This article breaks down the Best Streaming Media Players & Devices For TVs in 2022 (Apple, Google, Amazon). The thing is, there are so many choices in 2022 that it can be overwhelming to pick something out.
Quick Media Streaming Device Break Down Top Picks
- Roku Ultra – Most platform agnostic, Lost Remote Finder, and Private Listening
- Roku Express 4K+ 2022 – One of the cheapest 4K players
- Apple TV 4K 32GB2nd Gen, Latest Model – Best for Apple fans
- Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device with Alexa Voice Remote – Best for Amazon fans
- Chromecast with Google TV 4K – Best for Google fans
- NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4KHDR Streaming Media Player (More than streaming)
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device – Great for all things Amazon
- TiVo Stream 4K – Great integration for live TV
How to pick the right streaming media device for you?
One of the top things that might make the decision a little easier is which tech ecosystem you belong to already. Are you all about Google services? Maybe you are a big fan of Apple and only buy their devices. Already have Amazon Prime? Maybe an Amazon device is right for you. If you are all-in on one of these tech ecosystems then your choice just got a lot easier…. maybe.
Chances are if you bought a TV in the last couple of years you might not need most of these streaming devices since the majority of TVs now have most (not all) of this function built in. If you are upgrading a “dumb” TV or maybe one that doesn’t have all the functionality that you want, we can help with that too.
Why are there so many streaming media devices and players?
The reason is all of these devices have multiple generations and you don’t want to buy an old model that is still being sold in stores like Best Buy, Walmart, or Amazon. Some of these older models don’t have the latest features and that’s really important in some cases. Many of the tech blogs out there with their picks for best media players have links going to players that are years old. Because even a couple of years in tech is going to be considered old. Companies like Amazon release new media streaming devices every year and they have so many that it becomes a headache just to try and narrow it down to the newest with the best features to fit your situation.
Why can’t I get all the content on one streaming media player?
Unfortunately, the day of owning only one streaming media player is over if you want all the content out there. The truth is these companies are spending hundreds of millions and in some cases even billions of dollars on making content. With so much money being spent, they feel the need to lock it down to their device for streaming that content. You probably already own a TV (maybe a Roku TV, Samsung Smart TV, or Amazon Fire TV) that can stream most things but you still can’t get everything. The amount of content providers has exploded over the last couple of years. We already had Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video for a long time that can be streamed on almost every device but now we have Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock, Discovery+, Epix Now, Showtime, Starz, and that’s just to name the big names.
The Best Media Streaming Devices on the Market – 2022
TIP: With Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2022 comes big discounts on most Media Streaming Devices. This will be the best time of the year to save some money on a Media Streaming Device.
1. Roku Ultra Streaming Media Player: Most platform agnostic, Lost Remote Finder, and Private Listening
The Roku Ultra 2022 model has the most platform support of any media player. This means it gives you the most flexibility and options for streaming from your favorite service. Roku also has its own ad-supported streaming shows and movies.
This new Roku Ultra is a significant boost from the previous generation, offering improved image quality and better app support and functionality. Now supporting 4K playback, with HDR support for the crispest image you’ve seen. It is one of the few media devices on our list that can truly replace your DVR and cable subscription – welcome to the world of streaming.
Also, with the powerful voice-enabled remote controller, you can easily program the customizable buttons for quick access to your favorite services. That’s in addition to the stock one-touch buttons that improve your entertainment experience.
This also has a nice feature most streamers don’t. Like if you watch the next episode but maybe you don’t want to wake someone up. Thanks to the integrated 3.5mm headset jack in the remote (and included premium earphones) you can watch the show without anyone else knowing.
Will Roku Ultra work with Siri, Alexa, or Hey Google? Yes, it works with all three.
- Roku Voice Remote Pro
- Hands-Free Voice Controls
- Lost Remote Finder
- Private Listening
- Built-in Ethernet port for wired streaming
- Dolby Atmos
- Platform agnostic – more streaming services means more choices
- The price is really the only con, spending $100 on a stream media player feels like a lot of money when you can buy a great one at just $30.
2. Roku Express 4K+: One of the cheapest 4k players
The list price for this is $39 but you can often find it on sale for under $30. That makes this the best and cheapest 4k player that is actually able to deliver a great experience. Just like its big brother, the Roku Ultra, it delivers with the choice of having any streaming service you want.
This super powerful media streaming stick gives you that amazing Roku-powered experience, within a compact and sleek design. Just plug the Stick+ into a spare HDMI port on the back of your TV, connect to your home network and you’ll be watching the hottest shows in literally no time.
Furthermore, the included USB cable boosts the wireless range for the voice-enabled remote controller and helps reduce the size of the Streaming Stick+ itself. Plus, if your TV doesn’t come with USB outlets, they give you a normal power adapter and USB extension cable to ensure you can keep your Roku powered up no matter what.
