Despite the grueling 2020 ushering content consumers into a world full of streaming-specific possibilities, finding the best resource for entertainment is still an overwhelming experience for most. While some prefer Smart televisions, despite the substantial initial investment, my loyalties are heavily stacked towards streaming devices, namely Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, and more.
Regardless of the device, you choose to purchase, be rest assured that almost every streaming device currently retailing in mentioned space is positioned perfectly for following a substantiated, content-first approach. Although the prices might vary, the market-moving performance is pretty much a customary walk in the park.
While I have faith in every stick or device there is, the digitally distinct, post-pandemic era beckons us to be a bit more thoughtful about the selections. Therefore, in the subsequent sections, I shall only be talking about 5 of the most promising streaming gadgets and sticks that are expected to seize every possibility in the near future to expand their presence and speed up the acceleration journey, entailing this content-first era.
- Roku Stick+
Here is a streaming stick that has been making all the noise for the past few months. Despite being one of the more affordable products on the list, it comes with the widest possible collection of promising streaming choices. Plus, the plug-and-play approach cannot be any easier to understand.
If you are strictly into numbers, the Streaming stick is replete with over 500,000 chartbusters, TV shows, and other pieces of content. But then, it is the platform-agnostic approach, which makes experts advocate this product. The universal search returns accurate and unbiased results, something that I put to test while looking for my weekend binge.
Also, Roku makes a dramatic shift from conventionalism and subtly accommodates select IPTV services, AirPlay 2 support, and provisioning for HDR and 4K content, should you have the requisite internet bandwidth for the same.
Finally, it is the Voice Support that takes center stage, especially for users with connected homes.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
Nothing beats the Fire TV Stick when content-specific options and possibilities are concerned. While the interface is as simple as you can imagine, it is the ability of this streaming device to sideload truckloads of third-party applications despite conforming to the specific platform that makes it special.
In fact, the Fire TV Stick allows you to enjoy the likes of Hulu, YouTube TV, HBO Max, and more, if you are ready to jailbreak the device and sideload these resources, via minor workarounds.
But then, if you are unaware as to how Jailbreaking works and how the workarounds can actually be of use, this blog includes how to play around with your jailbroken FireStick and deploy it for enjoying platform-independent content.
Finally, the Fire TV Stick also proffers a completely new perspective towards device control with its Alexa-powered remote control.
For years, Chromecast from Google came without a dedicated remote. But then, 2021 is indeed a year of surprises as now you can find one, not with just a fully functional remote control but the device ushering in a revitalized interface that has the Google Assistant looking over it.
While the Roku and Firestick are better placed when content diversity is concerned, the Google Chromecast is specifically meant for users who prefer robust controls, better voice support, and a customized interface.
However, these features only comprise the tip of the iceberg and I am most upbeat for the invigorating Google TV that comes along, albeit as a restructured version of the Android television. The existing interface offers insane levels of customization by securing a rotating carousel for you to watch curated picks, trending shows, and whatnot.
The Chromecast, quite appropriately, misses out on AirPlay 2 but is more than capable of supporting 4K HDR content and even the Dolby Vision experience.
- Roku Express
If you are seeking affordability and the perfect cost-to-ownership ratio, the Roku Express seems like a pretty attested choice. While the interface resembles that of the Roku Stick+, the Express trims down a few bells and whistles to make the device more economical.
While you miss out on HDR and 4K content coverage, you still have access to an expansive array of movies and TV shows, with quite a few curated and handpicked, based on the viewing trends and preferences.
- Apple TV 4K
Are you wondering why the Apple TV 4K features last on the list? If yes, then you have the price to blame. Apparently, despite the overwhelming price tag, the Apple TV 4K still promises a lot and readily justifies every buck you spend on it. Starting from the appropriate support for AirPlay 2 to be able to broadcast content in 4K HDR, there is absolutely nothing that this streaming device cannot do.
Plus, the tvOS interface is one of the more balanced ones around and allows you to be flexible with the channel search and Siri-powered searches. But that’s not what you should consider this streaming device for. If you are deep into the Apple Ecosystem i.e. have access to a MacBook, iPhone, iPad, or more, having the TV 4K from Apple makes sense as it is the only device that can work with the entire gamut of gadgets.
The list doesn’t end here as the NVIDIA Shield, Roku Ultra, Firestick Lite, and some of the other streaming devices also deserve honorary mentions. However, despite the extended offerings, reliable specifications, and start-of-art streaming options, the experts are putting their bets on 5 of the mention gadgets that have the potential of usurping the advent of Smart TVs and realigning the content streaming platform in an era where home-bound entertainment seems like the new normal.