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Best streaming devices of 2024

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A remote control and HDMI stick on a wavy background
Here's a New Years resolution you won't regret: Smarten up your home theater and kick that cable contract to the curb. (Photo: Amazon)

One of the many reasons for a happy 2024? The days of needing a cable subscription and forking over untold hundreds of dollars for Blu-rays are gone! Now, all the good stuff is available via streaming platforms, and you don’t need a set-top box or even a new TV to enjoy it. All you need is a streaming device. Connect it to your set, typically via a basic HDMI connection, and you can immediately settle in and binge all the movies, series, comedy specials and the like that your eyeballs can handle.

Ah, but which streaming device to buy? Lucky for you, we've tested some of them out on our own TVs to see which are the best of the best. Below, we share all the info to help you choose the top pick for your smart home theater.

Some of our favorite streaming devices are also some of the most affordable — i.e. Rokus. The software is super easy to use, with a friendly home screen, and it’s compatible with all the major streamers — we’re talking Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO Max and more.

$30 at Amazon
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$30 at Lowe's$49 at QVC

The Roku Express 4K+ packs a ton of perks and functionality at a great price. It’s one of the cheapest streaming boxes with 4K HDR capabilities, and it supports the Apple ecosystem and Airplay format too.

“I am so incredibly impressed!!!" exclaimed the writer of one happy five-star review. "I have an old, large Samsung TV in my bedroom my dad got for free. I’ve had this TV with an older Roku for years. It began not working right and began really laggy. I went out and bought a new smaller Vizio TV, and it performed terribly, and I returned it in a day. I decided to try this Roku on my old Samsung TV. All I have to say is: OMG. This made my TV perform like new and saved me a ton of money. If you are in a similar situation as me or looking for a great alternative, don’t hesitate, try this Roku. It’s incredible for the money, the picture and quality are like brand-new, and it performs very fast. I am 21, and I don’t write reviews often, but I had to for this one.”

If you like Roku devices but prefer a stick design, this is the unt for you. It offers all the features of the Express 4K+ and adds Dolby Vision HDR support.

$34 at Amazon
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$35 at Staples$35 at Target

One big plus of the Streaming Stick 4K? Its wireless receiver is built for distance, so it’ll work in rooms that are nowhere near your router. We also like the hands-free voice remote, which lets you use voice controls. No worries if you lose the TV remote in the couch cushions, either — you can voice-search for it via Roku, and it’ll start beeping away.

One five-star reviewer said: "I went from using my old Samsung smart DVD player with a very limited app selection to this Roku Streaming Stick 4K+, with literally any app I could ever want. I love I can just add apps using my TV, computer, or phone. The stick is out of sight; plugged into the HDMI port behind my TV. I didn't realize until I had it delivered that it has to be plugged in for its own power, however, I am able to power it using the USB port, which is also behind my TV. The remote is also very impressive. It is simple and easy to use but also very capable. The price is very reasonable, especially compared to other streaming devices."

The Chromecast dongle with Google TV is a fantastic choice for those who live in the Google ecosystem. Also: It'll give you the opportunity to say dongle on a regular basis!

$49 at Amazon
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$50 at Verizon$50 at Walmart

We absolutely love the Google Assistant voice search on Google Chromecast; you can look up movies and shows by searching the actors' names, for example. We also like that this Google TV device integrates with Google Photos — you can add your favorite pics to a revolving slideshow! If you're a fan of YouTube or YouTube TV, this is the streamer for you.

"This was easy to set up and install!" said this Chromecast customer. "I had a TV that didn't even have a remote control that worked, and this replaced my old Fire Stick, and now I can turn on the TV, watch all my streaming apps and a cast from my phone, both Android and Apple, to the TV with ease! Power mute volume etc. ... All work with one device and one remote! If you don't have a smart TV with casting capabilities ... buy this! You won't regret it."

If you live in an Alexa household, you might want to go with a Fire TV product instead. This one's our fave.

$40 at Amazon
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$40 at Kohl's$40 at Target

The 4K Max supports Dolby Vision and has a neat picture-in-picture feature for viewing your security camera feed. And, of course, Alexa's on board to make your viewing choices happen and to handle all your content-search needs. This is the way to go if you’re a big Amazon Prime fan.

"The new Fire Stick is a major improvement compared to the older versions," said this happy shopper. "Easy to install, easy to move your content from your old Fire Stick. The price is great. I advise doing a trade-in of the older version; once the trade-in is complete, the price isn’t bad at all. Highly recommend upgrading all older versions of Fire Stick for the new and improved version. Wi-Fi 6 is a great enhancement, no buffering issues thus far! 4K HDR looks amazing on my brand-new 65” LG! Completely happy with this new Fire TV Stick. Remote has major changes! Easily access Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and of course Amazon Prime Video. Voice recognition is great — Alexa finds it for you."

THE go-to component for Apple device enthusiasts. As is typical of the brand, its user interface is considerably sleeker than its competitors', and the remote has been updated to streamline your on-screen navigation.

$125 at Adorama
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$128 at Walmart$130 at Verizon

You can also ask Siri, “What did they just say?” while watching a movie, and it will replay the scene with subtitles. Apple TV is also a media streaming device for gamers via Apple Arcade, or if you want native support for Apple’s Fitness+ workout program.

"My experience with a regular Apple TV has been a bit life-changing," said one enthusiastic shopper, who calls it a fantastic Apple product. "Smart TV apps are essentially universally lousy and don’t guarantee 4K quality (at least with LG), so I was instantly gratified the moment I got this 4K Apple TV set up. My TV is finally living up to its 4K potential! Setup was amazingly easy, as it is generally across all of the Apple product line. The new all-metal remote design is thicker and heavier than the older gen and feels good in the hand. Button ergonomics have been improved as well. Great value, great product."

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.