If you’re one to travel and watch on the go, the super compact design of the Roku Streaming Stick+ means you can just plug it into any TV – especially if you’re in an Airbnb!
- Super compact – no cables to deal with
- Super easy set-up
- Can mirror your mobile on the TV
- Platform agnostic – more streaming services means more choices
- The only real negative we have seen from some users say that it gets warmer than they would like.
3. Apple TV 4K (2nd Gen, Latest Model) – Best for those in the Apple Ecosystem
If you love Apple products, this is really the best option for you. It’s going to work better and be a more smooth experience watching Apple TV on this Apple streaming device. This Apple TV 4K plays in incredible detail and picture quality, similar to what you would expect from only a 4K television. The device also streams from iTunes and apps like the aforementioned Netflix, Hulu, and ESPN. In addition, it comes with a Siri Remote to help you find what you need, making it easy as ever to flip through media and apps — Apple lovers believe this to be the best TV streaming device on the market.
If you’re reading this on an iPhone or MacBook, wearing an Apple Watch, or have AirPods in your ears, this is a perfect media companion.
Additionally, another major benefit of many of Apple’s products is that it works seamlessly across Apple’s ecosystems. Setup is completed with a single button on your iPhone, and it even becomes your smart home hub, so you can remotely control your home.
- 4K HDR content playback – amazing for movie night
- Included Ethernet connection for stable streaming – Wi-Fi included
- Beautiful, sleek design (meaning you won’t need to hide this device within your entertainment center)
- Connect an Xbox or PlayStation controller for enhanced gaming
- Can add multiple users – great for Apple Music and Apple TV+ content
- Costly – spending $179 is a lot of money when most of the streaming media players are a lot cheaper.
- Geared heavily towards existing Apple users and Apple streaming services.
- You’re going to miss out on other streaming services unless you buy a second streaming device.
4. Fire TV Stick 4K with Voice Remote – Best for Amazon fans
If you already got Amazon Prime then it might make sense for you to get a Fire TV Stick to stream the Amazon service on any TV you want. This device has currently over 145,000 reviews on Amazon with an avg rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. With thousands of happy users, it’s easy to see why this might be a good choice for you. This has a list price of $49 but Amazon puts this on sale often and you can get one for as low as $40 often. This streaming media player has hit the $29.99 price point a few times if you wanted it for cheaper.
The Fire TV Stick 4K offers exceptional audio and video playback, all in stunning 4K HDR. All that tech is squeezed into something the size of a large thumb drive (remember those), meaning it can slot in, behind your TV, with no visible cables to ruin your sleek setup.
While there’s no Ethernet connection (sold separately – Amazon Ethernet Adapter), the built-in high-speed wireless connection via MIMO Wi-Fi means you’ll be enjoying buffer-free streaming all day long. Add this with the simple HDMI plug-and-play support means you can simply add it to extra TVs around the house that you don’t use all of the time – like the bedroom or office.
The Fire TV Stick 4K media streaming device provides you with an upgraded TV experience, within a smaller form factor, and at a better price. If you can forego the power and Alexa abilities of the Fire TV Cube, then it’s a no-brainer. You’ll still get all your favorite shows and sports channels, and even have Alexa accessible via the microphone-enabled remote.
- 4K resolution with HDR
- Amazon Alexa integration – from the remote control
- Access to the latest streaming services including Disney+
- Can be charged from a USB slot on your TV
- Doesn’t have WiFi 6 support.
5. Chromecast with Google TV 4K: Best for Google Home users
The Chromecast with Google TV 4K streaming media player device is great if you are already deep in the Google ecosystem. Maybe you got a Pixel smartphone, Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation) Smart Speaker, Google Wifi Mesh Router, and a ton of other compatible Google Home smart items. If this is you, the Chromecast 4k might be the right choice for you.
An extra you might also consider is Google still throws in a Free YouTube Premium for 3 months (new subscribers only). YouTube Premium costs $11.99 per month, so your basically getting $36 back off the cost of buying the Chromecast 4k. This might help you make the decision to buy it a little easier.
One of the best features of Chromecast is that it works seamlessly with Google Smart Assistant. If you’ve got a Nest Home, you can just ask Google to play your shows on the TV, without even touching your phone or remote controller.
- 4K HDR content for high-quality videos and media
- Mirror your android device directly on your TV
- Cast any Google content with ease
- Works with Google Assistant – great if you have Google’s Nest Home products
- Easy to setup
- The biggest complaint we’ve seen is that the interface is “workable”, meaning that it just doesn’t offer as smooth an experience as saying the Roku player. That being said, this is something that’s sure to keep getting updates until they get it right.
6. NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K: Best for Games
NVIDIA is known for its graphics hardware for computers, but they have also ventured into the world of home streaming media devices – and the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K is in a league of its own. The only true streaming device aimed at gamers. If you want to play games, this is the media streaming device you want. They have hundreds and hundreds of supported titles. Also, great features like cloud save and cross-play on laptops and desktops, so that you can pick up wherever you left off.
The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K gives you tons of flexibility with what you want to do with it that the other media players can’t match.
You have a Plex Media Server built-in, 2x USB 3.0 ports for storage expansion, USB cameras, keyboards, and controllers. This has all kinds of connectivity including Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band AC Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. If you want apps, no problems there, you will access thousands of apps and games. Built-in Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa AI makes it a snap to give it voice commands.
This streaming device from NVIDIA is made for an exceptional home TV experience but is also one of the most costly. Coming in at $200, this price is a major consideration you have to make. If you just want something to stream TV shows and movies, this isn’t the right choice for you. If on the other hand, you want to connect a controller and get to gaming, it’s basically a console that lets you do just that.
- Super fast, user-friendly remote
- Dedicated Netflix button for one-touch content access
- 4K AAA gaming experience
- Access to additional cross-platform streaming apps
- Plex Media Server built-in, 3 GB RAM, and 16 GB storage.
- Built-in Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa
- High price for a streaming device, but gives you superior gaming.
7. Newest Amazon Streaming Player: Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device, Wi-Fi 6, Alexa Voice Remote (includes TV controls)
This is the newest streaming player to come into the market from Amazon. This was released on October 7, 2021, and you can order now. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is a powerful device that does something a little more than the Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device mentioned above. Both devices work great and the main difference is that the Max has Wi-Fi 6 support and the Live View Picture-in-Picture feature. You might have to decide if the extra money over the non-Max version is worth the extra cost. If you don’t have a Wi-Fi 6 Router, we would suggest saving money and going with the non-Max version found above. The reviews on this device are overwhelmingly positive on Amazon and other sites. Additionally, just like the new non-Max version, these streaming devices are compatible with Apple’s app according to Apple TV App–Supported Devices.
- Amazon says its 40% more powerful than Fire TV Stick 4K
- Works with next-gen Wi-Fi 6 routers for the fastest speeds
- Amazon Alexa Voice Remote
- Dolby Atmos is available on select platforms
- Live View Picture-in-Picture feature
- This new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is coming in right at $55. This makes it the most pricy streaming stick they have.
8. Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
Roku Streaming Stick 4K | Streaming Device 4K/HDR/Dolby Vision with Roku Voice Remote and TV Controls is certainly one of the cheapest ways to get the convenience of the stick and get 4k at the same time. This retails for $50 but we have already seen this come down as low as $25. Keep your eyes open for a sale.
Will this new Roku Streaming Stick 4k+ beat the Roku Streaming Stick 4k? What are the differences?
The new Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ has the following improvements:
- Personalized Short Buttons
- Rechargeable Remote
- Lost remote finder
9. TiVo Stream 4K
The TiVo Stream 4K offers a ton of apps that can be installed and it comes at a very affordable price. The Tivo Stream 4K is a solid streaming device that merits it among the best. This supports Netflix, Disney +, Sling, Prime Video, HBO Max, Peacock, and thousands more on the Google Play store.
This has a great rating on Amazon with 4.3 out of 5 stars with a little over 6,000 reviews as of this writing.
- Very affordable 4k goodness
- Tons of streaming app support
- Great integration with live TV with Sling
- A more difficult to set up
- Somewhat clucky interface
~Honorable Mentions for Streaming Media Players~
There are several other streaming media player devices that might meet your needs that we will mention here.
- Fire TV Stick Lite HD with Alexa Voice Remote Lite – no TV controls
(This does play 4K like the one we mentioned above but it is cheaper at just $30)
- Fire TV Cube 4K (Newest version)
(At this point, this is an older product that cost $120 but it might still be the right item for your setup if you are in the Amazon ecosystem)
- Roku Express | HD Streaming Media Player
(It’s hard to make the case for this when its brother is just a few dollars higher and can do 4k. If you are not worried about 4K and just the price, it doesn’t get much cheaper than this. The Roku Express comes in at just $30, on sale its often $25)
- Roku Streambar 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player
(This product is an all-in-one product that fits a certain niche but it’s not going to be for everyone. If you already have a soundbar or good speakers this is going to be a pass for you. If you need the sound features, it is certainly worth checking it out. This item cost $129 list but can often be found for right under $100)
- Google Chromecast 3rd Generation
(If you are in the Google ecosystem and don’t care about 4k, you can save a little going with this device. It cost around $30)
- Microsoft Xbox Series S 512 GB All-Digital Console – Disc-free Gaming
(If you’re looking to buy a gaming console, you might as well use it for streaming media as well. At $300, this is a decent buy to do just that)
- Sony PlayStation 5 Digital Edition Console – Disc-free Gaming
(If your buying a console for streaming media but don’t want an Xbox, this would be your next best option. It comes in at $400… if you can find it at all)
- Amazon Fire TV Recast – over-the-air DVR with 2 tuners, 500 GB, 75 hours
(If you’re looking to get into over-the-air DVR, this is probably among one of the best options. It comes in at about $230)
— Streaming Media Device Buyers’ Guide & FAQs —
The most important factor when considering all of your streaming device options is compatibility. Take the Apple TV 4K for example, it’s geared so heavily towards Apple users (iPhones and Macs) that if you have an Android phone, this is not really the product for you. Similarly, the Chromecast Ultra is ideal if you have a Google Nest home product, not great if you don’t.
