Amazon Fire TV Stick
While it doesn't match the app selection or search capabilities of Roku, Amazon's Fire TV Stick's solid performance and mastery of Amazon content make it easily worth the $40 price.
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.
Google Nexus Player
Until it receives a major infusion of native apps and developer support, and better integrates non-Google services, the Nexus Player with Android TV offers no compelling upgrade over other streaming devices.
As a streaming-based DVR the Simple.TV offers a lot of functionality including a novel sharing feature, but if you just want to watch on your TV, instead of a tablet or phone, there are better alternatives.
Amazon Fire TV
The Fire TV streaming-media box is an impressive living room debut for Amazon, with standout features like voice search, gaming, and superfast video streaming, but it falls short of being an elite streamer -- at least for now.
Roku Streaming Stick ( 2014)
Roku's Streaming Stick offers tons of apps, a real remote, and a compact design for just $50, making it the best streaming stick and an outstanding value.
Roku LT ( 2013)
The Roku LT is the best budget streaming-media device, easily topping the $35 Chromecast.
Phorus PR1 Receiver
While the Play-Fi standard offers plenty of potential, the Phorus PR1 is currently too limited in its scope and performance to warrant buying over a Sonos.
Plair 2 is an interesting Chromecast alternative that offers access to the full suite of Android apps, but it's just not reliable enough to recommend.
The Roku 1 offers the same excellent experience that's found on other Roku boxes at a new low price, but there aren't many reasons to choose it over the new Streaming Stick or step-up Roku boxes.
The Roku 2 offers tons of content sources and an innovative remote with built-in headphone jack for less, but the Roku 3 is still our favorite pick.
PLAiR ( passion)
PLAiR is a neat-looking streaming device, but it's buggy, unreliable, and short on content.
Western Digital TV Play
The WD TV Play is the best alternative to Roku and Apple TV for viewers looking to access their personal media collection.
Netgear NeoTV ( NTV300)
The Netgear Neo TV NTV300 is one of the cheapest streaming boxes on the market, but it doesn't offer any compelling distinguishing features compared with the Roku.
Roku Streaming Stick
While the number of devices that support it will probably grow, the Roku Streaming Stick is still a niche item when compared with every other Roku device.
Roku LT ( 2012)
The Roku LT is a killer streaming-media box, offering tons of streaming content -- including favorites like Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, and Pandora -- for just $50.
Pricing not available
The Vizio Co-Star is an affordable way of getting the Google TV experience, but the software remains underwhelming and hampered by restrictions.
Google Nexus Q
The Nexus Q's striking, orblike hardware can't outweigh the extreme limitations of this Android-only, Google-only media streamer.
The Sony NSZ-GS7 has sleek hardware and an innovative remote, but it's hampered by the still too-limited and frustrating Google TV software.
Logitech Squeezebox Touch
The Logitech Squeezebox is an excellent digital-music device that offers good sound quality and a great variety of source options, but it's not for casual users.
Roku HD ( 2012)
With its ability to stream hundreds of audio and video channels (including Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and Hulu Plus), the $60 Roku HD would be our top pick for those seeking an ultra-affordable Internet media box -- if not for the fact that it's nearly identical to the slightly cheaper Roku LT.
Pricing not available
Elgato HD HomeRun
The Elgato HDHomeRun is a decent way to get over-the-air TV on your Mac, but its high bandwidth requirements mean you're better off opting for wired rather than Wi-Fi streaming.
Netgear NeoTV ( NTV200)
While it's a capable streamer the lack of any expandable memory and its limited connectivity really limit its universal appeal. It's also priced too high compared to the most recent Roku offerings.
While we recommend the Uebo M400 to the DIY streaming and content guru, the M400 is certainly not for novices. It's also desperately in need of some sort of QWERTY input remote.
While it sounds like a great device on paper, the Bigstream suffers from numerous performance issues that ultimately make for a below average experience.
WD TV Live Hub ( 1TB)
While it lacks integrated Wi-Fi and is more expensive than the Roku or Apple TV , the WD TV Live Hub's combination of snazzy interface and built-in 1TB hard drive will appeal to advanced users who have a lot of existing files they want to view on an HDTV or stream to other PCs on a network.
Roku XDS ( 2100X)
Thanks to its wide range of content offerings--including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, and Pandora--the Roku XDS is the best all-around streaming media box you can get for less than $100.
Sony's SMP-N100 streaming-video box isn't the easiest to use, but it offers an unparalleled feature set at its price.
Logitech Revue ( Google TV)
The Logitech Revue with Google TV is loaded with potentially game-changing functionality, but its high price, numerous caveats, and current assortment of bugs make it best-suited to early adopters--at least until promised firmware fixes become available.
Apple TV ( fall 2010)
The Apple TV is an excellent streaming video box, especially for Apple fans who will use AirPlay and the upcoming iTunes Match service, but it's missing a few key apps like Hulu Plus and Pandora.