With so many TVs coming with their own built-in smart services, it’s hard to recommend a good streaming box that does what these TVs don’t. However, there are a few that offer features you won’t find on smart TVs, like voice remotes, 4K playback, and more. Here’s a quick look at the best streaming devices of 2016.

Best Overall – Roku Ultra


If you want access to all your favorite online services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video and more in 4K, then look no further than the Roku Ultra. It has a small footprint and you can use it to watch just about anything you want on the internet.

The included remote also features voice search and an audio jack for private listening, should you share an area with others who may not appreciate you watching movies late at night. The voice search is especially robust on this model, as it will pull up search results from over 100 providers so you’ll find something you want to watch.

If you don’t care about 4K streaming but you still want access to the Roku ecosystem, then the Roku 4 can be had a little cheaper.

Buy on Amazon

Best Budget – Chromecast, Fire TV stick, or Roku Express



For $35, Google’s Chromecast 2 is a no-brainer for anyone who is already embedded deep within Google’s ecosystem. You can stream your music, movies, TV shows, and even your browser pages using the Chromecast, making it a very versatile tool in your media arsenal.

It’s also compatible with Google’s new efforts to invade your living room, so if you have a Google Home you can use voice commands to have all of your media displayed on your Chromecast hooked to your TV. The newest Chromecast comes available in three different colors, including red, yellow, and black.

If you absolutely need 4K streaming with your Chromecast, Google’s Chromecast Ultra fits the bill with the same features but at a higher cost. It’ll set you back $69.

Buy from Google Store

Roku Express



Roku and Amazon both offer streaming sticks that are direct competitors to Google’s Chromecast. If you’re not as embedded in Google’s ecosystem and want to branch out, the Roku Express is the perfect way to experience the Roku ecosystem on a budget. It can be had for only $29, making it cheaper than Google’s option.

Buy on Amazon

Amazon Fire TV stick

amazon fire tv stick

Amazon’s Fire TV stick is also a great option for those who want a low-cost option that’s compatible with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-enabled search system. Alexa is more robust than Google Home at this point, compatible with more actions and devices than Google Assistant, but that could change in the future now that Google has released its API for the service. Still, if you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, the Amazon Fire TV stick is a great complement to these devices.

Buy on Amazon

Best Value – Amazon Fire TV

amazon fire tv voice remote

Amazon Fire TV is a great option for Amazon Prime members who want access to Amazon Instant Video. Currently, that’s not possible with the Chromecast unless you cast a browser tab with Amazon Video open, which can be annoying and may not work properly. The Fire TV also one-ups Google’s Chromecast by shipping with a voice-enabled remote, so you can search for content with ease.

For only $90, you’re also getting access to a small console that is capable of playing games as well. It’s not as robust as the Nvidia Shield TV that’s further down this list, but it does have a handful of games and Amazon has purchased game studios who are working on developing new content directly for their streaming services. It’s hard not to recommend the Fire TV to anyone who wants to take advantage of all the movies, tv shows, and music available through Amazon Prime.

Buy on Amazon

Best Android TV – Nvidia Shield TV


If you want the best Android TV experience you can have, then look no further than the Nvidia Shield TV. This box delivers where the Ouya didn’t, bringing movies and tv shows straight to your living room, but also games thanks to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, which lets you stream a handful of PC and Android games straight to your living room.

It works a lot like the failed OnLive game streaming service that released a few years ago, but without as much latency and a better selection of games. The service is only $7.99 a month and includes some great games with new games being added each month.

Nvidia has been incredibly supportive of this device with updates and new additions, so for anyone looking for the pinnacle of the Android TV streaming experience, this is it until Nvidia unveils their new box, perhaps at CES this year.

Buy on Amazon

Android TV Honorable Mention

Xiaomi Mi Box


Chinese tech giant Xiaomi is looking to break into the US market and one of the ways its doing that is with a new Android TV box. Called the Xiaomi Mi Box, it’s a budget counterpart to Nvidia’s Android TV that performs almost as well. It’s capable of streaming 4K and HDR content, features a remote control with voice commands, and also features support for DTS and Dolby Digital Plus for amazing audio delivery.

We don’t know if Xiaomi will support the Mi Box as well as Nvidia has its own Shield TV, but it’s also several dollars cheaper than the Shield TV at only $69. If you want to take a chance on Android TV and you’re looking for the perfect streaming box to do so, the Xiaomi Mi Box just might fit the bill.

Buy on Amazon

Best for Live TV – Slingbox M2

slingbox banner

Unlike every other streaming media box on our list, this one isn’t for cord-cutters who still want access to services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Instead, you hook it to your existing cable box so you can then watch your TV service from any device no matter where you are. It’s pretty nifty and there’s no monthly fees involved.

You can also record any of the live TV using the box, so it functions like a DVR for the service without having to pay extra for Tivo or any other add-ons you may want. For those who aren’t quite ready to cut the cord yet, but still want access to all the TV they watch, this is definitely the best option.

Buy on Amazon