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The Roku interface with Roku Ultra Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan

The Best Streaming Devices of 2022

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The Roku interface with Roku Ultra Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan

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Editor's Choice Product image of Roku Ultra 4802R (2022)
Best Overall

Roku Ultra 4802R (2022)

The latest flagship model of the Roku lineup is easy to use, supports 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos sound, has the best remote, and every app you need. Read More

Pros

  • Top-notch voice remote pro
  • 4K/HDR and Dolby Vision
  • Fast, with wired internet

Cons

  • More expensive than streaming sticks
2
Editor's Choice Product image of Google Chromecast with Google TV
Best Value

Google Chromecast with Google TV

We like that the affordable Google Chromecast supports Android apps, while still letting you cast from a phone, laptop, or anything with a Chrome browser. Read More

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Very good remote
  • 4K/HDR Support

Cons

  • No wired internet
  • Interface needs work
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Editor's Choice Product image of Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)

Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is one of the best you can buy, with a superb remote, plenty of streaming options, 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos, and more. Read More

Pros

  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+
  • Great remote

Cons

  • No Ethernet option
  • No onboard storage
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Editor's Choice Product image of Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple TV 4K (2021)

The Apple TV 4K (2021) has an improved remote and all the bells and whistles you could ask for, making it well worth considering for Apple fans. Read More

Pros

  • Great remote
  • Has Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
  • Works great with Apple gear

Cons

  • Stale design
  • Pricier than competition
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Product image of Roku Express 4K+

Roku Express 4K+

The Roku Express 4K+ isn’t perfect, but in this price range, it’s a serious bargain thanks to its solid interface and excellent smart home support. Read More

Pros

  • Simple interface
  • Excellent smart home support
  • AirPlay 2

Cons

  • No Dolby Vision
  • No headphones jack on remote

We’ve spent years testing (and living with) all the streaming devices, dongles, boxes, and sticks from Amazon, Roku, Google, Apple, and Nvidia, and we're certain that the best streaming device for most people is (still) the Roku Ultra (2022) (available at Amazon for $98.99). The latest Ultra supports 4K and HDR video, offers an intuitive interface, the excellent Voice Remote Pro, and support for every major streaming service. It's the creme de la creme of streaming devices, and we feel the price is worth the quality of the experience.

If you’re looking to save a little bit of money, or you prefer Android, our favorite budget-friendly pick is the redesigned Google Chromecast with Google TV (available at Best Buy) which boasts its own excellent remote, streaming apps, and support for a very wide range of Android apps. But if neither of those are your style, we're certain there's a good streaming device for everyone on our list below.

Here are the best streaming devices we've tested:

  • Roku Ultra (2022)
  • Google Chromecast with Google TV
  • Roku Streaming Stick 4K
  • Apple TV 4K
  • Roku Express 4K+
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube
  • Google Chromecast Ultra
  • Roku Express
Roku is almost entirely platform agnostic, putting your favorite services front-and-center, with few ads and minimal clutter.
Credit: TJ Donegan / Reviewed.com

The Roku Ultra offers everything we want in a streaming box.

Best Overall
Roku Ultra

Though Roku's lineup has undergone some changes in the past few years, the 2022 Roku Ultra is the current flagship model and will be the best option for most people. It supports 4K/HDR (including Dolby Vision), Dolby Atmos sound on select services, and nearly every streaming service, including Apple's own TV app for easy access to Apple movies and other content. Like many Roku devices, it also supports Apple AirPlay and basic HomeKit smart home functionality.

Roku’s interface has become more cluttered with ads than it used to be, though these are primarily for the Roku Channel, a free ad-supported streaming service that includes mostly basic cable-level movies and TV shows. It’s not great, but your favorite apps are still front and center, making it easier than most competitors to move from Netflix to Amazon to Disney+ without getting lost.

Otherwise, the interface looks just like it has for the past few years. It's easy to navigate, and Roku makes it even easier with voice control and dedicated buttons on the remote control for four major streaming services (typically Netflix and some mix of Hulu, Disney+, and a few others).

