Best Streaming Media Players

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 29, 2017
Bring a new life to your TV set by widening its options! With a streaming media player, you will expand the number of channels and acquire a lot of magnificent features to enhance your TV-watching experience. And we will gladly help you choose the best streaming device among those offered! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
FORM-FACTOR & ADDITIONAL MODES
PROCESSOR & GPU
RAM
STORAGE
OPERATING SYSTEM
INCLUDED APPS
MAX RESOLUTION
SUPPORTED FORMATS
INTERFACES
WIRELESS
REMOTE
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER OS
WARRANTY
 
PROS
Roku 4 streaming media player is easily set up via your Roku account. The remote has a headphones slot and includes a feature to find it automatically in a room. The streaming media player catches 2500+ streaming video channels, and you can search a movie by its name, actors, or director.
CONS
Can heat up when used intensely.
OUR VERDICT
Buying this Roku media player, you will obtain magnificent features like watching Ultra HD videos from a wide variety of popular Internet applications and services.
detailed parameters
FORM-FACTOR & ADDITIONAL MODES
Desktop / Gaming
PROCESSOR & GPU
Quad-core ARM processor
RAM
1.5 GB
STORAGE
256 MB
OPERATING SYSTEM
Roku OS 7
INCLUDED APPS
Netflix Amazon Prime YouTube Hulu
MAX RESOLUTION
4K UHD (3840 × 2160)
SUPPORTED FORMATS
MP4, MKV, HEVC, MP3, Apple Lossless, WMA, AAC, JPG, PNG
INTERFACES
1x USB port 1x Ethernet 1x HDMI 1x Optical 1x MicroSD card port
WIRELESS
802.11ac MIMO Dual-Band Wi-Fi
REMOTE
Enhanced remote with voice search and headphone jack
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER OS
iOS 7.0 and higher, Android 2.3 and higher, Windows 8.1 and 10
WARRANTY
1 year
PROS
This model of a Matricom streaming media mini PC employs a full Amazon Prime support. The powerful integrated 8-core processor will provide an excellent performance of your video and Android 3D games. Plus, the gaming console features a coder to work better with Kodi Media Centre.
CONS
The remote control shipped with the device may appear slightly inconvenient.
OUR VERDICT
One of the best streaming devices to watch high-quality videos. It supports displaying of 3D images and a large number of Google Play apps.
detailed parameters
FORM-FACTOR & ADDITIONAL MODES
Desktop / Console
PROCESSOR & GPU
Amlogic s812 quad-core 2GHz Integrated Mali-450 3D Octocore GPU
RAM
2 GB
STORAGE
16 GB
OPERATING SYSTEM
Android 5 (Lollipop)
INCLUDED APPS
Kodi Media Center Amazon Prime Google Play Store HUD Launcher UI
MAX RESOLUTION
4K UHD (3840 × 2160)
SUPPORTED FORMATS
MP4, MKV, HEVC, MP3, WMA, AAC, JPG, PNG
INTERFACES
2 х USB 2.0 1x Ethernet 1x HDMI 1x Optical
WIRELESS
Wi-Fi (Broadcom 5G 802.11 Dual-Band), Bluetooth (V.4.0 Low Power, Full Speed)
REMOTE
Matricom remote
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER OS
Android 5.0 and higher
WARRANTY
1 year
PROS
You can add the media player's memory up to 200GB. Also, there is the Alexa voice service that adapts to your speech mannerisms or can be adjusted to your liking. Finally, the parental control will help you control what your children watch (up to 4 profiles).
CONS
The battery compartment on the RC might be hard to open.
OUR VERDICT
