Cord-cutting isn’t as easy as canceling your cable subscription. It also requires precise juggling of streaming subscriptions, a hearty wifi connection, and the right equipment. The good news is that as more and more people drop their cable and become reliant on streaming services, the devices on which to consume that entertainment become more and more plentiful. There are five major streaming devices on the market, with basic and tricked-out versions at each end of the price spectrum. How do you decide which one is right for you?
The simple, HD-equipped Roku Express is the cheapest option at $30, has many Dolby- and 4K-ready options in the middle and a fully equipped soundbar with integrated Roku for $180. Amazon Fire TV options range from a basic Fire TV Stick (starting at $40) to the Alexa-equipped, 4K-friendly Cube ($120), plus a couple of tricked-out DVR options each retailing for $230 or $280. The Google Chromecast is priced reliably at $35, though a new 4K version has been on sale recently for $59. The gamer-friendly Nvidia Shield TV and the Apple TV are on the higher end of the price range, and the newest entry in the streaming device game, the TiVo Stream 4K, is yet to launch but made plenty of headlines in its debut at CES.
So if you’re cutting the cord but still aren’t sure which equipment to buy, we’ve rounded up a list of the best streaming devices available in 2020 below. We run down the prices, pros, and cons of each. But remember that in order to use all of these devices, they require an HDMI-equipped television, wireless internet, and subscriptions to your streaming apps of choice.
For more cord-cutting information, check out our list of the best alternatives to cable and TV.