The Roku Ultra continues to be the easiest to use, with the best remote and nearly every app you want.

The 2022 Ultra's marriage with the Voice Remote Pro makes a great interface even better. As before, it offers dedicated buttons to go straight to the services you probably use most, programmable buttons you can point to other apps or functions, and volume and power buttons for your TV, so you may only need a single remote if you don’t use cable. Additionally, as the name suggests, you can now use your voice to control multiple actions hands-free via the "Hey, Roku" command.

The remote has a finder feature that's easy to trigger from the streamer itself or the Roku app, and a headphone jack so you can plug in any old pair of headphones and instantly have wireless audio for whatever you're streaming—perfect for late-night binge-watching when the kids are in bed. (You can also do this with the Roku app for your smartphone.) And it also now has rechargeable batteries, a huge plus.

Add all of this up and you'll understand why we chose the Ultra for top honors, especially for the price. It's faster than ever, easy to use, has the best remote of any of the devices in this guide, and has access to a wide array of content. Outside of people on a tight budget and those with very specific technical needs, the 2022 Roku Ultra is once again your best bet. Read our full Roku Ultra 2022 review

Pros

  • Top-notch voice remote pro

  • 4K/HDR and Dolby Vision

  • Fast, with wired internet

Cons

  • More expensive than streaming sticks

Google Chromecast with Google TV Hero
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan

The Google Chromecast with Google TV is a top-notch streamer and one of the best values around.

Best Value
Google Chromecast with Google TV

The streaming stick market is a street fight these days, and Google waded right into it with the new Google Chromecast with Google TV. It’s priced practically identically to top competing streaming sticks from Amazon and Roku, and they’re all excellent 4K/HDR-ready streaming devices.

The Google Chromecast with Google TV edges slightly ahead of the Roku sticks this year, mostly thanks to its support for tons of and Android apps, different from the previous Chromecast models (which only let you cast content from a screen). That adds a ton of value.

This model still lets you cast from a phone, laptop, or anything with a Chrome browser, but you also get a remote and a full app-based experience. You also get tighter integration with the Google Assistant, which is a boon for people that rely on Nest and other Google-powered smart devices.

Overall, any of the top streaming sticks on our list are a great bet, but the Chromecast with Google TV does just enough to earn its “Best Value” badge here. Read our full Google Chromecast with Google TV review

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Very good remote

  • 4K/HDR Support

Cons

  • No wired internet

  • Interface needs work


Other Top Streaming Devices We Tested

Product image of Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)
Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is not the first 4K-ready streaming stick from Roku but it's the best one yet. As the name suggests it supports 4K, HDR, and most premium streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, and more. Unlike most other Rokus before it not named the "Ultra," it also supports Dolby Vision HDR (and even its newer rival HDR10+).

As with other streaming sticks, the most notable issue is the lack of wired internet, though in all of our tests it was able to pull down high-quality 4K video without a problem. The trade-off for that is it can be plugged right into the back of your TV and run off the TV's USB power, so you can install it on a wall-mounted TV without running any extra cables.

Like all Rokus, the standout feature (outside the intuitive interface) is the remote. There are actually two versions of the Streaming Stick 4K; the cheaper version that comes with the basic remote and the more expensive Streaming Stick 4K+ that is bundled with Roku's new, rechargeable Voice Remote Pro that works hands-free with voice commands and will play a chime when you can't find it in the cushions.

In either case, this is just as good as the Google Chromecast with Google TV in almost all aspects, and the right choice as a value pick if you prefer Roku's operating system. At this price, you really can't go wrong. Read our full Roku Streaming Stick 4K review

Pros

  • Simple and intuitive interface

  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+

  • Great remote

Cons

  • No Ethernet option

  • No onboard storage

Product image of Apple TV 4K (2021)
Apple TV 4K (2021)

With the new Apple TV 4K (2021), finally got around to fixing the Apple TV’s most glaring flaw: the finicky remote. The updated clicker is thicker, easier to hold, and has a proper directional pad for quickly navigating the linear menus common among streaming services.

