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Best video streamers for Christmas

Streaming boxes are now really useful and so cheap that they make ideal Christmas gifts. Here are our favourites for 2014.

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Jason Jenkins

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1 of 5 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Now TV box

If you have a friend or relative who doesn't have the streaming video bug yet, there's no better time to get them involved than this Christmas.

The very cheapest way to get stuck into streaming video, the Now TV box is unbelievably cheap at just £10. The reason it's so cheap is that Sky, owner of Now TV, wants to encourage you to sign up to its online service. But you can sign up for a month, cancel and use it as a way to stream iPlayer afterwards if you don't like the service.

The box is actually an older Roku model with a couple of features taken out, but it comes with its own remote control.

If you're buying it as a gift you can get it as a £20 bundle that adds two or three months of entertainment, sport or movies.

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2 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Chromecast

Providing they have a smart phone or tablet, this is a good way to get someone started with streaming. This small, cheap stick plugs into the HDMI port of a TV and adds iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and a host of other apps to any set. There's no remote control, so you have to use compatible apps on a phone or tablet to control it.

£18.00 at Amazon


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3 of 5 Lori Grunin/CNET

Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version)

Roku's Streaming Stick is one of the best compromises between value and performance. Like the Chromecast, it plugs into an HDMI port on a TV, but it also comes with a normal remote so you don't need to faff around with a phone every time you want to pause a movie. It supports most of the main streaming services around, including Google Play, although there's no Amazon Instant Video on the UK version.  £48.34 at Amazon


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4 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple TV

If the person you're buying for is heavily invested in iTunes movie and TV content, he or she may get more out of an Apple TV. This has one of the prettiest interfaces around and works very well with other Apple products, but be aware there's little support for familiar UK services like iPlayer, ITV or 4oD.

£64.00 at Amazon


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5 of 5 Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku 3

The big daddy of the Roku line, this is basically the same product as its Streaming Stick, but with a faster processor and an Ethernet port. So if the person you're buying for suffers from poor Wi-Fi in their house, this is the one to get for them.  £69.00 at Amazon

For loads more gift ideas, check out the rest of our Christmas Tech Gift Guide 2014.


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