What is the Best Streaming Media Player ? | 2018September 10, 2018
Streaming has taken over the world, Netflix, Hulu, Stan, Prime Video and the list goes on. If you don’t have a Smart TV or your Smart TV is limited to the apps you can install, a Streaming Media Player is what you need. Today we are going to discuss a few of them and hopefully answer the question, What is the Best Streaming Media Player?
As always, I will weigh up the pros and cons of each and I will give you my opinion on which Streaming Media Player is the Best Overall and Best Value for money. Keep in mind these opinions are mine and like most tech opinions, subjective and individual.
Fire TV Stick
It seems like nowadays Amazon has their finger in everything and streaming media is no exception, The Fire TV Stick is essential if you are deep in the Amazon ecosystem. You get access to tens of thousands of channels such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, NBC and if you have an Amazon Prime membership you also gain access to Prime Video. One of the draw backs of this entry level device is the lack of 4K streaming, with 4K TVs becoming more and more affordable if you do decide to upgrade to a 4K TV you would have to invest in another streaming device
It’s very easy to set up, All you need to do is plug it into the HDMI slot on your TV and plug in the USB to provide power and you are good to go. The UI is intuitive and you initially have access to Amazon and Netflix services, every other service can be downloaded and accessed through the Apps menu. The Fire TV Sticks party trick is the inclusion of an Alexa button on the remote, all you have to do is hold down the button and you can navigate the UI with the use of Alexa. Alexa has a lot of functionality, personally I think that functionality is limited here unless you are using it specifically on Netflix or Amazon service, if you are using any other App its better to just navigate using the remote.
Amazons entry into the budget media streaming space is a valiant one, for the price its hard to go past but you will be limited in the functionality of Alexa and the lack of 4K output.
The Roku Express is Rokus entry level streaming device, much like the Fire Stick TV you get access to all the channels mentioned above including Prime Video. If you want 4K video I’d pay a little extra and go the Roku Streaming Stick+, If you don’t have a 4K TV then stick with the Express.
Similar set up to the Fire Stick, just plug into the HDMI port and plug in the USB for power. The Roku express also isn’t like other traditional streaming sticks, instead of conveniently hiding behind your TV, this little box needs to be in front or below your TV, in your line of sight, im not the biggest fan of this approach. The UI is a little dated compared to others but is snappy enough as long as you have a decent Wi-Fi connection. Note – All streaming devices require a decent WiFi connection to perform optimally!. The express also has basic voice command functionality built in
For returning Roku Express customers, Roku boasts that this model is 5x faster than the previous model and all reviews out there can confirm that it is in fact a lot faster than the previous model. I haven’t experienced the previous model so I have nothing to compare it to.
If the Fire TV Stick and the Roku Express are entry level budget streamers, then the Nvidia Shield is the high end option. You get access to all channels mentioned previously and the ability to stream in 4K. The shields party piece is its ability to stream console and PC games as well as player games from the Google Play Store natively.
The design of the Shield is very edgy and styled with a gaming aesthetic. It is easily the biggest device on the list and simultaneous the best to look at. In the box you get a remote and gaming controller as standard. The Shield runs Android Oreo as standard and comes with Google Assistant making interaction with the UI fluid and easy to use. When you connect the Shield to your network you can actually use this box as a control center for all the smart things you have connected to your Google Home App, or just use Google Assistant to Play, Pause and Search. The Nvidia Shield has the unique ability to become a bit of a gaming console when paired with “Gamestream”, you can stream games installed on your computer as long as your computer has an Nvidia GPU.
The Shield has enough features in it to warrant its own review ( COMING SOON ), but for the purpose of this article we I have covered most of the more important features in relation to using this device as a streaming box. The Nvidia Shield is the best 4K streaming box on the market, if you want a box that can handle whatever you throw at it, the Nvidia Shield is for you.
Apple TV 4K
It would be unfair to have the Nvidia Shield alone in the category of “very expensive streaming boxes”, the Apple TV Gen 4 is just as pricey. If you are firmly in the Apple Ecosystem the Apple TV is a no brainer when it comes to your 4K streaming options. Like all the other streaming option above, you will have access to Tens of Thousands of channels and a handy new addition, Amazon Video.
Being a Gen 4 device the Apple TV has the advantage of being honed 3 times previously. If you a familiar with the Apple TV not much has changed aesthetically, Internally is where all the changes have been made to allow for 4K streaming and a more fluid UI experience. The remote comes with Siri as standard and can be used to navigate via the touch pad or voice command. This box is a beast when it comes to 4K content and has access to Apples ITunes store as well. There are a few gaming options should you feel the need to kill some time, and the ability to mirror and upscale almost any Apple Device makes this a great addition to your Apple arsenal.
If you aren’t in the Apple Ecosystem I wouldn’t recommend the Apple TV 4K, If you are and you don’t mind spending more money than you have too, the Apple TV 4K is a great addition.
In my opinion the winner of Best Overall has to go to the Nvidia Shield, as far as Streaming Media Players go, the Shield wears numerous hats. It is a powerful 4K streaming device, smart home control hub and competent gaming console. It may be expensive but if you don’t have any streaming devices and a 4K TV, it’s hard to ignore
Best Value for Money
The Roku Express is the best value for Streaming Media Player, most people don’t own 4K TV’s yet and 1080p output is super crispy on most TV’s. It is portable and super affordable, personally I have 2 of these in multiple rooms in my house and I recommend if you are going to pick up the Roku Express grab 2 or 3 so you don’t have to move it or worry about the kids stealing it.
Do you own any Streaming Media Player? If so, Which one do you have? Comment below and let me know.