The remote also features a dedicated button to summon the voice assistant Siri, as well as a rechargeable battery. It’s slick, easy to use, and has a level of polish uncommon in other plasticky streaming box remotes. Though we’d prefer dedicated buttons to quickly open your favorite streaming apps, we’ll take what we can get if it means the old remote bites the dust.

The rest of the package is largely warmed over from previous generations, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The processor is updated and extremely snappy, Apple’s interface continues to shine with some wonderful screensavers and a full collection of the most popular streaming services, and the box has full Dolby Atmos (including Netflix) and Dolby Vision support.

The main drawback here remains the price. With an MSRP of $179.99 ($199 if you opt for an extra 32GB of storage), the Apple TV 4K is still 2-3x as expensive as its competition. The “Apple tax” isn’t uncommon, and it’s fine when Apple is offering a markedly improved experience, enhanced privacy, or features and apps you can’t get anywhere else. For the most part, that isn’t the case here.

When it comes to streaming, all the major services are on Roku, Google, and Fire TV (temporary contract disputes aside), all of the top picks on our list get you HDR (including Dolby Vision) and Dolby Atmos support, and we still prefer the remotes on competing devices. The Apple TV 4K is a beautiful addition to a home that has all-Apple-everything—especially handy if you use HomeKit smart devices—but for most folks, there's better value to be had elsewhere. Read our full Apple TV 4K (2021) review

Pros

  • Great remote

  • Has Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos

  • Works great with Apple gear

Cons

  • Stale design

  • Pricier than competition

Product image of Roku Express 4K+
Roku Express 4K+

The Roku Express has changed forms several times in the last few years, going from a slightly lower-end version of the Roku Ultra to a slightly higher-end take on Roku’s Premiere.

The latest version sits between the Roku Streaming Stick 4K—offering a bulkier design—and the HD-only Express in the Roku family. While you're not saving a ton of cash over the Streaming Stick 4K, you do get good value here, including 4K, HDR (though not Dolby Vision), and Dolby Atmos sound on select services with a compatible TV and audio system.

In fact, apart from the form factor and Wi-Fi antenna, there's very little difference between this device and Roku's stick models. With the Express 4K+ you're getting the same platform, a Bluetooth voice remote, and AirPlay and HomeKit support as other models for a bit less cash. While the Streaming Stick 4K is our preferred choice, if you don't mind giving up Dolby Vision (and a stick form factor), the Express 4K+ should do you just fine. Read our full Roku Express 4K+ review

Pros

  • Simple interface

  • Excellent smart home support

  • AirPlay 2

Cons

  • No Dolby Vision

  • No headphones jack on remote

Product image of Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote (2019)
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote (2019)

If you are big into Alexa and Amazon Prime Video, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is an excellent, budget-friendly choice. It supports 4K (HDR10 and Dolby Vision), Dolby Atmos sound (though, like Roku devices, Netflix Atmos titles are not supported), and it ships with an excellent remote control that supports voice searching and control of all your Alexa-compatible devices.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K supports the majority of streaming options out there, including newer services like Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+, and starting in late June 2021, NBC's Peacock.

Our major reason for preferring the Roku Streaming Stick+ over the Fire TV Stick 4K is Roku’s agnostic platform. Though Roku has added significantly more ads over the years, Amazon still highlights its top shows and movies (including rentals you need to pay for) above other services. It’s a minor note, but when every streaming stick and service is relatively similar, the little things add up.

Still, if you want a streaming stick form factor, a remote, and support for Dolby Vision HDR, this is your best bet.

Pros

  • Supports all major streaming services

  • Excellent remote

Cons

  • Favors Amazon content

Product image of Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen)
Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen)

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is a bit of an odd duck in the streaming market. The main thing that sets it apart is its support for hands-free Alexa control (without needing to use the remote or another Echo speaker) and its built-in infrared blasters.

Theoretically, this gives the Fire TV Cube the ability to control (via Alexa) your smart devices, your legacy devices like A/V receivers through their infrared remote ports, and your TV through the HDMI cable. Though it works well for some people and setups, we’ve had difficulty getting it to fully respond during testing.

When everything works, it’s really cool to tell Alexa to dim your lights, check the weather, change the channel, close your smart blinds, water your lawn, and stream Netflix without lifting a finger. But too often we were stuck repeating ourselves or having to give up and just change something manually.

For its higher price, it’s a tough sell. The Roku Ultra costs about the same (or less) and has all the same support for major streaming services. Though Roku’s voice search isn’t as powerful as Alexa, it’s nearly as reliable for finding stuff to watch and the extra features like a button to find a lost remote and use headphones wirelessly are too much to pass up.

Pros

  • Able to control all your smart devices

Cons

  • Unreliable voice control

  • Expensive

Product image of Google Chromecast Ultra
Google Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra isn’t a bad streaming device by any means and Google Assistant makes it easy to navigate. It supports a huge array of services, thanks to its unique ability to act as a bridge between your phone, tablet, or laptop and your TV; just stream something on a device, hit the cast icon, and you can send it right to your TV.

The Ultra supports 4K, HDR (including Dolby Vision), and Dolby Atmos but because it lacks a traditional interface and operating system (it acts more like a web browser, fetching the content you tell it to), support can be spotty depending on services. Google remedied this in the cheaper Google Chromecast with Google TV, which also supports all those features.

As a result, we don’t think most people should bother with the Chromecast Ultra unless you need its casting ability and don’t want to use less elegant versions of it such as the screen mirroring function on Roku. It does work well with Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia, though the cheaper Chromecast with Google TV offers this as well.

Casting is still a neat feature and makes having a Chromecast a nice backup solution (including the cheaper 1080p Chromecast) but for the same price, you can get a better all-around streaming gadget elsewhere.

Pros

  • Good backup device

Cons

  • Spotty support of 4K, HDR, and Dolby

Product image of Roku Express 3930R
Roku Express

The very entry-level model in Roku’s lineup is the Express, and it offers a very barebones experience. Though you do get Roku’s excellent, clicky remote, it does not support voice searching or wireless listening, and it doesn’t have buttons to control your TV’s power or volume.

The platform is fully featured, so you are getting access to all the same streaming services, but the device maxes out at 1080p video. The box itself is quite small, so it’s a nice option for a second bedroom, den, or kitchen TV where you just want streaming support and don’t care about the high-end options like 4K, HDR, and more.

Just note that, unlike some earlier models of the Roku Express line, this model requires an HDMI port to connect. It includes the cable, but if you have an older TV or A/V setup that requires separate analog RCA jacks, this box no longer supports that.

For most people, it’s worth the extra money to jump up to the Streaming Stick+ or Express 4K+, but if you’re on a tight budget or just don’t mind the missing features, this is a viable alternative.

Pros

  • Access to Roku's full platform

Cons

  • Remote lacks voice-control, power/volume buttons

  • Video maxes at 1080p

  • Requires HDMI


How We Test Streaming Devices

The Tester

Hi, my name is TJ Donegan. I'm an Executive Editor at Reviewed and have been testing consumer electronics for a decade. In my time at Reviewed I’ve covered cameras, tablets, smartphones, televisions, laptops, headphones, and—of course—streaming boxes.

My personal experience with streaming boxes stretches back to the earliest days of the Roku, and I personally own a streaming device from every major manufacturer. Though I still have a cable subscription, the majority of my own TV diet includes Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Now/Max, and I frequently switch to live TV services like Youtube TV and Sling TV for months at a time.

The Tests

These days, nearly every streaming device has access to most major streaming services. To that end, our tests focus primarily on the hardware—the remote, the device itself, how it connects to your TV, how fast it is and how it feels to use it. On the software side, we also evaluate things like ease of use, the presence of ads, the ability to use things like voice search to discover content, and any other relevant features such as the ability for the device to install and use mobile apps.

Our goal is to find the best possible streaming box for most people. Though there are a few devices that are more specialized if you’re into, say, PC gaming, our top pick is based on what we think is the best option for the vast majority of people streaming TV and movies.

