There are numerous ways to stream content online on your TV. You’ve got your game consoles and Blu-ray players with integrated streaming services, and recent TVs already come with built-in streaming apps. But if they lack the exact media service that you want, you can get yourself a dedicated media streaming device. Ever since Apple TV launched in 2007, we’ve had more than a decade’s worth of streaming devices, ranging from tiny HDMI sticks to discreet set-top boxes. Right now, two of the best streaming devices are available on Amazon at awesome discounted prices: The Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Fire TV Cube. Save up to $20 on these deals as part of Black Friday.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ used to take up the top spot of our best streaming devices for 2019. Although it’s no longer the best that you can buy, it’s still a formidable device that boasts a dead-simple interface and lightning-fast performance. Package includes the slender Roku Streaming Stick+, which is small and unobtrusive, a USB extension cable, a Roku remote, batteries for the remote, and a mini-USB power cable that houses the 802.11ac MIMO dual-band Wi-Fi antenna. The dual-band antenna provides the Roku Streaming Stick+ with four times the range as the old Roku Streaming Sticks and helps reduce interference.
Setting it up is pretty straightforward. Just plug the stick into your TV’s HDMI port and the power cable into one of its USB ports (or an adapter if it doesn’t have one), and you’re done. The downside of hooking it up to your TV is slower boot-up times because it will be powered down when your TV is turned off, rather than remain on all the time while getting power from the wall.
Roku is perhaps the most foolproof TV interface that we’ve ever come across. Its smartphone app-like grid of “channels” is intuitive and well-organized, although we have to admit it’s looking a little dated. Roku also offers the best search abilities and content tracking system across all platforms. Use voice search for a title and Roku will present all available relevant information, including other available apps and the corresponding cost of any streaming service, as well as free options. Roku supports 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos Audio, although it unfortunately lacks Dolby Vision. It also doesn’t offer a built-in digital assistant, but it is compatible with Alexa. You have to buy a separate Alexa-powered device in order to ask your TV a question or start and stop a movie through voice command.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ normally retails for $60, but right now you can get it on Amazon for just $49 – that’s $11 of savings.
You guessed it right: Amazon’s Fire TV Cube has snatched the crown as the best streaming device from the Roku Streaming Stick+. It is essentially a Fire TV stick and an Echo speaker all rolled into one, but is in fact far more advanced. Featuring a blazingly fast processor, unprecedented hardware control, and intuitive voice recognition, it’s the all-encompassing entertainment control center we’ve all been waiting for. And with Alexa built-in (no need for a separate Echo speaker), it may be enough for you to throw your trusty remote control away. Well, not quite. But we admit using it is a blast.
The package includes the Fire TV Cube itself (make sure you place it at least a foot away from any speakers so it won’t have difficulty differentiating human voice from TV programming or music), an Ethernet adapter (ideal so you can watch 4K Ultra HD resolution much faster, but it has Wi-Fi built-in), power cord, an extendable IR Blaster with lengthy cable, and a Fire TV voice remote with batteries. While voice command is way more fun, sometimes you just want things to go faster by just clicking the remote. Setup is quite easy. Just hook it up to your home Wi-Fi network (if you don’t use Ethernet) and then input your Amazon account information. It’ll ask you which apps to add (of course, Amazon Prime Video is already there by default, and Netflix is a no-brainer) and while they download in the background, the system will learn your entertainment history and preferences.
Once everything’s set up, prepare to be blown away. Using Alexa, you’ll be able to use voice commands to turn on your TV, swap between apps, and even switch inputs over to other connected devices like gaming consoles, A/V receivers, and Blu-ray players. You can just walk into the room with everything off, and tell Alexa to “play Stranger Things,” and the Cube will switch on the TV and soundbar and immediately start up the show on Netflix — all without a remote. It’s the closest thing you can get to the computer in the Starship Enterprise. The Cube supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision and features a much more open and platform-agnostic interface compared to the previous Fire TV releases. If you search for a title, you no longer have to go through a barrage of Amazon content and instead will immediately get the most relevant option, no matter what the app.
Refurbished Fire TV Cubes are currently on sale on Amazon for just $80 – that’s $20 less than their normal retail price of $100.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is small but powerful, with an interface that boasts plenty of snap and intuitiveness. But if you wish to have a more futuristic TV viewing experience courtesy of the rapidly improving Alexa, get the Fire TV Cube. Save as much as $20 if you get it on Amazon today.
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