One of the best media players when it comes to the price-to-quality ratio. At a moderate price, you obtain practically unlimited options for watching high-resolution video and playing a variety of games.
detailed parameters
FORM-FACTOR & ADDITIONAL MODES
Desktop / Console
PROCESSOR & GPU
MediaTek Quad-core: Dual-core 2.0 GHz + Dual-core 1.6 GHz / Power VR GX6250
RAM
2 GB
STORAGE
8 GB
OPERATING SYSTEM
Android-based Fire OS
INCLUDED APPS
Netflix X-Ray Hulu Amazon Video HBO GO Showtime ESPN
MAX RESOLUTION
4K UHD (3840 × 2160)
SUPPORTED FORMATS
H.265, H.264, AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3, FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, Dolby Atmos, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
INTERFACES
1x USB 2.0 1x Ethernet 1x HDMI 1x DC Jack 1x microSD
WIRELESS
Wi-Fi (Dual-Band 802.11ac MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1 + LE (HID, HFP, SPP)
REMOTE
Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER OS
iOS, Android
WARRANTY
1 year
PROS
The form-factor of this Amazon Fire TV allows you to use it wherever your TV's HDMI port is located. Also, you will be able to take this streaming media player with you when you go on a trip. The interface is user-friendly, and the device can be controlled via a mobile app.
CONS
No USB port, no voice search on the remote control.
OUR VERDICT
Amazon Fire TV Stick is extremely compact. It looks like a flash-drive and is really convenient to use. You will be able to watch your favorite movies, TV series, and shows without buffering.
detailed parameters
FORM-FACTOR & ADDITIONAL MODES
Smart-stick / Gaming
PROCESSOR & GPU
Broadcom Capri 28155, dual-core 2xARM A9 up to 1 GHz VideoCore4
RAM
1 GB
STORAGE
8 GB
OPERATING SYSTEM
Amazon Prime
INCLUDED APPS
X-Ray Amazon Video HBO GO Showtime ESPN
MAX RESOLUTION
Full HD (1920 х 1080)
SUPPORTED FORMATS
H.264, AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
INTERFACES
1x Type A HDMI 1.4b out with HDCP 1.4 1x Micro USB for power only
WIRELESS
Wi-Fi (Dual-Band 802.11a MIMO), Bluetooth 3.0 (HID, SPP)
REMOTE
Standard Remote
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER OS
iOS 7.0 and higher, Android 4.0.3 and higher
WARRANTY
1 year
PROS
The supplied remote controller has buttons for fast channel search. Also, the Roku 2 streaming media player is capable of transferring the Dolby Digital Plus Surround and DTS Digital Surround signals via HDMI. Roku 2 is compatible with a variety of conventional IR controllers.
CONS
RAM and storage memory capacity are rather small.
OUR VERDICT
Roku 2 is an affordable streaming device with all the necessary features. The installed apps open in less than 5 seconds, and you can find the content you wish really fast.
detailed parameters
FORM-FACTOR & ADDITIONAL MODES
Desktop
PROCESSOR & GPU
BCM11130 900 MHz processor
RAM
256 MB
STORAGE
512 MB
OPERATING SYSTEM
Roku OS
INCLUDED APPS
Netflix Amazon Prime Hulu Plus VUDU HBO GO Sling TV Watch ESPN
MAX RESOLUTION
Full HD (1920 x 1080)
SUPPORTED FORMATS
MP4, MKV, AAC, MP3, JPG, PNG
INTERFACES
1x USB 1x Ethernet 1x HDMI 1x microSD card port
WIRELESS
802.11 (a/b/g/n) with WEP, WPA, WPA2 IR-receiver
REMOTE
Roku standard remote
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER OS
iOS, Android, Windows
WARRANTY
1 year

What is a Streaming Media Player

An up-to-date media player can turn your TV into a multifunctional digital device and greatly expand your options for watching various high-quality videos, whether you do it online or use external storage. With it, you will get access to all and every Internet application, social network, and video streaming website. 3D games? Sure! Why buy an expensive console if there is a streaming media player that supports the same and even more functions? Either your TV is the newest model or a slightly older one, the streaming media player will expand its features greatly!

If you are looking for a portable device to fill in for a PC by connecting to a monitor or a TV set, we recommend you to give a glance to mini PCs or microPC sticks. And in the following review we present 5 best streaming media players and tell you what to think about when you choose one.

What Features to Compare

A choice of a streaming media player should start with looking at its Form-Factor and Performance. There are several form-factors nowadays, the most popular among which are desktop players and smart sticks. The latter are usually placed beside the TV and connected to it via a cable. The smart sticks are known to be quite miniature (a little bigger than your average USB flash drive, so you can easily hide it behind your TV) and to have high functionality. The performance parameter includes the data processing speed, the response time, and the options for data storage. An important part here is played by the streaming media player's processor (CPU) as it is responsible for playing out your high-resolution videos and for a comfortable gaming. The best streaming media players are those with quad-core processors. Then there is also the RAM capacity. To obtain a device with a good response time, look for the one with larger RAM, 2 GB or more. Talking about memory, remember about the media player's storage space. The larger it is, the more data you will be able to keep there. Up-to-date streaming media players sometimes feature a flash memory capacity of 8 GB and higher, or even an HDD drive of up to 3 TB, and some use external USB drives of various shapes and capacity. Additional modes also affect the performance: alongside a standard online video replay option, they might provide a gaming possibility with a special control, or they can include a DVR mode to record online streaming to the internal or external drive.

Next, pay some of your attention to the Functionality. It largely depends on the operating system (OS) as the operating system is what determines the number of supported applications, operation stability, and the availability of additional features like, for example, voice search. A major number of streaming media players are Android-based, and this means you will have a whole world of multimedia entertainment before you, right on your TV screen. Be it simple flipping through pictures or playing 3D video games, the good streaming device will let you enjoy it to the fullest. Today, the smallest resolution for a streaming media player is HD format, but we recommend you to look for at least Full HD device, as it is the resolution the movies are released in, mostly. If you have a 4K TV, you will need a device that supports Ultra HD. Note that the bigger display you have, the larger resolution it will require for comfortable watching. As for the screens that support 3D, it will probably benefit you to buy a media streaming device with the same option. The models with an embedded TV-tuner also exist, although they usually only work with digital TV, not analog. But instead, you will be able to record the shows you want to re-watch later. The great alternative to the tuner will be an IPTV-supporting streaming media player. IPTV is similar to the cable TV, it uses an Internet connection as an incoming signal. IPTV media players will provide you with an opportunity to watch high-quality TV channels in both standard and HD resolution. Among the supported video formats, we'd say, the most widespread would be MPEG 1/2/3/4, AVI, MKV for video, MP3, FLAC, WMA-Pro for audio, and JPEG for images. So choose a device that supports those.

The last important parameter we'd like to point at in choosing the best streaming device is its Interfaces and Controls. Almost any up-to-date streaming media player includes an HDMI port for the maximum image quality and great sound. We recommend the HDMI of 1.4 or higher version both in the player and the TV. If you are planning to connect your streaming devices to the older TV models, you will probably need the composite and the component video outputs. At the same time, to play sound via the external acoustic system, you should, probably, consider the number and types of audio outs, which can be either digital optical, or have coaxial connections with analog stereo outputs. The awesome addition to your best streaming media player will be the availability of a USB input and a place to put a memory card in. It will make the content transfer a piece of cake. As for the controls, all standard media streaming devices operate on closed systems and go with a classic remote control. More cutting-edge devices might be equipped with a QWERTY-keyboard remote, voice search option, and embedded sensors to determine their position in space (the Air Mouse). About the half of modern streaming media players can be controlled via your smartphone or another device using an official application. Sometimes you can connect a keyboard and a mouse to type and use social networks. And for fierce gamers, the gaming remote is surely a must.

Here we have told you the info you can use to make your final choice. Now let us proceed to the best streaming media players on the market as of today.

...Read more ...Read less

Roku 4 4400R

Form-factor and Performance

Looking at a Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player, you will see it is of a desktop form-factor. Despite being quite small, it is still a powerful and high-performing streaming device. This Roku media player has quad-core ARM processor and a 1.5 GB RAM, and they provide the high speed and quality to a high-definition video processing. The internal storage amounts to 256 MB, enough to install several most needed applications. And if you need more space, you can just plug a MicroSD memory card in.

Review of Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player

Functionality

With the native Roku OS 7, installed on this Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player, you will get access to 3000 channels. Additionally, Roku offers you 300,000+ movies and TV-Shows and gives the option to search for the movie on over 20 most popular video streaming channels by the movie's name, by the actor's, or by the director's. This model of Roku media player adapts the image automatically and provides the best quality on your TV. The advanced upscaling technology optimizes the resolution according to that supported by your TV set. What we are trying to say is that you will get the best possible image quality whatever resolution your TV set has, HD or 4K Ultra HD.

Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player in the use

Interfaces and Controllers

You can connect Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player to the Internet using either Wi-Fi 802.11ac connection or an Ethernet port. The HDMI output is also available, to transmit audio and video signals in a digital quality. An optical output will let you connect a professional stereo system, and with a microSD card slot you will be able to expand the storage space. To watch photos, video, and listen to music stored on your other devices, there is a USB port. The Roku media player is controlled via the remote control delivered with the device. We'd like to note that the said control has a headphone output to let you enjoy the sound without disturbing people around. That's a useful feature! And if you happen to lose the controller somewhere in the room, the automatic location feature will find it instantly. Just push the button on top of your Roku player, and the remote will tell you its whereabouts itself! Furthermore, you can also control the Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player using your iOS or Android device — you only need to install the official app! Marvelous!

Detailed review of Roku 4 4400R Streaming Media Player

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Roku 4 4400R
Roku 4 4400R
 

Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media

Form-factor and Performance

Speaking of the form-factor, the Matricom G-Box Q² streaming media player is a desktop device. Performance-wise, this streaming device is quite great, it will easily handle your high-resolution video. Any modern game from Google Store will also be ok! The powerful Amlogic s812 Quad Core processor with 2 GHz frequency and an embedded 8-core GPU will effectively display even 3D. The operating speed is great with the 2 GB RAM this streaming media player has. To store all your apps and games from the Store, here are 16 GB of storage space. Play comfortably!

Review of Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media Mini PC

Functionality

The OS installed on this streaming media player is a full, unlimited version of Android 5 Lollipop. We bet you know this one, it's pretty popular and is used on many modern smartphones and tablets. What's good in it? Well, it allows you to install a huge variety of Google Play apps — and do it fast. There are also other benefits you will get when you buy this Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media Mini PC. Like a convenient HUD Launcher UI and the Amazon Prime video support. The maximum resolution is that of the best streaming devices out there on the market, 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD). You will simply drown in the image realisticity. The supported formats include MP4, MKV, HEVC, MP3, WMA, AAC, JPG, PNG.

 

 

 

Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media Mini PC in the use

Interfaces and Controllers

Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media Mini PC connects to the Internet via both Wi-Fi and Ethernet port. That's pretty standard. What is an advantage, however, is that it can also use a WIRELESS connection and a Bluetooth technology to connect to your headphones and a gamepad. We also would like to point at 2 available USB 2.0 ports for external devices and the HDMI output for digital audio/video playing. You can connect an external audio system through an Optical output. The Matricom remote will make using this best streaming device as easy as possible.

 

Detailed review of Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media Mini PC

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Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media
Matricom G-Box Q² Android TV Streaming Media
 

Amazon Fire TV

Great Possibilities at Moderate Price

For the device in this price range, we were really surprised to see the variety of features Amazon Fire TV has. The Quad-core MediaTek processor and 2GB RAM make this streaming media player a device of an extremely high performance. Then there is the unique voice service called Alexa that can answer questions, play music, check cinema shows, sports competitions results, weather forecasts, news, etc. Just ask Alexa to perform the needed action with a Fire TV Voice Remote controller. Another feature that will probably be a real gift to the parents is the parental control. Now you can create up to four personal profiles for your kids and be absolutely certain that the child will not see anything inappropriate. And to top it all, we can also assure you that Amazon Fire TV is a great player for gaming. First, you can connect an external game controller (sold separately) to have convenient and ergonomic gaming experience. And second — the device is pre-set to support a major number of games, including Lego Star Wars, Pac-Man 256, Minecraft, and many more.

Review of Amazon Fire TV

The Last VHS Player

This might be hard to believe for someone but there are still people over there who use VHS even today, despite the availability of digital formats. The following news might be sad for those people. The last VCR manufacturer, Japan’s Funai Electric, has stopped producing these recorders as of August 2016. The reason is obvious: the demand for this type of players has long since stopped covering the costs of manufacturing. Some parts are even hard to find nowadays.

The first Funai VCR was launched in 1983, and around that time approximately 15 millions of devices were sold per year. The last year has shown 750,000 which clearly can't save them. So the company decided it was time to stop. R.I.P. VHS.

Amazon Fire TV in the use

More Products to Consider

Amazon Fire TV game controller will be a great addition to the streaming media player. It has a voice search option and the possibility to plug your headphones right into the controller.

