Streaming Devices: Letting You Stream TV on an Actual TV Again

If you like streaming but hate neck and shoulder pain, you should get a media streaming device. Streaming devices let you watch TV the way it was meant to be watched—from the couch, with a remote—so you no longer need to hunch over your phone screen, hold your tablet up over your face, or get out the HDMI big guns just to stream a 20-minute TV episode. Streaming devices also consolidate all your subscriptions to streaming TV services like Hulu®, Amazon Video, Netflix®, and HBO Go®, so you don’t have to navigate to them one at a time. Keep reading to learn about the most popular devices for online streaming and find the best media device for you.

The Streaming Stick

What is a streaming stick?

A streaming stick is an HDMI plug-in bar that connects streaming services directly to your TV set. Low-profile and easy to use, a streaming stick is the simplest way to watch TV on a TV again. Streaming sticks are also portable, so you can carry your personalized online streaming collection with you to friends and family’s homes, to hotels, or any other place with an HDMI hookup. Streaming sticks usually offer apps for light gaming, as well.

Popular Streaming Sticks

Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick

Best Features

  • Over 4,000 channels, apps, and games
  • Dolby Digital and 4K streaming support for serious audiovisual quality
  • Decent gaming options for casual players
  • Parental controls for family-friendly streaming
  • Voice search via app or remote

Drawbacks

  • Over 4,000 channels, apps, and games
  • Dolby Digital and 4K streaming support for serious audiovisual quality
  • Decent gaming options for casual players
  • Parental controls for family-friendly streaming
  • Voice search via app or remote
Chromecast
Chromecast

Best Features

  • Over 2,000 channels, games, and apps
  • Supports Netflix, YouTube, HBO Now, Spotify, and more
  • Most affordable streaming stick

Drawbacks

  • Only 512 MB of memory, which limits quality
  • Not a user-friendly interface; it simply projects your mobile or computer screen onto a television or larger monitor
  • Must be paired with a mobile or tablet to function, creating more potential for lag
  • No voice search
Roku Streaming Stick
Roku Streaming Stick

Best Features

  • Over 3,000 channels, apps, and games
  • Extremely powerful quad-core processor (most have dual-core) for quicker, smoother navigation
  • Voice search via app
  • Supports HD video

Drawbacks

  • Has less than 1GB of flash storage
  • Limited gaming options
Is a streaming stick right for me?

If all you care about is breaking free from your computer crouch, get a streaming stick. It’s the most user-friendly streaming device by far. Streaming sticks are also perfect for the frequent traveler or someone who just wants to save space in the living room. And don’t worry about sacrificing quality—a streaming stick can give you decent HD quality as long as your monitor is equipped for it.

Streaming Boxes

What is a streaming box?

Like streaming sticks, streaming boxes were made to transform any ordinary TV into a smart TV. But generally, streaming boxes are larger and equipped with better processing capabilities, more or different apps, sophisticated voice search, and other advanced features and settings.

Popular Streaming Boxes

Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV

Best Features

  • Enjoy over 4,000 channels, apps, and games including access to over 250,000 TV episodes and movies on Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu, and more
  • Supports 4K UHD capabilities
  • Voice search via Fire TV Voice Remote
  • Expandable storage up to 200 GB
  • Quad-core processor for fast, fluid navigation
  • Offers 1,200 games, more than any other streaming media player
  • Also comes in a gaming edition

Drawbacks

  • Offers the same internal storage as the cheaper Fire TV Stick (8 GB)
  • Card sold separately
Roku (Gen 2-4)
Roku (Gen 2-4)

Best Features

  • Access to over 3,000 streaming channels and apps, with 300,000 movie & TV episodes
  • Voice search available through the Roku remote or the Mobile App
  • Roku 4 is compatible with 4K streaming displays for top-notch visual quality
  • Headphone jack available for private listening on Roku 3 and 4 remotes
  • Netflix & YouTube instant starts for fast loading
  • All models have at least dual-core processing; Roku 4 has quad-core
  • All models include USB/Micro SD card ports so you can load your own media
  • Roku 4 comes with a remote-finding feature

Drawbacks

  • Roku 2 and 3 have remarkably similar capabilities, but the price shoots up for the Roku 3
  • Card sold separately
Apple TV (Gen3 and 4)
Apple TV (Gen3 and 4)

Best Features

  • Excellent Siri voice search with nearly hands-free navigation
  • Full access to music, TV, and movies from iTunes (Gen 3)
  • Access to the entire App Store (Gen 4)
  • Serious sound quality with Dolby Digital 5.1 (Gen 3) and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 (Gen 4)
  • Powerful dual-core A8 processor (Gen 4) and sleek Glass Touch surface (Gen 4)
  • Remote with IR transmitter and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities
  • Smooth, well-designed user experience
  • Robust online shopping

Drawbacks

  • Not great for heavy gaming, so may not be cost-efficient for some households
  • Pushes Apple products, which may be frustrating to the brand-agnostic
  • Gen. 3 has only a single-core A5 processor
  • Gen. 4 is bulkier than previous models
Is a streaming box right for me?

A streaming box is right for you if you like basic, easy-to-use streaming technology but expect consistently higher quality and choice than you can get from a streaming stick.

Stream on a Smart TV

What is a smart TV?

A smart TV is a television that can connect to online streaming services and other apps without the help of an external device. The smart TV brings you audio and video streaming in one sleek device, with no HDMI plug-in to keep track of. For those who dial in to conference calls from home or those who frequently video chat with friends and family online, smart TVs usually have cameras built in for fast and easy video chatting .

