Media Streamers:

Best media streamers of 2015


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 device for the money

Roku 2

A nearly perfect mix of speed, features, price and ecosystem make the Roku 2 our favorite streaming device yet.

Price: $66.99 - $69.99 Check prices

5 stars Spectacular Faster Roku 2 masters the streaming universe

Best streaming device, period

Roku 3

Voice search makes the Roku 3 the best video streamer in its price class, but if you don't need it or the remote's headphone jack, save some money and get the Roku 2.

Price: $89.00 - $99.99 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding

Best streaming stick

Roku Streaming Stick (2014)

Although not as fast as Roku's boxes, the 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.

Price: $39.99 - $64.49 Check prices

4 stars Excellent

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, or who need HBO Now right now, but for everyone else it's a step behind the Rokus.

Price: $67.86 - $73.99 Check prices

4 stars Excellent

Best for Amazon content and hotel Wi-Fi

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 travel-friendly features make it easily worth the $40 price.

Price: $39.00 Check prices

4 stars Excellent

Best for casual games, voice search

Amazon Fire TV

A worse value than the Stick, the Fire TV box is still a solid choice for the Amazon faithful who value its extra features.

Price: $99.00 - $99.99 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good

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: $82.00 - $99.99 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: $29.99 - $34.99 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.

Price: $46.99 - $49.99 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good
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