Media Streamers:

Best media streamers of 2016


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 streaming experience, plus apps

Apple TV 2015

The new Apple TV's awesome remote and voice control make it one of the best entertainment devices, especially for anyone who already owns plenty of Apple gadgets.

Price: $88.00 - $269.00 Check prices

4 stars Excellent

Best value for Apple users

Apple TV

The Apple TV is an indispensable living room companion for people invested in iTunes content and Apple hardware, or who need HBO Now right now, but for everyone else it's a step behind the Rokus.

4 stars Excellent

Best value for phone-centric users

Google Chromecast (2015)

The innovative Chromecast might be the ultimate living-room accessory for your phone or tablet, but more traditional streaming devices deliver a better streaming experience.

3.5 stars Very good

Best streamer for Amazon fans

Amazon Fire TV (2015)

The Fire TV is a formidable streamer with 4K capability and oodles of features, but it tries too hard to serve up Amazon's own TV shows and movies.

3.5 stars Very good

Best value 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: $134.50 - $159.00 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good

Best option for analog TV connections

Roku 1

The Roku 1 offers analog video and Roku's great ecosystem, but it's slower and less capable than the Streaming Stick or step-up Roku boxes.

3.5 stars Very good

Best for gamers and tech nerds

Nvidia Shield

While the Nvidia Shield's 4K video and solid gaming chops make it the most potent Android TV device yet, app shortfalls and a relatively high price limit its appeal.

3 stars Good