it doesn’t hook into iTunes or Vudu, but if that’s your jam, look no further.
Another Decent Option: Roku Ultra
The newest Roku box/remote combo is a sweet deal because it has support for 4k HDR content, lets you access most of the major content providers, and only costs around $75. This means it’s affordable and flexible, which is what really counts for most people. With this little box you can access Netflix, Amazon Video, Vudu, Hulu, Sling, HBO Now, and PBS kids, so the only major exception is iTunes. Its interface looks and feels very outdated though, and it’s remote can be a hassle, but it is still effective and easy to use. Also, one big plus is that it doesn’t have any bias to its search results, unlike the Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV.