The Complete Guide to Streaming Media Players
Streaming Media Players allow you to stream thousands of TV shows, movies, sports, music, and more from the comfort of your living room. The devices don’t take up much shelf space; some are as small as a USB stick, while others are built into gaming consoles or integrated with a Smart TV. This guide is designed to help you find the device that works best for your life.
Apple TV streams content from many of the well-known services including Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Hulu Plus, but is the only one that streams iTunes. It also works seamlessly with any Apple products you may already own. Whether you’re mirroring your MacBook or displaying photos onto a TV, Apple TV helps to connect all your Apple devices.
Roku offers 1500+ apps (or channels as they are known on Roku –including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora). It boasts a very user-friendly interface. There are a few different models available.
- Roku Streaming Stick
The Roku Streaming Stick is the smallest of the Roku players at around the size of a pack of gum. It comes with a remote and supports all of the same apps as other Roku models.
- Roku 2
The Roku 2 has all of the same features as the Roku Streaming Stick with two major differences. First, the Roku 2 is faster at launching apps and streaming content. And second, there is a headphone jack built into the remote! Just plug and watch TV without disturbing anyone else. It’s a perfect feature for those late-night binges.
- Roku 3
Roku 3 features the fastest processing time to date for Roku’s line of streaming media players. This player features all the great aspects of Roku 2 including the headphone jack in the remote, and it also allows for extra storage via a microSD slot and USB port. Additionally, Roku 3 has an Ethernet port to support both wireless and wired internet connections.
Google Chromecast is the most inexpensive streaming media player on the market. It allows for a wide array of viewing options for one easy reason: all content is streamed directly from your mobile device onto your TV screen, mirroring any content from Netflix to YouTube to web browsing.
Amazon Fire TV
- Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick plugs straight into the HDMI port of an HDTV and provides many of the popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and (of course) Amazon Instant Video. The Fire TV stick also comes with a remote, and offers many games and apps (both free and paid).
You don’t have to be an Amazon Prime Member to enjoy streaming media through Amazon Fire TV, but you’d miss out on some of the features that this device offers.
- Fire TV
The Amazon Fire TV is the set top box version of the Fire TV Stick and has a large selection of apps specifically engineered for this device. Another great feature is the integrated microphone in the remote, allowing for Voice Search to help navigate the content you will encounter.
Nintendo Wii and Wii U, PlayStation 3 and 4, and Xbox 360 and One offer apps like Neflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and more for streaming media. Be sure to check the consoles respective websites for more details and compatibility.
Smart Blu-ray Players
Not quite ready to go 100% streaming media? Then this may be a better option for you. Smart Blu-ray Players offer a variety of streaming services. Most models feature built-in Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to worry about running an Ethernet cable to your router.
For those seeking an all-in-one option, a Smart TV might be the way to go. Smart TVs have streaming media features integrated into the TV itself, eliminating the need for any additional hardware. Smart TVs allow you to surf the web, stream content, and channel surf all on one device with one remote.