The 5 best TV streamers of 2015 – which should you buy?
Television is changing. The word means something very different now from what it meant a decade ago. The satellite dishes are disappearing from the sides of our homes, replaced with small boxes and plug-in dongles hanging from the back of our monitors that play shows, films, games and more.
Be it a set-top box or matchbox-sized dongle, there’s a wide range of streaming devices to choose from. All of these devices may perform incredibly similar functions, but not all TV streamers are created equal, and spending more money doesn’t necessarily equate to a better product.
So what streamer should you buy? While none of them hold the promise of beaming TV directly onto your retinas, here’s Alphr’s list of the best streaming devices for binge-viewing your way through life.
Best TV streamers of 2015
Price when reviewed: £30
The shiniest and Googliest (is that a word?) TV streaming dongle on the market, Google’s Chromecast successor is the best you’ll get in terms of value for money, features and a dash of style.
Less intrusive than the previous model, Google’s new Chromecast retains most of the same hardware and the delicious £30 price point, but delivers a faster and smoother experience than before. Not only does it now support 5GHz Wi-Fi connections, but it’s faster to connect to your phone, allows for improved guest streaming, and you can now cast more games to it than ever before.
Price when reviewed: £35
Google’s Chromecast may rule the roost of TV streaming dongles, but Amazon’s Fire TV Stick certainly comes a close second.
Just like the Chromecast, Fire TV Stick is tiny and unobtrusive behind your TV, but instead of pulling content from your smartphone, Stick connects directly to streaming services. Running on Android, Stick packs quite the hardware punch for such a tiny device and that extra £5 really goes a long way. You’ll get 8GB internal storage, support for 720p and 1080p output, dual-band, dual-antenna 802.11 Wi-Fi and a dual-core Broadcom Capri 28155 processor allowing it to play a wide variety of Android games.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, and you don’t mind being tied into Amazon’s ecosystem, the Fire TV Stick is a great purchase.
3. Roku 2
Price when reviewed: £70
The Roku 2 may not be as feature-filled as the Roku 3 (which comes with voice search, RF remote and headphone support), but it’s a fantastic product for £30 less. You get the same library of 1,400 streaming channels, the ability to use your phone for voice and text search, and it comes in a tiny package that’ll sit underneath your TV.
4. Apple TV
Price when reviewed: £129
We thought the 2015 Apple TV was a bit disappointing on launch, but could see it having enormous potential with the right amount of software tweaks and fixes. When Tim Cook first touted it, there was a lot of talk about “apps are the future of TV”. As it currently stands, it seems that apps could be the “future of TV… maybe in a few months time”.
The new Apple TV has an Apple A8 processor, 2GB RAM and a fancy new touchpad remote. Siri is very much placed in the limelight, but there’s a range of issues we picked up on – such as the inability to use Siri to search YouTube or Apple Music. Updates will inevitably come and fix all of these problems, but for the time being you’re better sticking with either an older version of Apple TV or another streaming device.
5. Nexus Player
Price when reviewed: £79
A second entry from Google into our top five streamers shows that – despite Android TV devices not taking off – Google means business in the streaming space.
Unfortunately, the Nexus Player doesn’t have the same game-changing air about it that the Chromecast does. However, it does offer up an interesting combination of playable Android games (with an optional gamepad) alongside some TV streaming capabilities. We just hope that more streaming services will be added in time. It’s only worth a look if you’re adamant that you want to play Android games on your TV.