What You Need To Know About Streaming Devices

There are a few key things to keep in mind when selecting a streaming box or streaming stick. The first is making sure you get a device that works with your TV.

Do You Need a 4K Streaming Device If You Don’t Have a 4K TV?

In short, yes. Almost every new TV is going to come with a 4K screen these days, which means that it has four times as many pixels as older 1080p Full HD screens. Nearly every device on this list supports 4K (and it’ll say so on the box and in the model name, typically).

Even if you don’t have a 4K TV yet, you’re likely to have one at some point and it’s not worth pinching pennies on a 1080p device just to have to replace it with a 4K-ready one later.

Do the Roku, Apple TV, or Fire TV support HDR?

While 4K is fairly simple, HDR (or High Dynamic Range) is much more complex. Basically, it is a format that lets your TV adapt to make part of the screen brighter or darker depending on what is playing. This in turn affects the color shading and vibrancy, allowing the best TVs to better display the attributes that make great video content sing.

HDR TVs also typically support wider color gamuts, meaning you get more vivid colors that are beyond what older TVs were capable of displaying. There is a lot of detail we’re skipping here, but in a nutshell, if you have an HDR TV you’ll want a streaming box that supports HDR so you can get the most out of it.

4K devices from Roku, Apple, Chromecast, and Fire TV support HDR with supported TVs. As long as you are using any newer HDMI cable, you should be able to just play HDR content through these boxes without having to change anything in the menus. That said, only some of those devices support Dolby Vision HDR, which we'll discuss in more detail below.

Dolby Vision HDR vs HDR10: Which is Better?

Among picture purists, Dolby Vision has a slightly better reputation, but both formats are evolving and have their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, a newer version of HDR10, HDR10+, is on the move in hopes of upending Dolby Vision's place at the top of videophiles' lists, but for now, it's a two-way race between HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and not all streaming devices support both formats.

HDR10 is supported by every HDR streaming device, but Dolby Vision is only found on select on;y a few devices of the devices in this guide. The same is generally true for HDR TVs. The majority support HDR10, while some also support Dolby Vision. You’ll need a TV that supports Dolby Vision to utilize it, so if your TV only supports HDR10, Dolby Vision shouldn’t be a concern.

Is My Privacy Secure with a TV Streaming Device?

Reviewed takes data privacy extremely seriously, and unfortunately, most streaming services do not. In most cases, you can opt out by going to your streaming device's account or settings pages and navigating to the section on privacy. After doing so, you may still see ads and such, but at least the streaming box manufacturer and their partners won't be able to track and monetize your viewing habits.

Just be aware that each streaming service may have its own ad tracking built-in, and this is often not something you can avoid.

Which Streaming Device is Best for Netflix?

We don’t typically evaluate each streaming box for how well they handle any individual service, the Roku Ultra is the best for Netflix in our opinion. Though the app experience isn’t any better than on other devices, the ability to plug into ethernet for a stutter-free experience at a still-excellent price puts this over the top for us. It also comes standard with the Voice Remote Pro, our favorite remote on the block.

It's a small win, and any of our top choices will be great options for Netflix and any other streaming services, but the Ultra experience and pricing make it our go-to pick here.

Which Streaming Devices Support Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is a fancy audio codec that promises even more immersive sound than traditional surround sound if you have an audio system like a Dolby Atmos soundbar and other hardware to take advantage of it. This differs from Dolby Vision HDR, which exclusively refers to the picture format. Support for Atmos does not guarantee support for Dolby Vision.

Many of the models we have tested support Dolby Atmos sound. Occasionally, select apps will fail to pass it through properly on some devices and you may need to have other compatible equipment to handle the conversion, along with Atmos-compatible speakers or soundbars. You can learn more about Dolby Atmos and how to get it in our comprehensive Dolby Atmos guide.


Meet the testers

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews
Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor - Electronics

@ryanwaniata

Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.

See all of Ryan Waniata's reviews

Checking our work.

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