In days past if you wanted to sit down and watch TV, you were limited by what was playing on the cable stations you subscribed and paid for. Eventually, DVR systems and various playback features gave you a bit more flexibility, but these options were pricy. Today, all you need is one of the best media streamers, and you can literally have thousands of TV shows, movies, apps, and more at your fingertips.
But What Exactly is a Media Streamer?
A media streamer is a small device that brings Internet streaming to your TV. Usually the streaming device will connect to the TV via a USB port, but more and more video game consoles and Blu-ray players have built in streamers. You can control the best media streamers with a provided remote, a provided game controller that functions as a remote, or your smart phone, computer browser, or tablet, depending on the device.
Benefits of Using a Media Streamer
The best media streamers should give you many entertainment options that you would otherwise not have on a television. If you purchase one of the best media streamers, some of the benefits you may receive include:
- Versatility. A Media streamer can connect you with many different streaming platforms. Just about all media streamers are preprogrammed with the major players like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video to name a few.
- Ease of use. Most of the best media streamers have menus that make it simple for you to view the channel selections as well as search for the titles or apps you are looking for. To make it even simpler, some of the best media streamers are even equipped with voice control these days.
- Cost. For less than a couple hundred dollars, you can have your pick of media streamers that will allow you to enjoy countless hours of entertainment. While the upfront cost may seem pricy, it is far less in the long term than many premium subscription services.
Top 5 Best Media Streamers Comparison Guide
Reviews of the Top Rated Media Streamers
Nvidia may be best known for high quality graphics cards, but they also produce one of the best media streamers on the market. The Nvidia Shield Android TV is a fantastic media streamer for the user who wants it all and is willing to pay for it: high quality videos, a wide selection of entertainment options, and gaming options. This media streamer supports high quality resolution, and will even stream in 4K for apps that support it, such as Netflix.
Currently, the Nvidia can display content from over 60 apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO, VUDU, and ESPN. One of the greatest downsides to this device, however, is that it does not currently support Amazon Instant Video, but it may be included in future updates. Additionally, as one might expect from the remote that is a PC video game controller, the Nvidia Shield Android TV will allow you to play a variety of Android games or stream PC games to your TV. If you want to purchase a monthly subscription to GeForce NOW, you can also play an ever-expanding collection of new and classic games. The Nvidia Shield has a few other perks that make it a good buy, such as the ability to plug earbuds or gaming headphones into the game controller so no one else can hear the TV, and voice control capabilities (for the apps that support it). All in all, the Nvidia Shield does everything and more that you could want from a media streamer.
The Roku Streaming Stick is another great media streamer and is perfect for the user who primarily wants to watch on-demand video. This device will give you access to over 3,000 channels, including the popular ones of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, VUDU, and Google Play. Also, because Roku is not owned by any of the major video streamers, your searches will not favor one application over another but instead will show you top results where your search item is free or inexpensive. While this version of Roku’s media streamers is upgraded for less lag and better picture quality, it does not support 4K pictures like the Nvidia Shield or even the Roku 4.
The Roku Streaming Stick comes with a portable USB stick that is plugged into your TV and a remote to control the onscreen menu. The portability of this device makes it a good option if you travel frequently or only want to purchase one media streamer for multiple TVs in your house. The remote, however, tends to have connectivity issues. If resetting the remote is too much trouble for you, you can always use the Roku app on your smart phone or tablet to control the media streamer. While this media streamer does not have the bells and whistles of some other products, it is one of the least expensive and most reliable media streamers on the market.
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