Detailed review of Amazon Fire TV

Additional Info

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Amazon Fire TV Stick

Form-factor and Performance

Amazon Fire TV is a streaming media player of a rather distinct form-factor. It is a Smart-stick device. This streaming media player outperforms its competitors in terms of compact size, which allows you to easily hide it behind your TV. The Amazon Fire TV Stick features a dual-core Broadcom processor, a VideoCore4 graphics, and a 1 GB RAM. All in all, the performance of this best streaming device is rather high. The same goes for its stability and operating speed. The internal storage capacity amounts to 8 GB — enough to install all the applications you may need.

Review of Amazon Fire TV Stick

Functionality

The device is operated by Amazon OS, allowing this streaming media player to work with more than 3,000 channels, a variety of apps and games. It provides access to over 250,000 TV-shows and movies provided by Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu. You will have the opportunity to watch your favorite NBC News, NBA, and Sling TV programs on a variety of channels, including ESPN, CNN, HGTV, AMC, A & E, Cartoon Network etc. With Amazon Fire TV Stick, the word "buffering" will be gone from your active vocabulary. This TV streaming device supports 1080p and 720p resolutions, and, let's be frank, it is more than great for such a miniature streaming media player.

Amazon Fire TV Stick in the use

Interfaces and Controllers

A Type A HDMI 1.4b port with HDCP 1.4 connects the Amazon Fire TV streaming media player to your computer. Internet connection is established via Wi-Fi. Also, this streaming device features Bluetooth 3.0 support. The microUSB port is intended to power the Amazon Fire TV. You will have two options to control this best streaming media player, one is a useful standard remote control, and another is via the application you can install on your iOS or Android device. In the app, there is a voice search enabled for your convenience. This is an excellent streaming device!

Detailed review of Amazon Fire TV Stick

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Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick
 

Roku 2 Streaming Media Player 4205E

Form-factor and Performance

Roku 2 is a desktop streaming media player created to make your TV as smart and high-performing as possible. With this streaming device, you will easily watch and listen to online content. The BCM11130 processor with the frequency of 900 MHz provides fast launching of your applications and digital files. The 256 RAM ensures system stability, and you can store up to 512 MB of your data and apps. If it is not enough, we have good news for you - you can add to the storage space by using a microSD card as there is a slot available for it.

Review of Roku 2 Streaming Media Player 4205E

Functionality

Roku OS is known to have a pretty simple and user-friendly interface. This streaming device connects you to over 3,000 channels with 300,000+ movies and TV episodes. You can search over 20 best streaming channels too. The package includes Vudu, Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, and Watch ESPN. The maximum video resolution this streaming media player by Roku supports is a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels). The picture you get is really marvelous! The supported formats include MP4 and MKV for video, AAC and MP3 for audio, JPG and PNG for images.

Roku 2 Streaming Media Player 4205E in the use

Interfaces and Controllers

To connect Roku 2 Streaming Media Player 4205E, use the HDMI port. You can choose to watch your movie from an external drive using either a USB port or a microSD card. And, of course, you can connect to the Internet, and there is also a choice here: both Ethernet and Wi-Fi 802.11 (a/b/g/n) are supported, the latter with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 profiles. The Roku remote control with fast channel launching is included, but if you wish you can connect your general-purpose IR remote. Roku has also developed a special mobile application for its devices, called simply Roku Mobile App. It is offered for iOS and Android smartphones, as well as for Windows-based ones. This app allows you to control the player and launch your other mobile apps duplicating the image to the large screen. Fascinating!

Detailed review of Roku 2 Streaming Media Player 4205E

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Sources:

1. Grant ClauserStreaming Media Stick vs. Streaming Media Box: Understanding the DifferencesElectronic House. November 12, 2015.

2. Lauren BarretFinding the Best Streaming Media Player: Roku vs Chromecast vs Amazon Fire vs Apple TVMoney Under 30. March 23, 2016.

3. Streaming Media Buying GuideConsumerReports. Last updated: September 2016.

4. Marshall HonorofHow to Buy a Streaming Media PlayerTom's Guide. May 4, 2016.

5. Brittany HodakRIP VHS: World's Last VCR Will Be Made This MonthForbes. July 23, 2016.

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