Briefly speaking it is a digital/electronic gadget capable of streaming data, like music or movies, in real-time from a local or online source to a compatible device like a HDTV, computer or smartphone. Any standard electronic or digital device including a LED or LCD TV, video game console, and Blu-ray DVD come with apps for streaming audiovisual content from a local media or online streaming service provider. However, if you’ve a very old TV set or a DVD player that is not equipped with the aforementioned feature, you can opt for a best streaming device 2018.
Majority of live TV streaming devices usually have Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity for linking with a service provider. At the same time, these streaming gadgets come with a built-in HDMI port connector for hooking with a TV or computer on which you wish to view the movie or enjoy an audio broadcast. The best streaming device for TV could be a humble streaming stick or a set-top box or it could be a more sophisticated media streamer like the ‘Roku Premiere’ or the ‘Amazon Fire TV’.
What to Look for in a Streaming Media Player: Top Features?
Picking and choosing a media streaming player could be a harrowing and time-consuming task owing to the sheer variety of live TV streaming devices available both online and offline. You could save yourself a lot of trouble (and time as well) if you fine-tune your search based on the sort of audio/video content you prefer to stream. If you simply wish to stream whatever online content is available on your smartphone, desktop or laptop, then going for a streaming stick (Google Chromecast or Roku stick) will suffice.
On the other hand, if you want to opt for a best streaming device to replace cable that’ll let you access almost unlimited TV channels, then the Apple TV or Android TV will be your best bet. If your TV offers HDR and 4K resolution, then you’ll need to go for a compatible media streaming player that’ll be able to stream the movies, music events, and shows you’ve a preference for. Your final choice will be based on the following considerations:-
- Streaming stick or set-top box-Your choice of the best streaming device for TV will determine whether you’ll be to take advantage of the various features and functionalities associated with data streaming. A set-top box will always offer more features compared to a streaming stick that’ll be offering just the basic ones.
- Functionalities or features-Depending on the shape and size of the media player you select, you’ll be able to able to make the most of some or all the functionalities. These features amongst other things include audio, video, and music streaming, social networking, online video, TV channels, gaming, shopping and so on.
- Nonconventional streaming websites-Top-notch live TV streaming devices will let you stream content from YouTube, Dailymotion, AOL On, Livestream, Earth Touch.com, and numerous other streaming sites.
- TV Channels-Standard media streaming players let you stream videos from popular TV channels like HBO, Fox, Disney, and Cartoon Network to name a few.
- Video streaming sites offering movies as well as TV channels-Some streaming gadgets allows you to connect to service providers that stream movies as well as TV channels.
- Music-The state-of-the-art devices that stream media allows you to connect to a host of networks broadcasting musical events including Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, Jamendo, VEVO, and SomaFM
- Streaming audio from different formats-You may have archived the music or audio files in your smartphone or PC in different formats like MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, OGG and so on. The best streaming device 2018 will be easily able to configure and stream a wide range of audio formats.
- Automated social networking-Oftentimes you may want to experience the thrill of connecting to your near and dear ones from a computer or DirecTV rather than a smartphone. There are streaming media gadgets that enable you to access Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Flickr.
- Wired/Wireless Connectivity-All media streaming devices have an HDMI connectivity option while the superlative models also come with advanced connectivity features like USB3.0, optical audio, Ethernet, and USB2.0.
- As far as wireless connection compatibility is concerned, nearly all media streamers offer Wi-Fi. There are streaming gadgets that are also compatible with Bluetooth, NFC, and DLNA connectivity technologies and offer infrared capability which enables you to monitor them via any remote.
- Remote Control Features-The more features a streaming media tool has, the greater the number of controlling options are there on the remote provided with it.
- Output Resolution-Higher priced models will have the capacity to stream video content having a resolution of 4K and/or 1080p whereas the models on the lower end of the price spectrum will offer a maximum resolution of 720p.
Reviewing the 5 of The Best Streaming Media Player 2018
Roku streaming media player models feature invariably in sites focusing on streaming device reviews and for good reasons. This streaming media gadget offers you access to over 4500+ TV channels featuring more than 4,50,000 TV shows and movies. The Roku Feed app offers you updates on every episode or event you wish to stream and also notifies you of a price plummet.
