Since you're stuck at home during the Netflix, and have throttled their video quality to help ease the strain on national networks, but what about the strain on your home network? Streaming is among the most bandwidth-intensive activities and with kids , grownups and everyone -- often, all at once -- your Wi-Fi connection could struggle.pandemic you're probably in the same boat as everyone else: . Services like
If your home network is having issues you could try disconnecting your streaming device from Wi-Fi. Using Ethernet instead, via a Cat-5 network cable, frees up your wireless network for other devices like laptops and tablets. Ethernet is also more stable and faster than Wi-Fi and doesn't have issues with walls, interference or distance (well, not in a house anyway).
The bad news is that you'll need to run wires from your router to your TV(s), but now that you're stuck at home it makes a good project, and. I ran a cable from the router in my basement to my TV entertainment center upstairs and it was easy, and now all of my main streaming devices are wired, not Wi-Fi. During these heavy-usage times you might even be OK running a temporary wire that you plan to remove later.
The other issue? While many game consoles and have Ethernet ports built in, most of the are Wi-Fi only, although some work with a cheap adapter. Here's a list of our favorite streaming devices that either have built-in Ethernet ports or work with Ethernet adapters. Note that all of the products below also work via Wi-Fi.
The most expensive Roku with built-in Ethernet is our top choice. Roku is our favorite streaming system, with the most streaming apps, the simplest interface, the best search and a content-agnostic platform that doesn't push any one media streaming provider, like Amazon Prime Video or iTunes, over another. In addition to an Ethernet port the Ultra has all the extras including 4K HDR streaming, a remote finder and two extra customizable shortcut buttons for your favorite services.
Unfortunately Roku doesn't make an Ethernet adapter like Fire TV and Chromecast (see below) so there's no easy way to connect a Wi-Fi-only Roku like the Streaming Stick Plus or Express via Ethernet. Read our Roku Ultra (2019) review.
The perfect foil to the Roku Ultra, the Apple TV costs almost twice as much but it's the better choice for people who can appreciate its advantages. Those include compatibility with Dolby Vision HDR, flexible upconversion, superior voice control features, a better remote and a smoother, slicker user interface. The Apple TV 4K is so good for media streaming, it even makes sense if you're not an "Apple person." Read our Apple TV 4K review.
Your Xbox or Playstation has an Ethernet connection and plenty of streaming video apps, but the Shield is more versatile and includes a real remote so you don't have to navigate Netflix with your game controller. In addition to streaming in 4K and HDR with access to thousands of Android TV apps, it offers a robust library of games -- from GeForce Now cloud gaming, PC streaming including Steam Link to numerous native console-level and Android games -- built-in Google Assistant complete with smart home control, NAS access, Plex server capability, HDHomeRun integration and much more. Read our Nvidia Shield TV review.
For a total of $55 -- $40 for the Fire TV Stick itself and $15 for Amazon's official Ethernet adapter -- you've got a complete wired streaming solution for roughly half the price of a Roku Ultra. The adapter is a simple little box that connects to the Stick's USB/power port on one end and to Ethernet (and power) on the other. We don't like the Fire TV system as much as Roku's but it does have its charms, starting with Alexa built into the voice remote. Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick with all-new Alexa Voice Remote (2019) review.
For $65 -- that's $50 for the Fire TV Stick 4K and $15 for that Amazon Ethernet adapter -- you the 4K HDR-capable version of Amazon's stick. We'd rather pay a bit more for the Roku Ultra but maybe you'd rather save the money. Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review.
Just like Amazon, Google makes a cheap adapter that lets you connect a wired Ethernet cable to its Chromecast streamer. The combo costs a total of $50 -- $35 for Chromecast and $15 for Google's adapter. We like Fire TV better because it includes an actual remote, but Android users who don't mind fiddling with their phones to stream might prefer Chromecast. Read our Google Chromecast 2018 review.
Google's 4K streamer actually comes with the Ethernet adapter in the box, so that's a plus. We'd still recommend the Roku Ultra for most people, however. Read our Google Chromecast Ultra preview.
As we mentioned, Roku makes our favorite media streamers for live TV streaming apps like Netflix, and it's even better as a platform baked into a TV. This TCL 4-Series is one of the most affordable Roku TVs on the market, available in a range of sizes and with image quality that's perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price. And like all 4K-capable Roku TVs in North America, it has an Ethernet port.
Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-inch. (The price shown below is for the 43-inch size.) See more of CNET's favorite TVs here.
Available only at Walmart this is technically the cheapest current device with Roku's streaming system and an Ethernet port. The savings compared to the actual, non-LT Ultra isn't much, however, and it lacks that device's slick extras like programmable keys, fast app launching and the remote finder.