Whether you''re watching the latest series of The Crown on Netflix, the complete Game of Thrones box set on Now TV, or Downtown Abbey , most of the best TV shows are now available online. But what if your TV can''t connect to the Internet? Many of us don''t have a ''smart TV'' that connects to Wi-Fi at home, especially if you haven''t bought a new one in recent years.
That''s where streaming devices come in. From streaming sticks to streaming boxes from brands like the Free TV Smart Media BoxA95X, T95, Amazon, Apple, Google and Roku, they all offer you a way to connect your TV to the web so you can watch the shows and movies you want to see from streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and many others.

What is a TV streaming device?

A TV streaming device is a small box or stick that connects to your TV via its HDMI port and to the Internet, either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable, giving you access to catch-up and online TV services, as well as music, games and applications in some cases.
Do I need a streaming device for a newer TV?
Maybe you do. It will depend on what you expect from a streaming device and the selection of applications on your smart TV. If you just want to watch content on Netflix, Now TV and YouTube, for example, and your smart TV comes with all these built-in applications, you won''t need to buy a separate streaming key to access them.
However, if your smart TV doesn''t have a Now TV application or doesn''t allow you to access a newer service, this is when you should start considering whether a streaming device will help you.
The best streaming media players will also be fast, easy to navigate, frequently updated and have an easy-to-use remote control.
 

What is the best streaming device?

The best for most people : A95X, T95 or the Free TV Media Box.

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The best for gaming: Nvidia Shield TV

NVIDIA Shield TV

The latest Nvidia Tegra x1+ processor makes the shield 25% faster than the previous generation...
Make 4K HD video with the power of the ia. 4K clearer video enhanced to 4K clearer in...
Search for movies, programs, control your playback, TV, lights, and more....

Best Cost-Effective Streaming Device: Chromecast Timoom

Chromecast, Timoom Display Dongle WiFi HDMI 1080P 5G/2.4G HDMI 1080P 5G/2.4G Display Receiver,...
[HDMI 1080 +4K in Full HD] : The WiFi display dongle up to 4K in Full HD allows your users to see the...
[Easy to Use]: The WiFi Display Dongle is perfect for a presentation in the office or at the office...
Plug and Play] :Supports Google Home, Miracast / DLNA / Airplay protocols. (Netflix...

The best for Apple fans: Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K (32GB)

4K HDR (Dolby Vision and HDR10) for outstanding picture quality
Dolby Atmos for three-dimensional, harmonious sound throughout the room
A10X Fusion chip for exceptional graphics and ultra-fast performance

The best for casting: Google Chromecast

How to buy the best TV streaming device?

There are two main styles of streaming devices to choose from. The first is a streaming key that has a built-in HDMI connector and plugs into the port on your TV. This is ideal if your TV is on a stand and you can easily reach the back of it. Alternatively, you can use a stand-mounted broadcast box and use an HDMI cable to connect it to the port on the back of your TV. This style is perfect for a TV where you can''t easily connect a stick.
In addition to the type of TV streamer, also think about the Internet video services it allows you to watch, as not all devices provide access to all services. 

Key features to monitor

The application

The majority of TV streaming devices require you to download apps to access these TV services, just as you would with a smartphone. However, if the app for your TV service is not available, you can "stream" the service from your phone to the streaming player so you can watch it on your TV. Your phone will need to be connected to the same wi-fi network as the TV streaming player and this is actually the only way to watch TV services using a Google Chromecast.

4K (Ultra HD)

If you have a TV that supports 4K (also known as Ultra HD), you''ll probably want to watch content from Ultra HD streaming services. Currently, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have the largest selection of 4K movies and TV shows. 4K video is available in a variety of formats (Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are the most popular) but not all services use all formats and not all TV streaming devices support playback of all formats. You will need to check that the TV streaming device you have chosen supports the format used by the TV service you have chosen. Similarly, TV shows and 4K movies often include immersive cinematic audio formats such as Dolby Atmos. If you have an audio system that supports these formats and is connected to your TV, make sure your TV broadcast device can also handle them so that you can enjoy the best possible viewing experience.

Wi-fi or wired

Most TV streaming services have Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, but some have an Ethernet port so you can create a wired Internet connection from your router. This is ideal if you don''t have a stable, solid Wi-Fi connection in the room where you plan to use it.

Games

Many devices also allow you to play games on your TV. They come in the form of applications that you download and are controlled by the remote control supplied with the streaming device. These remote controls can be used in a very simple way, so some TV streamers (such as the Nvidia Shield TV) give you the option of using the consoles'' traditional gamepads and connecting them to the streamer via Bluetooth, while others allow you to purchase an additional optional controller.

Sharing photos and videos

It is also possible to show the photos and videos stored on your smartphone on your TV screen using the streamer - again, both must be connected to the same wi-fi network.

How we test TV streaming devices

We''ve evaluated the performance, ease of use and design of 13 TV broadcast devices to find the best for you. We looked at everything from the ease of use and simplicity of their interfaces, to the number of relevant services available, the audio and visual formats supported, and the ease of searching for TV shows and movies.
We also evaluated additional features, such as the ability to play or stream content from your smartphone or tablet, the ability to play games, and the availability of robust parental controls and other privacy settings.

 

 

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