Updated December 21, 2017 by Sheila O'Neill

The 8 Best Video Streamers

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in September of 2015. While some streaming devices offer a world of features, such as gaming and voice control, others are simple media players that let you load up your favorite apps, such as Netflix or Hulu. We have identified the best streamers available today, and highlighted which of these are 4K and HDR-enabled for providing the best video quality on modern displays. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best video streamer on Amazon.


7. Roku Ultra

6. Amazon Fire TV Stick

5. Minix Neo

4. Apple TV 4K

3. Nvidia Shield

2. Amazon Fire TV

1. Roku Streaming Stick+

Watching Without The Waiting

You not only get television shows and movies, but you can also stream music, music videos, and even download files.

Video streamers have permanently changed the way we watch television by allowing for Video on Demand (VOD) viewing. VOD has existed for the past couple of decades in the forms of pay-per-view and DVR technology. However, video streamers combined with television streaming services have made watching television even more convenient. Video streamers connect to your home or office WiFi connection and are compatible with most HDTVs with HDMI ports.

Video streamers use Internet television via streaming services. Many of the streaming apps are available for free download through an Android app store and can be used with a subscription to the service. You not only get television shows and movies, but you can also stream music, music videos, and even download files. You can upload and view pictures, and some devices even allow for full Internet browsing.

Video streaming players are currently the only devices that support 4K video with the exception of certain smart TVs. This simply means that the horizontal resolution of the picture is around 4,000 pixels. This technology has been used in cinemas for several years but has only recently been made available to the general public.

Most of the video streamers you will find take up less space than your average DVD player and can often be hidden behind the television or inside an entertainment center. Video streamers come with their own remote controls so you can easily sit back and choose what to watch in a few simple clicks. Some even come with USB ports and their own internal storage so you can transfer and store pictures, music, and other media files.

Everyone Is Buying One

There are several factors to consider before you run out and buy your first video streamer. You could go with the first one you see, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will get all of the features you want.

First, consider the available services. You might have access to certain services and apps with one streamer that you can’t get with another.

Third, consider the connections required to operate your video streamer properly.

Second, if you are interested in more than streaming movies and television shows, you will want to consider the file compatibility. If you want to transfer media files such as photos, music, and movies from another device, you will need to make sure that the video streamer is not only capable of transferring these files but has enough storage space to support them.

Third, consider the connections required to operate your video streamer properly. It is entirely possible that the only required connection you will need is an HDMI port. But, just to be safe, read up on the required outputs and inputs before purchasing.

Fourth, take into consideration the interface. Is there a significant learning curve? Or can you get started with streaming your favorite movies and television shows in minutes? Some video streamers are easier to use than others, so check for online screen shots and professional reviews.

Finally, and as always, consider the price. If you only watch the occasional movie or TV show through your favorite streaming service, you probably don’t need to break the bank on a state-of-the-art device with multiple features and vast amounts of storage space. However, if you plan to use your device for regular web browsing, communication, and storage as well as streaming, one of the higher-end models is probably a good bet.

A Brief History of the Video Streamer

Television streaming has been in the works since the 1980s, possibly even earlier. Blockbuster revolutionized the video industry in 1985 when they opened their first video rental store. Only six years later, the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) developed a method for compressing video files onto compact discs. This storage method was eventually improved upon to accommodate digital files.

In 2013, Roku, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV were the top three video streamers on the market and drew new customers at an impressive rate.

In 1995, Sony released the first digital camcorder that allowed the average consumer to transfer video directly from the camera to the computer. This made storage of video files easier and began to eliminate the need for multiple VHS tapes. Two years later, DVDs and DVD players were released for sale to the general public. That same year, Netflix was established after the owner, Reed Hastings, became frustrated with video rental late fees.

In 2005, YouTube hit the Internet scene and changed the world forever. It immediately soared in popularity and was purchased by Google the very next year for $1.65 billion.

The year 2007 marked the beginning of video streamers as we know them. This concept was introduced by none other than Apple and was simply named Apple TV. It promised to eliminate the need for a cable subscription, save money, and allow streaming of movies and television shows directly to the TV.

Because television and movie streaming became popular so quickly, video stores rapidly became a thing of the past. In 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection and was purchased by Dish Network in 2011 who promptly closed the majority of the stores.

YouTube, digital downloads, streaming services, and video streamers are rapidly replacing DVD technology. In 2013, Roku, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV were the top three video streamers on the market and drew new customers at an impressive rate.

Now, video streamers are becoming common household staples, and there are many more options available than before. The average consumer is realizing that streaming is much less expensive than a cable or satellite subscription, and the market is finding it necessary to adjust to meet growing demands.

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Sheila O'Neill
Last updated on December 21, 2017 by Sheila O'Neill

Sheila is a writer and editor living in sunny Southern California. She studied writing and film at State University of New York at Purchase, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree. After graduating, she worked as an assistant video editor at a small film company, then spent a few years doing freelance work, both as a writer and a video editor. During that time, she wrote screenplays and articles, and edited everything from short films to infomercials. An ardent lover of the English language, she can often be found listening to podcasts about etymology and correcting her friends’ grammar.

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