Media Streamers:

Best media streamers of 2015

Updated

With the rise of excellent streaming-media services like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Sling TV and Pandora, it's easier than ever to ditch your discs and embrace streaming content directly to your TV. Below are our top streaming-media device picks. We've limited the list to standalone streaming boxes and sticks, but be aware that lots of other home theater products are competent streamers these days, from Blu-ray players to game consoles to TVs themselves.

Best streamer for Apple users

Apple TV

The Apple TV is an indispensable living room companion for people invested in iTunes content and Apple hardware, but for everyone else it's a step behind the Roku 3.

4 stars Excellent

Best value in a streaming box

Roku 2

The Roku 2 offers tons of content sources and an innovative remote with built-in headphone jack for less, but the faster Roku 3 is still our favorite pick.

4 stars Excellent

Best for playing local files

Western Digital WD TV Media Player (2014)

While not for everyone, the WD TV's adroit playback of video and music files makes it the perfect living room box for people with large digital media collections.

Price: $99.00 - $149.99 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good

Cheap, innovative alternative

Google Chromecast

Google's $35 Chromecast stick relies on your phone, tablet or PC to do the heavy lifting, enabling some cool functions but also making it harder to use than sticks with physical remotes.

Price: $49.00 - $69.00 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good