News: The Best Streaming Media Devices to Watch Your Favorite TV Shows & Movies

The Best Streaming Media Devices to Watch Your Favorite TV Shows & Movies

By now, you've probably been inundated with enough Baby Yoda memes to last you a lifetime. But if you don't have the new Disney Plus streaming service on your TV, you're probably wondering where all this is coming from. Well, lucky for you, just in time for the holiday season, we're here to guide you to the best ways to take part in all the streaming fun when you're not glued to your mobile devices.

The streaming companies have made it very easy to consume your favorite shows via a smartphone or tablet, but let's be honest, do you really want to take in all your favorites on a screen the size of your palm? We didn't think so. So if you're ready to watch premium TV like a grownup, that is, on a large screen TV, here are just a few of the best deals on devices that can speed your way to TV streaming bliss.

1. Roku Ultra

By far, the Roku Ultra, which you can buy now for $78.05, is our favorite streaming device. The device works with Amazon Alexa and also provides a kind of platform-agnostic gateway to most of the various competing streaming services out there (for now).

Image via Roku

The device supports HD, 4K, and HDR televisions, and gives you access to services including Hulu, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, YouTube, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, and, of course, the Roku Channel.

If you're not familiar with the Roku Channel, its primary benefit is that it delivers free (albeit advertiser-supported) movies, TV, sports, and news.

The package comes with a slick and compact remote that has dedicated buttons for Netflix, Hulu, and Sling TV. That same remote also includes a microphone that allows you to issue voice-based search commands for your favorite TV shows and movies.

For storage, you can use the included microSD reader or the USB port to access external media via the Roku Media Player app.

Images via Roku

Additionally, the device, which is lightweight (8 ounces) and about the size of a New York bagel (4.9 x 4.9 x 0.8 inches), comes with a pair of headphones you can plug directly into the remote when you don't want to disturb your friend or family member sleeping next to you.

The system even includes a remote-finding button to locate your magic TV wand when you misplace it. The Roku Ultra is simple, powerful, quick to set up, and easy to snag here.

*Note: If you don't want more devices than necessary, you can also buy one of the many TV sets with built-in Roku, such as the Sharp 50-inch LED 1080p Smart HDTV, available to buy now for $300, or the TCL 65S513 65-inch Class 4K UHD Roku LED LCD, available to buy now for $899.99. With the Roku mobile app, you can do things like voice search, type queries, use wired or wireless headphones, and more.

2. Amazon Fire Cube

The Amazon Fire Cube, available now for $89.99, is a device that is still a bit of a dark horse among streaming devices — many people don't seem to even know it exists. But it does, and it's the perfect complement to Amazon's increasingly high-quality original TV and movie offerings.

Image via Amazon

Like the Roku Ultra, the Amazon Fire Cube also has a microphone embedded in its remote, giving you access to the powers of Amazon Alexa voice commands on its native platform. In fact, the far-field microphone can even understand your commands while the background noise of the TV blasts actor dialogue and cinematic explosions.

And while the Amazon Fire Cube may not be as well known as its competitors, its design helps it stand out. The matte black device looks a lot like a tiny Star Trek Borg cube and its dimensions are an easy-to-fit-anywhere 3 x 3.4 x 3.4 inches.

The device offers 16 GB of storage and its backside sports a micro USB port and a standard HDMI port. If you're looking to plug into a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi, you can use the Ethernet-to-micro USB adapter included in the package.

Images via Amazon

Using Amazon's device, you'll have access to Disney Plus, YouTube (a surprisingly robust TV-watching option nowadays), Apple TV Plus, Sling TV, Starz, Epix, HBO, Showtime, and other networks.

If you are a die-hard Amazon user (translation: you look for the Prime logo on nearly every purchase), and you've never owned a streaming device before, this might be the best fit for your needs. Grab it now here.

*Note: Like the Roku Ultra, you can also find televisions with built-in Fire TV features, such as the Toshiba 50-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV HDR, available to buy now for 279.99, and the Insignia 50-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV HDR, available to buy now for $279.99. You can also use the Amazon Fire TV mobile app on your smartphone as a remote, and you can you use Echo and/or Alexa to control the TV by voice.

3. Apple TV

Not content to simply sell iPhones, tablets, and computers, Apple jumped into the TV game a few years ago with the Apple TV. And now that Apple TV+, its original streaming content service, has launched, you can be sure that the tech giant will devote even more brainpower toward its TV efforts. The latest version of Apple's streaming media device is the Apple TV 4K, which you can buy now for $199 at the 64 GB storage level (the 32 GB storage level is available for $179).

Image via Amazon

As its name suggests, it supports 4K televisions, but it's also designed to support HDR (high dynamic range) televisions. You may have noticed that the Apple TV 4K is the most expensive device on this shortlist. So what are you getting for that premium price tag?

Aside from the aforementioned HDR feature, the device's (sized at 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches) A10X Fusion chip also helps power crystal clear video, and you get access to the familiar virtual assistant known as Siri, which you voice-control through the mic-enabled remote included in the 15-ounce square package. (We preferred the old, super slim, silver remote, but the new one will do just fine.)

Image via Amazon

Speaking of the remote, unlike its competitors, there are no branded buttons on the remote. Instead, Apple sticks to its aesthetic of simplicity, with just five buttons on the remote. Overall, the Apple TV 4K is the most high-end, simple yet powerful streaming media device you can find today — which, sort of, explains its premium price.

But really, if you're an Apple devotee, paying top dollar for Apple's polish and brand guarantee is something you're used to by now. If you're ready to triple down on your Apple devotion, you can buy the Apple TV 4K here right now. But if all you want from Apple is its Apple TV+ subscription service, then there are plenty of smart TVs that have the Apple TV app available to use.

Cover image composite via Disney Plus & Apple

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