I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like this, but I got sick of watching my cable bill go up and up every year. I got sucked in by a cut rate, and before I knew it, I was paying triple what I signed up for.
To cut costs, my husband and I decided to get rid of cable and use a combination of streaming services to cover everything we watch. But you can’t stream everything on just any old TV. You need a stick or a box. We looked into several devices for streaming TV and movies. We searched websites, like PC Magazine, CNET and Tom’s Guide. These devices for streaming TV were the stand-outs. (I’m assuming you already have a TV that has ports that will accept boxes or sticks.)
At the end of this post, I tell you which streaming devices and services we ended up buying.
Disclosure: This blog post has affiliate links. Media Medusa makes a small commission, at no cost to you, when you purchase something through these links.
#1 Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku started out in box form. You can still get a Roku box, but the Roku Streaming Stick+ is powerful and mobile and less expensive than the box.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ has two things going for it. First, it can connect to your router from far away. Watching TV in the second floor bedroom is a lot easier. Second, the remote is voice-activated. That was possibly my favorite thing about having Comcast because the voice-activated remote made finding a show incredibly easy. The Roku Streaming Stick+ makes navigating the menu very simple.
#2 Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
The beauty of having an Amazon Fire TV Stick is that you can easily order TV shows and movies using your Amazon Prime account. It’s all connected. You can also easily see your library of shows you’ve already ordered. And like any good Amazon product, Amazon has lots of recommendations and new releases for you to check out.
The Alexa-enabled voice remote makes searching and commanding the TV a snap. Just press and hold a button, say what you want, and off it goes. We bought my parents an Amazon Fire TV stick years ago because they loved our voice-enabled Xfinity remote. They feel pretty tech savvy when they use it.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote is also one of the most affordable options on this list.
#3 Apple TV 4K
If you’re an Apple fan through and through, then the Apple TV 4K is the choice for you. Just like a Fire TV device can access someone’s Amazon library, the Apple TV 4K is connected to your iTunes account. Every movie and TV show you buy on iTunes is available to watch in 4K, which is 2x the usual amount of pixels. (It’s an incredible picture.)
The Apple TV 4K has a few downsides. The first is its price. It’s about $100 more than anything else on this list (on average). It’s more expensive because of the 4K picture. Second, its app choices are more limited than other devices. And third, the remote/menu is tricky to use. My husband and I have a heck of a time navigating the menus. But these inconveniences are outweighed by its picture quality and iTunes ease of use.
#4 Google Chromecast
The Google Chromecast remains one of the most popular devices for streaming TV. Google has as many loyal followers as Apple, and they’re happy to snap up a Chromecast.
Like a stick, it plugs into your TV. Unlike a stick, you don’t need to sign up for a special streaming service. Just play a TV show or movie on your phone or tablet, and the Google Chromecast will stream it onto your TV. That also means, however, that it doesn’t offer a variety of apps and other fun things that other devices do.
The Chromecast is very inexpensive too. One of the reasons it’s cheap is because it doesn’t come with a remote. You just use your mobile device to navigate the menus. Nifty, huh?
#5 Roku Express
This basic version of Roku is the best option if you’re new to the streaming TV game. Roku Express is super cheap and super easy to use. Because it doesn’t come with a bunch of bells and whistles, it’s very easy to navigate and use. The Roku Express is also great for secondary TVs that aren’t on cable.
Although Roku Express is easy to use, it’s still very powerful. It has five times the reach and speed that previous models did. And it offers just as many apps as its Roku counterparts.
What We Bought
Let me say right up front that my husband is a gadget guy. That means we have more gadgets than we necessarily need for streaming TV. However, we’re entertainment junkies (duh, the blog?) so we’re happy to be able to watch pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want.
Apple TV 4K – Although I buy all my movies and TV from Amazon Prime, we access DirectTV Now through the Apple TV 4K box. And, we have some movies and TV shows on iTunes from the years before Amazon beefed up its library. We also appreciate the high definition picture.
TiVo Roamio – I didn’t list the TiVo as one of the top five because, by itself, it’s not one of the best streaming devices to get. It’s also expensive. Plus, we had to have a big ol’ antenna installed in our attic. (If we put it on the roof, our neighbors would not approve.) However, after getting rid of Comcast, we needed a DVR for broadcast TV shows (like the CW shows and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). We use the TiVo to stream and record some of our TV shows.
Xbox One – Although Netflix and Amazon Prime are available on some of our other devices, we use the Xbox One pretty frequently. Now, we didn’t buy the Xbox One specifically for TV. We’ve owned it since it was released. So, we’ve been watching streaming TV on it for some time. However, we couldn’t get broadcast networks, cable networks or DVR on it.
What did you do when you cut the cord? Tell me in the comments!