Additionally, you will also want to ensure that your streaming service is available on the media device you want. The top services (Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc) are all available across the board, but some niche services like FandangoNow aren’t – so be sure to check before you buy.
Finally, the last consideration is whether you need a media streaming hub or a stick. They differ primarily on speed and connection options. Large ‘hub’ streaming devices will give you faster processors, and more connections (like Ethernet), whereas sticks tend to be cheaper with a similar experience, but with fewer features. I have found that a good rule of thumb is: Will this streaming device be my primary entertainment device? If yes: go for the hub; If no: go for a stick.
Question: What’s the difference between 4K and HDR?
Answer: It’s about resolution and quality. 4K deals with the number of pixels you see – and with this the higher the number, the better the resolution of your content. You’ve probably seen it with Netflix that some titles are offered only in HD, and others in Super HD 4K. Opting for the latter is always better (but requires a faster internet connection).
HDR, on the other hand, deals with how good that resolution looks. It improves the contrast of the video, meaning deeper blacks and crisper images. Also, by using some smart technology, it stitches together three different images up to 60 times a second, giving you a superior viewing experience.
Question: Can the remote control also change my volume?
Answer: It’s an important question, as many systems require multiple controllers: one to turn on the TV, one to use the TV streaming device, and another to change the TV volume. It’s not really the sleek setup you were promised, right? Thankfully, many streaming devices will allow you to control the TV’s volume, even without any special setup process. For example, I have an Apple TV 4K and SONOS soundbar connected to my Sony TV – everything works fine except for no volume indicator. In any case, be sure to check the specifications before purchasing to ensure the device will work with your own TV setup.
Question: How much internal memory do I need?
Answer: The beauty of streaming services is that they require very little memory space on the actual streaming box. You no longer have to download content, you can get away with a very small storage space on your device. The only exception is with your own content and applications, so if you plan to download all the apps on Earth, perhaps consider boosting your internal memory (either with a memory card or at the time of purchase).
Question: What if I can’t get certain content to stream because it’s region-locked?
Answer: Your best solution is to get a good VPN service. A highly-rated VPN like Surfshark VPN can help you get around regional restrictions. Not only that, but it also keeps your location private and your sensitive data secure.
Question: What is a Streaming Media Device?
Answer: It’s another case of the ‘does what it says on the tin’ situation. It allows you to play your favorite content (media) on your TV – whether that’s your own videos or your guilty Netflix binge shows. They’re also a great way to play music from your home TV surround sound – great for parties.
Question: Why do You Need a Streaming Media Device
Answer: While cable certainly still has its place, it’s very restrictive when compared to alternative means of consuming media. We now live in an ‘on-demand world where you get what you want when you want it. The cable is kind of the antithesis of on-demand streaming.
Stop and think for a moment: when is the last time that a friend asked you about a show on cable that they’d seen recently that wasn’t the news? If you’re like me, then it’s probably been a while! But all the current binges on Netflix and Amazon Prime are loved and talked about by everyone, and if you haven’t seen them, you miss out on a huge part of the conversation. Come on, get with the zeitgeist!
Question: How to Install a Streaming Media Device
Answer: Streaming devices are designed to just plug and play. Most come with companion apps, or simply connect to your existing accounts (like Apple, Amazon, and Google). They’re supposed to be super user-friendly so you can get to watching your content in no time.
Question: How much do streaming media devices cost?
Answer: These devices range in price from around twenty-five dollars to more than a couple hundred dollars.
Question: Will Amazon, Google, and Roku make new 2022 models on their streaming media devices later this year?
Answer: Amazon and Roku release new versions every single year. Apple and Google seem to release new versions about every two years or so.
Question: Why you should trust Ideaing?
Since 2013, our team at Ideaing spend thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products so you don’t have to. After extensive research on the top streaming media devices available on the market, we are excited to share some of our favorite options for this year.
Do you currently have a media streaming device at home, or are you in the market for one?
Share your feedback with us below – we would love to hear from you!
Note, that this article is updated and maintained with the latest news and information. Last updated on November 15, 2022. First published on January 6, 2018. Thank you for being so supportive!