Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The top streaming devices compared: Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, and more

Cutting cable? The best streaming devices allow you to watch your favorite shows or movies, and have features like 4K capabilities and connections to smart home devices.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
Apple TV 4K | Best streaming device overall
Apple TV 4K
Best streaming device overall
View now View at Amazon
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max | Best streaming device for Alexa
Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Best streaming device for Alexa
View now View at Amazon
Chromecast with Google TV HD | Best streaming device for Google Assistant
Google Chromecast with Google TV (HD)
Chromecast with Google TV HD
Best streaming device for Google Assistant
View now View at Amazon
Nvidia Shield TV | Best streaming device for gamers
An Nvidia Shield TV box and its remote on a grey background
Nvidia Shield TV
Best streaming device for gamers
View now View at Amazon
Roku Streaming Stick 4K | Best streaming device for Roku
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
Best streaming device for Roku
View now View at Amazon

Technology has changed the way we live our lives, and watching TV is no different. After all, it's not just about TV anymore. You no longer need a smart TV when you have smart capabilities in the portable package of a streaming device. A streaming device offers greater flexibility, giving you many ways to watch your favorite content.

Also: The best movies and shows to stream right now

But first, you need the right streaming device. We scoured the market, comparing brands and models, to find the very best streaming devices you can buy today. My choice for the best streaming device is the Apple TV 4K for its affordability, fast app loading, and A12 Bionic chip. You can keep reading below to find out more about the Apple TV 4K as well as our other top picks for the best streaming devices.

The best streaming devices of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Very fast response time
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • More affordable
  • Lacks location tracking
  • Missing HDMI cable
More Details

Apple TV 4K tech specs: Resolution: 4K | Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi | Capacity: 32 GB, 64 GB | Video output: 2160p, Dolby Vision, HDR10

Apple TV 4K works with all of your Apple devices and services, offering an unparalleled experience for the Apple fan. The 4K High Frame Rate HDR and Dolby Vision, combined with Apple's A12 Bionic chip, mean a stellar picture, while Dolby Atmos sound guarantees superior sound. Your Apple TV 4K gives you access to Apple Originals with Apple TV+. You also have the option to enjoy Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, and Apple Music. For easier control, the unique remote skips the buttons and instead offers a touch clickpad. 

Read the review: Apple TV 4K review

Pros & Cons
  • Super affordable
  • High resolution
  • WiFi 6 compatibility
  • Lacks Google Cast
  • No Apple AirPlay
More Details

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max tech specs: Resolution: 4K Ultra HD | Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi | Capacity: 8 GB | Video output: 2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps

When you want access to Alexa, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max delivers. The Alexa Voice Remote simplifies things considerably, giving you complete control over your Amazon Fire streaming stick. The latest iteration of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max will also support generative AI functionality for improved Alexa responses to requests, which allows for greater accessibility.

With Wi-Fi 6E support, you will also enjoy Dolby Vision, HDR 10, and HDR10+ viewing with Dolby Atmos sound. You receive a stellar picture with 4K Ultra HD viewing, combined with a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor for faster streaming. It also supports cloud gaming services like Amazon Luna as well as the Fire TV ambient mode that lets you create a custom artwork or photography slideshow to turn your living room into a personally curated gallery when you aren't binge-watching reality TV.

Pros & Cons
  • Super fast
  • Very affordable
  • Easy-to-use remote
  • Upgrade is just a few dollars more
  • Restricted storage
More Details

Chromecast with Google TV HD tech specs: Resolution: 4K HDR | Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi |Capacity: 8 GB|Video output: 1080p HDR, 60 FPS Pixels

Chromecast with Google TV HD gives you access to Google Assistant, greatly simplifying life with its voice control. It works with your Google TV, giving you HDR[3] viewing, which means a better, clearer picture. With wireless Bluetooth connectivity, you can choose from live TV or on-demand content.  You can also use your Chromecast to help around the house, such as turning out lights or changing the temperature. 

