Here are the best media streaming sticks and boxes available right now that can be used to watch movies and TV shows on apps like Netflix and Disney+
- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Best streaming stick and box 2022
- 1. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
- 2. Roku Streaming Stick 4K
- 3. Google Chromecast with Google TV
- 4. Apple TV 4K (2021, 32GB)
If you want to stream movies and TV series on apps such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and more, then you don’t need to fork out loads for smart TV. All you need is a little gadget that plugs into a HDMI socket.
They go by many names – streaming sticks, streaming boxes, media players and more – but they all do the same thing. Plug into your TV via HDMI and connect to the internet so you watch a wealth of content. Many of them also have the ability to run other apps and even games.
With many devices costing under £50/$50, they are one of the best value smart home devices you can get.
Here, we round up the best media players and streaming sticks and boxes you can buy that let you watch endless TV shows and films.
0 seconds of 10 minutes, 6 secondsVolume 0%
Best streaming stick and box 2022
The 4K Max is the best Fire TV Stick yet, with improvements including Wi-Fi 6, a faster processor and support for picture-in-picture. If you have a Ring doorbell, the video will appear when someone presses the button, too.
It will deliver 4K resolution at 60Hz, with support for Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and other HDR and surround-sound formats.
The 3rd-gen remote adds more buttons for more TV control, while behind-the-scenes improvements (such as an upgrade to the underlying Android version) mean you’ll now get Atmos from Netflix, and you can control the volume of Bluetooth headphones and speakers using the remote control.
It doesn’t have hands-free Alexa like the more expensive Fire TV Cube, but for only £5/$5 more than the 2018 Stick 4K, it is the best choice if you have a 4K TV. If you only have a 1080p panel, opt for the 3rd-gen Fire Stick.
There are ads on the home screen, and heavy promotion for Amazon-owned content from Prime Video and IMDb TV. But, with a well-stocked app store containing all popular streaming services, it’s not difficult to recommend.Read our full Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max review
The Streaming Stick 4K from Roku brings 4K streaming for an affordable price. The device has a lot going for it including an easy-to-use interface, smooth performance and a decent remote with controls for both the volume and power and voice support.
Roku also offers thousands of hours of free content with The Roku Channel, and a huge range of streaming apps such as Netflix and Disney+.
The Streaming Stick 4K doesn’t have a headphone jack directly on the remote, and the lack of an HDMI extension cable may make setting up a little tricky. However, it does have support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max still has the edge here due to a more tailored and comprehensive homepage. Roku needs to get better at suggesting content and making shows readily available without users having to go directly into apps.
3. Chromecast with Google TV – Best Chromecast
The Chromecast with Google TV is the firm’s best ever streamer. It’s now up there with the best from Amazon. Even if you’re not considering rivals, it’s worth upgrading from an older Chromecast – especially considering that this now has support for Dolby Atmos.
The remote control with Google Assistant and the excellent Google TV interface combine to create a great way to browse and discover content from a range of services and in 4K with wide HDR support, too.
In addition, the device now has support for Google Stadia, so you can use it for gaming as well as streaming.
Whilst the remote doesn’t have a headphone jack, you can connect Bluetooth earphones for private listening. You also can’t switch users on this device.
4. Apple TV 4K (2021) – Best for Apple users
If you have an iOS device, then the latest Apple TV 4K is a compelling choice. The upgraded A12 Bionic chip brings support for high framerate HDR content, and the OS is simple and slick.
The redesigned Siri remote is easy to use, with a mix of click-based controls and swiping. Siri is also included on the remote, so you can control via your voice. There’s also the option to play audio via the HomePod, should you prefer.
However, there’s no escaping the high price, and competition from other media streamers is stiff, too. But, if you’re an iPhone, iPad or Mac user, you’ll love the AirPlay support the Apple TV offers, allowing you to wirelessly stream content from your phone or tablet to the big screen instantly.
5. Amazon Fire TV Stick (2021) – Great streamer with Alexa support
The 3rd-gen Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great-value media streamer
if your TV doesn’t have all the apps you need.
It has support for HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos content, and has an easy-to-use interface with a broad range of apps, including Twitch – which isn’t available on other rivals such as Roku. Of course, Amazon could do with toning down the self-promotion.
The inclusion of Alexa voice support, volume buttons and power buttons on the remote also give you much more control over your TV than the Fire Stick Lite. That said, there’s no 4K support, and the 4K Max Stick doesn’t cost much more.