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The Best Streaming Sticks

1
Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device with Alexa built in, Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, includes the Alexa Voice Remote

Editors Pick
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The 4K Fire TV Stick is the best all-around streaming stick we’ve used. It supports 4k video, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and can be easily controlled with your voice using the Amazon Alexa app. The 4k Fire Stick is small, affordable, fast, and has a sleek design. Set up is easy: plug it in, connect to your WiFi and log into your Amazon account.

Once you’re up and running, you’ll find thousands of apps to choose from. You don’t have to have Amazon Prime to use this stick, but if you do, you’ll find endless amounts of free content to stream. Note: Apple and Google streaming channels aren’t available on this stick, but pretty much every other major streaming channel is supported.

Key Features

  • 4K Resolution
  • HDMI Video Connection
  • Voice-Controlled Search

2
Roku Streaming Stick+ | HD/4K/HDR Streaming Device with Long-range Wireless and Voice Remote with TV Controls

Best Runner-Up
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Roku has been a strong player in the streaming stick game for the past few years, and this stick is no exception. The depth of channels and user interface make it a top pick for CinemaBlend staffers. This is hands-down the easiest interface to navigate; one CB staffer reports, “my five and three year old can both easily get to their favorite shows in under a minute. Plus, they really like when the Roku letters dance upon initial startup.”

Roku has the biggest selection of the apps CinemaBlend staffers deemed most users will actually watch (aside from Apple’s iTunes). On the cons side, the set up is a little longer than some of the other apps we tested and the voice search isn’t as sophisticated as others.

Key Features

  • 4K Resolution
  • HDMI Video Connection
  • Voice-Controlled Search

3
Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)

Best For Casting
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The Chromecast is a good value streaming option, but doesn’t offer a fancy interface or the bells and whistles of some of its competitors. It’s not a stick form, but a small disc shaped dongle that plugs directly into the back of your TV. It’s controlled from your mobile device and therefore allows you to easily cast whatever you’d like from your phone. One of the best use cases we have for the Chromecast is for travel; it’s small, portable, and allows you to stream content from your mobile devices on your hotel TV with ease.

Key Features

  • 4K Resolution
  • HDMI Video Connection
  • Voice Control with Google Assistant

4
Apple TV (32GB, 4th generation)

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If you’ve spent a lot of time and money building out your iTunes video collection, your best bet is the Apple TV. This is the only streaming device we tested that currently allows access to this content. In addition, Apple is investing heavily in its own programming, so we expect to see an influx in great content over the next few years.

Key Features

  • 4K Resolution
  • HDMI Video Connection
  • Voice Control with Siri

Why do I need a streaming stick?

While it’s true that most smart TVs now come with some streaming apps built in, they do not have all the options available. If you want to specifically watch content beyond Netflix, Prime or Hulu, you’ll want a device to enhance your options. When you switch to a streaming device, you will have thousands of channel options, as opposed to your TV’s handful of built in apps.

How hard is it to install?

All of the options on our list connect via HDMI and have user-friendly set up functionality. You can be up and running with each device on our list in under ten minutes.

What Major Channels Come Standard?

When it comes to streaming, content is king. On all of the devices we recommend, you can expect to get the major streaming services as paid apps:

Sirius XM

Pandora

PBS (and PBS Kids)

Playstation Vue

DIRECTV NOW

Crackle

WatchESPN

Disney +

Amazon Prime Video

Sling TV

Showtime

HBO

Hulu (and Hulu Live TV)

Netflix

Tip: To get the most out of your streaming stick, make sure your wireless router with high-speed capabilities. If you want to stream in 4k, your bandwidth should start at 15Mbps.

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