Back to School 2016 Buying Guide: Top 10 Streaming Devices

With school time approaching once again, it is time to start thinking about what you might need for the year ahead. While school books, pens, pencils, laptops, Chromebooks and all the rest are likely to be on the agenda, it is also worth thinking about what you might need for when you have some spare time away from studying. Streaming devices are definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks to an abundance of on-demand apps, there is literally always something ready for you to watch. Whether you are looking for something to watch Netflix on, listen to Spotify through or just catch up on YouTube, all of the devices below will help.


If you are interested in checking out Android TV, then there is simply no better option available than the NVIDIA SHIELD. This is the most powerful Android TV device on the market and as well as having access to all the usual apps like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and so on, the SHIELD comes with a number of exclusive gaming aspects. Which makes this a great option for those who want a more powerful streaming device and one which is highly tuned to gamers.


If the NVIDIA SHIELD is more power than you need, then there is always the simple Chromecast. While this is a small and simple dongle, it also happens to be one of the most popular streaming devices and largely thanks to how simple it is to use. Plug the dongle into your TV and then cast content from your favorite apps to your TV. Another reason why this option is so popular is that it is super cheap, about $35.

Chromecast Audio

Last year, Google introduced not one new Chromecast dongle, but two. The main difference being that this one is designed to offer you all the benefits of Chromecast, but for your audio-enabled products. As such, with a Chromecast Audio you can cast your favorite audio tracks to your speakers. Another great and affordable streaming option.

Roku 4

Roku is another company who is doing extremely well in the streaming market and is one which many consumers consider to offer the best interface. In fact, Roku has quote a few generations of streaming devices available and the latest one is the Roku 4. This one comes with a number of improvements over the previous model although one of the biggest is that it is able to play back 4K content. Another good option for those looking for a powerful and 4K-enabled streaming player.

Amazon Fire TV

Speaking of which, the latest streaming device from Amazon became available towards the end of last year and this is the latest generation of the Amazon Fire TV. Like the Roku 4, this one sees multiple improvements over the previous generation and also includes support for 4K playback. If you are a Prime member, then this will likely be a good option for you as it is highly tuned to work with a Prime membership.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

If you are an Amazon Prime member but not looking to shell out the full cost associated with the Fire TV, then a very good option to go for is the Fire TV Stick. While this is not as powerful as the Fire TV, it does provide a very similar experience with the same access and interface in play, but all confined within a light and portable (and cheap) HDMI dongle. Great option for those looking for a slightly more involved user interface than Chromecast, but at a similar price to Chromecast.

Roku Stick

Likewise, if you are not a Prime member and would like something Chromecast-like but with more interaction, then Roku also has a stick-based dongle available, the aptly named Roku Stick. Like the Fire TV stick, this one comes with its own UI and also makes use of an actual remote control. Although, you can always use the corresponding app to navigate and control the content. Another option for those looking for a portable and affordable streaming stick.

Roku 3

The Roku 3 is not the newest Roku product on the market, as it has now been succeeded by the Roku 4. However, this player is still available to buy and comes in cheaper than the Roku 4. So if you are after the Roku set top box experience but do not want to pay more than $100 then this might be worth checking out. There are some compromises like the lack of 4K support, but otherwise, a very capable and good-performing streaming device.

Slingbox 500

The Slingbox 500 is a little different to most of the other options on this list as it is more focused towards live TV. However, the one benefit of this box is while the other options look to give you a way to consume mobile content on your TV, this one will provide you with the ability to consume TV content on all of your mobile devices. A nice product for those who are more interested in live TV content than app-based on-demand content.


While the NVIDIA SHIELD is already on this list, there are actually two models available, the normal version and the Pro version. Generally speaking much of the hardware is the same with the exception of one glaring difference. The normal version comes with 16GB storage and this one comes with a whopping 500GB storage. Of course, you can now use external storage solutions with the normal SHIELD to expand its storage limits, but if you are just after one box which provides a ton of streaming content as well as the ability to store a lot of content locally, then the NVIDIA SHIELD Pro is certainly worth checking out.

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About the Author

John Anon

John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]