Read the review: Chromecast with Google TV review

Pros & Cons
  • 4K HDR streaming
  • Google Assistant
  • Tons of ports
  • Pricey
  • Dated
More Details

Nvidia Shield TV tech specs: Resolution: 4K | Connectivity: Ethernet, WiFi | Capacity: 8 GB | Video output: 2160p

There's no doubt about it -- Nvidia Shield TV is the best streaming device for gaming. Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos pair together for an excellent picture with greater sound. The NVIDIA Tegra X1+ processor offers lightning-fast processing and supports Android TV version 11. It accepts both Wi-Fi and ethernet for connectivity while supporting a number of different streaming apps like Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and Pandora. A voice control remote comes included.

Pros & Cons
  • Simple to use
  • Dolby Vision
  • Tons of apps
  • No USB-C charging
  • Lacks WiFi 6
More Details

Roku Streaming Stick 4K tech specs: Resolution: 4K | Connectivity: WiFi |Video output: 2160p, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR 10+

Roku is a powerhouse when it comes to streaming devices, making it easily one of the best streaming devices that you can buy today. It is easy to connect to all of your favorite apps, like Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu. Roku also offers access to Roku Originals, plus over 275 Live Channels through the Roku Channel. No matter what you decide to watch, enjoy a beautiful picture with viewing in 4K Dolby Vision with long-range WiFi. The voice remote serves to further simplify things.

What is the best streaming device?

Apple TV 4K offers the best streaming experience with access to all of your favorite apps with superior picture and sound. To see how it compares, this is a bird's eye view of our best streaming devices.

Best streaming device



Apple TV 4K



Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max


4K Ultra HD

Chromecast with Google TV HD



Nvidia Shield TV



Roku Streaming Stick 4K



Which is the best streaming device for you?

To help you decide, these are our expert recommendations based on our study.

Choose this best streaming device...

If you want...

Apple TV 4K

A high–performing streaming device with great picture, sound, and Apple's bionic chip. It's one of the most expensive streamer's on our list but very worth it. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

An affordable streamer with the newest version of Alexa built-in. The Fire TV Stick also comes with Amazon Luna for gaming. 

Chromecast with Google TV HD

A streamer that also includes Google Assistant.

Nvidia Shield TV

To do a lot of gaming. The Nvidia Shield TV also comes with a voice control remote. 

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

An affordable powerhouse of a streamer.

How did we choose these best streaming devices?

There are several factors we consider when choosing the best streaming devices.

  • Performance: The speed with which a streaming device works is a major factor when choosing the best streaming device. Some devices work much faster, offering quick streaming that means a more stable picture. 
  • Picture and sound: Whether it is Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos, we look for streaming devices that use the latest technology to provide a superior picture with significantly better sound.
  • Apps: The best streaming devices offer access to your favorite apps, whether it is Netflix, Prime Video, or Disney+.
  • Voice support: Whether it is Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri, there are voice control remotes that can also offer support around the home, such as help turning on and off the lights.
  • Price: Budget is an important factor we keep at the forefront when searching for the best streaming devices. 

What is a streaming device and how does it work?

A streaming device works over a Wi-Fi or wired connection, using an internet connection to allow for instant, on-demand streaming. You can connect to many popular apps, such as Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu.

Do streaming devices have monthly fees?

Streaming devices do not have any monthly fees, but you may face fees with your favorite streaming services and channels, such as Disney+ and HBO. Before you sign up for a new service, be sure to check pricing and terms to determine that it is the right fit for you.

How much does a streaming device cost?

The best streaming devices range in cost from $30 to almost $150, depending on the model you choose. However, there are many different streaming devices available, so you should be able to find something within your budget.

Are there alternative streaming devices to consider?

For more options, check out these options that almost made our list of the best streaming devices.

This streamer is the best streaming device for voice control and starts at $140. 

The Roku Streambar comes with an Alexa voice remote and is the best streaming device with a soundbar. It starts at $55. 


This is a great runner up to the Roku we included on the top of our list. 

Editorial standards