With so many great media streamers available in the market, you don’t need to go to the expense of a smart TV to access services such as Netflix. The content available through each streamer is the most important factor for most people. This is why it’s very important to check that the services you want are available. It doesn’t happen often that one device offers all the services you require. But Roku has the biggest range going with hundreds of apps to choose between. We have rounded up the top 5 media-streaming devices you can buy this year.
1. Google Chromecast Ultra:
After announcing its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones in October 2016, Google launched its new Chromecast Ultra. The Chromecast Ultra is quite similar in design to the standard version. But this one adopts Google’s new ‘G’ logo that’s also on the back of the Google Pixel. The Chromecast Ultra is only available in black but resembles a small hockey puck. Inside that, you see a wireless tech resides. The only other things in the box are the power cable and the power adaptor that also has a handy Ethernet port on it.
For iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, just download the free Google Home app and follow the on-screen instructions. If you have a 4K TV and a Netflix subscription, the Chromecast Ultra is worth the £69 asking price. The fact it is so easy to use and works best with the Google Home app means you can easily throw it in a bag and use it on different TVs wherever you are, as your phone or tablet carries your streaming subscriptions with you.
2. Nvidia Shield TV and GeForce Now:
The Nvidia Shield TV has a slightly different audience to other media streamers. The Shield is focused on gaming. It comes with features that allow you to stream your gaming collection from your PC to your TV. You can even stream games via GeForce Now.
The Shield is essentially an Android TV powered by Android 5.1 Lollipop. It also includes Google Cast for the casting of content from Android and iOS devices. Though the iOS support is limited. Generally, the UI is one of the slickest, most responsive you will see to date. It’s nice and simple, with everything you need at the touch of a button. There is access to Google’s Play Store. It has a selection of apps and games designed to be enjoyed on a TV. The Shield offers a number of exclusive apps and features including the Shield Games portal. It features Nvidia’s own Tegra X1 processor with a 256-core GPU, along with 3GB of RAM. It has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and an IR receiver for compatibility with universal remotes. Coming to storage, there are two options available; 16GB and 500GB.
3. HiMedia Q10 Pro:
HiMedia is a Chinese manufacturer of Android TV boxes. The Q10 Pro is one of its latest devices. The HiMedia Q10 Pro is a box that connects to your TV over HDMI. It allows the TV to operate as a giant Android tablet. You can install any apps you might install on a phone or tablet. The Q10 Pro has a black premium brushed aluminum casing. It comes with a glass panel at the front revealing an LCD display and a useful touch panel.
An IR sensor at the center pairs with a bundled remote that would appear to do it all. Out of the box, the HiMedia Q10 Pro runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. An update to Android N is promised. It comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, the Mali T720 GPU and a HiSilicon Hi3798C V200 quad-core processor inside. The Q10 Pro has a fantastic format support, expansive storage options, and good 4K image quality.
4. Amazon Fire TV 4K with Ultra HD:
The Fire TV is a rival to the Apple TV, and Chromecast. This second-generation version now supports 4K video. 4K support means you can hook up the Fire TV to your 4K TV. You can watch videos in Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) at up to 30fps. The Fire TV has an HEVC decoder. Amazon is making much of its 1080p content available in HEVC. Amazon has also changed the Wi-Fi and upgraded to dual-band 802.11ac. There’s now a microSD slot on the rear so you can add to the 8GB of internal storage.
The top is like the back of a Fire tablet or Kindle: matt black with a glossy Amazon logo. The front and sides are also glossy black and a small white LED lets you know the box has power. The Fire TV is powerful and well designed. The interface is slick and easy to use. Amazon is offering 4K content with Fire TV at no extra cost. This is a huge bonus. But many 4K TVs already have the Prime Instant Video app.
5. Apple TV (4th gen) 2015:
The new Apple TV overtakes the competition. On the new Apple TV, you can now browse an app store and install whichever apps and games you like. The new box looks a lot like the previous two models. The biggest design change is the new Siri Remote. It communicates via Bluetooth but can also use infrared. It should automatically learn to control your TV’s volume. But you can teach it if that fails. As long as your TV uses the HDMI-CEC standard, it should all work fine. The Siri part is possibly the best feature.
The fancy new interface runs on the new tvOS. You can rearrange icons as you like. You can even put your favorites in the top row. The top row was previously reserved for Apple’s apps and content. For some people, the new box is a great media streamer and games machine. But it also comes with a high price and limited selection of apps. If gaming is not your focus, you can just buy a 3rd-generation Apple TV or Roku for less than half the price. The 4th-gen Apple TV has potential but right now that potential is far from realized.
There are many different media streamers competing in this race. We have listed the top 5 media streamers for you. Each media streamer is different in its own way. You can choose the one that fits your requirement perfectly.