You can set up this gadget with a full HDTV or 4K ultra HDTV and you bet it’ll deliver picture quality that you expect from a high definition TV. It comes with an advanced remote that lets you plug the accompanying headset into it for enjoying audio without disturbing others. Voice search feature lets you track the remote if you’ve misplaced it accidently.
- 4K ultra high definition streaming technology: crystal clear images
- Streams over 4,500 TV channels
- Compatible with HDTVs and ultra HDTVs
- Voice search streaming by name of actor, film title or director
- Upgrading from 720p and 1080p to 4K ultra HD
- Easy installation: direct plugging into the HDMI port or the receiver
- Roku 4 is extremely lightweight and compact enabling it to be placed comfortably and occupies minimal space
- Remote control has numerous features including voice search and port for headphone jack
- Across the board connectivity: has Ethernet, micro SD card slot and USB port
- It is a streaming media player Android suitable for connecting with all Android and Windows-based gadgets
- Stream endless media from digital gadgets to HDTV including music, movies, and photo files
- Roku 4 gets extraordinarily after it has been in use for some hours and the fan doesn’t keep it cool enough
- The device also gets terribly noisy after a few minutes of operation
The Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Streaming Media Player is one streaming stick that outdoes many set-top box models in terms of performance. It is one of the best live TV streaming devices that you’d just need to plug into the HDMI receptacle of your HDTV to enjoy more than movies, music, video games, and much more. The remote reinforced with the Alexa Voice functionality lets you monitor whatever you prefer to watch simply by talking into the RC.
You’d just need to subscribe to DIRECTV NOW or CBS All Access via the Fire TV stick in case you don’t have a satellite or cable connection. The full function not only lets you pick and choose from more than 30,000 movies and TV shows but also lets you enjoy your favorite music and shop online.
- Quick and convenient access to thousands of networks and multiple service providers offering video, audio, movie, and TV channel streaming services
- Streaming access even with a cable or satellite TV
- Very lightweight and compact: weighs 32g and measures 3.4” x 1.2” x 0.5”
- Alexa voice control remote
- Broad-spectrum compatibility
- Fast and convenient setup: simply plug in the stick in the TV’s HDMI port, connect with a wall outlet, link with net, and you’re ready to go
- Compliable with any high definition TV, you can take the Fire Stick you wish to for enjoying movies or music outside your home
- Convenience to watch your favorite TV show, football game or tuning in to your choice numbers even if you don’t have a cable TV subscription
- Speak simple words into the remote for activating it to search what you’re looking for
- To make the most of Fire Stick, you’ll first have to be an Amazon Prime member
- There are other comparable streaming sticks that allows access to more content and greater customization in the home screen
The Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Player is a step-up from its sibling-the Amazon Fire Stick. It is one of the best streaming devices for TV offering you instant access to online entertainment via your HDTV. This streaming media player lets you take pleasure in viewing movies in 4K ultra HD format which implies that the images are vivid, bright, and lifelike.
The interactive remote obeys your voice commands to stream more than 3,00,000 TV episodes and films. You can order for a hamburger or pizza while you’re lapping up your favorite motion picture just by just by pressing a knob on the remote. Simply put, the streaming possibilities are endless with the Amazon Fire TV streaming media player.
- Voice control remote
- 2GB memory and 8GB internal storage
- Supports 720p, 1080p, and 4K ultra HD resolutions
- Gaming support
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Micro-SD card slot, USB2.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet, and DC jack
- Weighs 9.5oz
- Dimensions: 4.5” x 4.5” x 0.7”
- Compatible with any 4K ultra HD TV, it streams high quality music as well as movies and videos of the highest clarity
- Capable of streaming high resolution images even when connected to TV not having 4K technology
- Can stream audio and video simply by listening to voice commands
- Subscribing to DIRECTV NOW or CBS All Access lets you stream in real time even if you don’t have satellite or cable TV connection
- This Amazon Streaming Media set-top box is not as portable as the streaming stick and also occupies more space
- Alexa voice commands do not work for specific apps like ‘Netflix’
- Users will have to buy an HDMI adapter cable separately
- The remote is not very suitable for video games
The Roku 1 Streaming Media Player serves as your passport to unlimited entertainment letting you watch your choice movies, soundtracks, TV shows, and sports channels and immerse yourself in action-packed video games. This android media player box not only has a small print occupying only 1.2 x 3.7 x 3.7 inches but also is eminently portable weighing just 3.5 ounces.