Popular Smart TV Brands

Samsung
Samsung

Best Features

  • All smart models support 4K UHD resolution
  • Curved screens available
  • Smart Hub built-in Wi-Fi
  • Switch easily from app to app
  • Remote uses computer-style cursor so pointing and clicking is more intuitive
  • Search and navigate via voice control and even hand gestures!
  • Screen share available, so you can display your mobile content on your TV
  • Split screen feature lets you open two windows at once for easy multitasking
  • Can be set to automatically turn on, show weather broadcast, and display schedule each morning (when paired with smartphone)

Drawbacks

  • Must have a Samsung phone to get the full capabilities out of the device
  • Advanced models can be cost-prohibitive if all you want to do is stream
Vizio's SmartCast<sup>&trade;</sup> TVs
Vizio's SmartCast TVs

Best Features

  • Variety of resolutions available, from HD to ultra HD (4K)
  • Full-array LEDs for backlighting
  • Most advanced models come with sophisticated tablet remote with 8GB+ storage
  • Most advanced models have Ultra Color Spectrum, High Dynamic Range & Dolby Visio support
  • Quad-core and even octa-core processors for high computing efficiency
  • Advanced voice search

Drawbacks

  • Only the most advanced (and expensive) models have built-in Wi-Fi
  • No USB for viewing owned content
LG Smart TVs
LG Smart TVs

Best Features

  • Partnered with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, as well as VUDU, YouTube, and Google Play
  • Full access to LG App Store
  • Many models are ENERGY STAR® Qualified with LED/OLED technology
  • Affordable models starting as low as several hundred dollars
  • Variety of resolutions available, from HD to ultra HD (4K)
  • Screen share available
  • Virtual Surround Plus available

Drawbacks

  • Has less than 1GB of flash storage
  • Limited gaming options
Should I get a smart TV?

If the longevity of your streaming device is important to you, you’ll get more from a smart TV than a streaming stick or box; smart TVs are greater investments for the brands and therefore likely to have their software supported longer. For the design-conscious who just want a clean and minimal streaming experience, a basic smart TV is a great choice. For others, advanced smart TVs can give all the streaming quality you could hope for while also doubling as a general home media hub for browsing, scheduling, and more. While smart TVs have been cost-prohibitive in the past, today manufacturers are making them more affordable.

Game Console Streaming

What is a game console?

Game consoles are the most powerful streaming machines out there. With console streaming, you and your family can enjoy high-quality streaming from HD up to 4K, as well as intensive gaming and premium offline media features.

Popular Gaming Consoles

PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4

Best Features

  • Access to PlayStation Music and PlayStation Store® and major streaming apps, as well as hobby-specific apps like MLB.TV®, NFL Sunday Ticket, Qello Concerts, and more
  • Impressive library of box-office and indie gaming hits
  • Wireless stereo headset for private listening, with 7.1 virtual surround sound
  • Universal Media Remote can control up to 3 third-party devices, e.g., TV, cable box, or audio receiver
  • Supports 4K UHD streaming

Drawbacks

  • 4K UHD streaming applies only for photos and video; not gaming
Xbox One
Xbox One

Best Features

  • Massive cloud-based game and movie store
  • Suppports movie, TV, and game streaming in HD, as well as 4K video (with compatible monitors)
  • Includes premium offline media features like built-in Blu-ray player and digital storage for movies and games
  • Ideal for households with streamers and gamers

Drawbacks

  • Expensive, especially for those who aren't gamers as well
  • Bulky, not portable
Nvidia Shield
Nvidia Shield

Best Features

  • Capable of streaming local media and even live TV!
  • Impressive gaming capabilities
  • Streams games, movies, and TV in HD and even 4K video (with compatible monitors)
  • Large storage capacity

Drawbacks

  • Expensive, especially for non-gaming households
  • Large and difficult to transport
Is game console streaming right for me?

If you or someone else in your family frequently plays online video games, the Nvidia Shield, Xbox One, and PS4™ make excellent multifunctional streaming devices. They combine high-quality streaming, gaming, shopping, and Blu-ray display into one large but compact device that looks right at home in a premium home media setup.

Do I Need Extra Speed for My Streaming Device?

Yes, all streaming devices require some bandwidth beyond the minimum required for active streaming. The bandwidth needed for media devices isn’t standard; the Chromecast, for example, may need more than other streaming sticks because the data has to go through your phone first, while another may need more because it stays on in the background. The good news is that across the board, media devices don’t need much speed just to run. In fact, adding one more Megabit per device to your plan speed will usually give you more than enough bandwidth.

Still seeing lag?

Check in with your router

If you have a UHD screen, a Roku 4 streaming box, and a 150Mbps connection and you’re still seeing lag, get a new router. New routers are built to manage packet data more efficiently, which improves streaming.

Media Streaming with Frontier

For the best streaming, you need fast and reliable Internet

With a download speed of 3-5Mbps, you can enjoy quality streaming for movies, TV, music, and radio. What you can’t enjoy is a virtually lag-free connection for every game console or streaming device being used concurrently under your roof. For today’s increasingly connected homes, Frontier offers High-Speed Internet and FiOS® Internet plans that make more room for each gamer, social butterfly, and video streamer in your home.

Fast Speeds

High-Speed Internet

as fast as 24Mbps

FiOS Speeds

FiOS Internet

as fast as 150Mbps

Frontier Communications

Check Frontier Availability in your Area:

Please select your state to find deals in your area