The 8 Best Video Streamers
This wiki has been updated 22 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, like Netflix or Hulu. We have identified the best streamers available today, and highlighted which of these have the most intuitive user interfaces and are 4K and HDR-enabled for providing the best video quality on modern displays. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best video streamer on Amazon.
March 24, 2020:
A few of the devices on our previous list received upgrades from their companies, like the Roku Ultra 4570R, which expanded its 4K coverage to include 60 fps playback, and the Amazon Fire Stick 4K, which now supports UHD content. And while the Nvidia Shield Android TV is undoubtedly meant to replace the company's previous Nvidia Shield, it does seem to be a bit of a side step, forgoing the older model's insistence on being a full-fledged gaming device, and instead focusing its processing power on upscaling, so users streaming HD content to UHD screens could enjoy it in 4K resolution.
We also wanted to include a high-quality mini PC on our list this time around, so users could have the option to invest in a steamer that also offers a whole host of other functions on a simple, portable operating system. That's why we went with the Asus Chromebook 3-N020U Mini PC, as its Chrome OS is lightweight enough not to bog it down the way some minis running Windows might be.
Watching Without The Waiting
However, video streamers combined with television streaming services to make watching television even more convenient.
Video streamers have permanently changed the way we watch television by allowing for Video on Demand 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 to make watching television even more convenient.
Video streamers use Internet television via streaming services. Many of the streaming apps are available for free download through an 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 and music videos, and even download files.
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.
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.
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.
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 developed a method for compressing video files onto compact discs. This storage method was eventually improved upon to accommodate digital files.
YouTube, digital downloads, streaming services, and video streamers are rapidly replacing DVD technology.
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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