Roku 1 which is one of the best streaming devices for TV is compatible for connecting with both HD and SD (standard definition) TV sets. The connectivity ports include DC-in (for powering up), video-in, L/R audio-ins, and HDMI-in. You can surf more than 1,000 sports, movies, music, cooking and fitness channels and the streamed images will be of HD
- Helps stream 2000+ channels
- Can be set up with any SD or HDTV
- 1080p image resolution
- Quick and convenient wireless installation
- Instant streaming of favorite channels from multifunctional remote
- Android and iOS apps supplied free of cost
- Watch preferred movie or TV episode simply by pressing a knob
- Can be installed and carried conveniently as Roku 1 is very compact and lightweight
- Compatible for setting up with any HDTV or standard definition TV via the HDMI port
- Effective for streaming unlimited movie, music, sports, cooking, lifestyle, news, and fitness channels
- Go back to watch your favorite movie or sports channel with a single press of a knob
- Stream music, video, and other media files from your digital devices like smartphone, tab or laptop to your TV set
- Since this is a revamped unit, don’t expect it to work as swiftly and smoothly in comparison to its bigger siblings
- Will take inordinately to load some TV channels
- HDMI connector cable not provided with the unit
Transform your TV a one-stop entertainment center with the help of NETGEAR NeoTV Streaming Player. The NETGEAR NTV300 is one of the best streaming devices 2018 that converts your TV into a virtual device for accessing almost innumerable audio and video channels offered by streaming media service providers. Compatible for connecting with Wi-Fi, the gadget is effective in streaming 1080p HD images and 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus audio.
The remote control provided with NETGEAR NeoTV streaming player is incredibly versatile as it lets you stream gazillion TV episodes and motion pictures offered by Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, and much more. You can even use your smartphone as a remote for monitoring the NeoTV.
- Built in Wi-Fi, Ethernet port, and HDMI out port
- Capable of streaming thousands of movie, sports, news, and fitness channels
- Images streamed have 1080p HD quality
- Surround sound/5.1 Dolby Digital Plus audio quality
- Can be set up with any iOS and Android enabled device
- Comes with a full set of components for smooth and fast setup
- Capable of streaming innumerable HD channels quickly and conveniently
- Offers apps free of cost for linking up with any iOS and Android device
- Ethernet port for wired connectivity
- Equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity option
- Convenience of converting your smartphone into a remote for streaming thousands of HD channels to your TV
- Track your preferred entertainment channels swiftly and conveniently using the NeoTV remote
- The media streamer slows down excessively and causes TV screen freeze up when streaming channels like Netflix or HuluPlus
- Search results don’t always match what is selected from listed program catalogue
- Many users will feel specific deficiencies of the remote like the lack of a QWERTY setup and the absence of a touchpad
From the numerous live TV streaming devices available, how’d you pick up the one that’d be ideal for you? The final choice will depend upon several factors including but not limited to your budget, whether you’ve a 4K TV or not, and the HD channels you’d prefer to stream. This review laid bare the essentials of 5 of the best streaming media players of 2018, including 2 set-top boxes from Roku, 1 set-top box each from NETGEAR and Amazon, and 1 streaming stick from Amazon.
Both the Roku 4400R and the Amazon media streaming players had a similar price costing under $90 and each had its specific pros and cons. The Roku1 costing under $30 had less features compared to the above two. The set-top box from NETGEAR attracted a lot of negative reviews. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you could either go for the Roku 1 or the Fire TV Stick. In case you want nothing else but the best, go for the Roku 4400R or the Amazon Fire TV.