Which Streaming Device Is Right For You?
With the wide and ever-growing array of online streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Instant, and Netflix, finding the right media streamer to bring your favorite shows to your TV becomes a pretty important decision. Not all streamers are equal
eitherwhether the differences lie in price or features, different types of viewers will want very different things. In light of all that, heres five different media streamers available on the market today, and what kind of viewer theyre suited for.
Apple TV: The Media Streamer for Apple Fans
- Price: $99.99
- Best for: iTunes and Apple users
Apple TV may lag a little behind the competition in one area: released in 2012, it offers a little under 50 different streaming apps, with the notable exclusion of Amazon Instant, Spotify, and Pandora. While it has less streaming options than some other dedicated streaming devices listed, if youve got an iPhone and a Macbook, Apple TV offers some very exciting features. First off, its the only media streamer that syncs up with your iTunes library
, making it simple to access all the music, shows, and movies youve already got on iTunes and on your Apple devices. Also, it offers seamless integration with AirPlay, meaning that you can beam content from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to your TV easily. While there have been rumors of new updates from Apple TV, nothing official has been announced and talk of a postponed release date of 2015 has been circulating.
SEE ALSO: How TV Everywhere Is Saving Cable
Playstation 3 and 4: The Best Game Console for Media Streaming
- Price: Varies, ranging from $200 (PS3) to $399.99 (PS4)
- Best for: Gamers already looking to buy a console
For some gamers, buying a media streamer may not even be necessary: the Playstation 3 and 4 both work as great media streaming devices. Not only do both of the consoles come with Blu Ray drives for high-quality movies
, but they also offer over 20 streaming apps
, including the popular Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, and Crackle. With a bit of tinkering, you can also stream almost any video from your PC to the PS4, making the PlayStation a pretty capable streaming device.
Chromecast: Streaming From Your Devices To Your TV
- Price: $35
- Best for: Viewers looking for a low-budget addition to their device-based streaming experience
Chromecast is by far the cheapest option for media streaming, and its perfect for transferring what youre already watching on your laptop, tablet, or phone to your TV. Chromecast is a tiny thumb drive that plugs directly into your HDMI port and interacts with your existing devices
. Just hit the cast button in one of the many supported apps
and cast whatever youre watching or listening to over to your TV. The lack of a remote and the integration with existing devices makes Chromecast easy and convenient to use. For newer, supported Android phones Chromecast also offers the feature of mirroring whatever youre looking at on your phone directly to your TV, whether this be a mobile game, your photo gallery, or just your browser.
Amazon Fire TV: Intuitive New Features
- Price: $99, with optional $40 game controller
- Best for: Amazon Prime subscribers, or those interested in voice search or parental controls.
One of the newest arrivals to the media streamer market is Amazon Fire TV, and it brings a couple features competitors dont yet offer. Amazon advertises their voice search feature
, which means you can press a microphone button on the included remote and search by voicing the title, actors, or director of the media youre looking for, eliminating the clunkier search provided by other streaming devices. The Fire TV also includes a parental control feature, and with the optional $40 remote, it can become a pretty capable gaming device. It already offers some big-name game titles, such as GTA: San Andreas, The Walking Dead, Minecraft, and Terraria. Amazon Fire TV will bring the greatest benefit to Prime subscribers, offering streamlined, voice-enabled viewing for the thousands of Amazon Instant movies and TV shows.
SEE ALSO: Can New TV Technology Save Television?
Roku 3: Feature-Packed, Versatile, and Streamlined
- Price: $100
- Best for: Anyone looking for comprehensive media streaming.
The Roku 3 is undoubtedly one of the best media streamers on the market. Its in the same price range as the Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, but offers over 1,500 channels
, making it the unmatched winner in terms of content. It also offers a couple other cool features, such as the ability to plug headphones into the remote for quiet watching, and a motion-sensor for some simpler gaming. Overall, the Roku 3 offers the fastest, cleanest, and most content-filled media streaming experience, though its a bit weaker at streaming content from your own media collection.
Whether youre a gamer, a Netflix junkie, or looking to mirror your online shopping sprees from your phone to your TV, theres a media streaming device to help you enhance and expand your existing TV services: all it takes is choosing the right one.