Easiest streaming devices
In time for the holidays, the biggest names in streaming media are showing off a new generation of players.
The new version of Apple TV makes it easier to control the box and search for content. You can search easily for an actor, movie, or TV show. The remote has a touchpad, plus an accelerometer and a gyroscope for gaming.
Consumer Reports says that Apple TV is a good choice for those who already live in Apple’s world and have content stored in iTunes, for example. And it’s really easy to set up if you have an iOS device. But it is missing some streaming services, such as Amazon. The new Apple box starts at $149.
Another option is the new $100 Amazon Fire TV. Consumer Reports says that it’s great for Prime members because the interface is built around Prime content. The new box also supports 4K video and now has voice control. Amazon’s Fire TV is one of the fastest boxes tested, which means that videos and apps will load in no time at all.
Consumer Reports’ highest-rated player is the $130 Roku 4. With this new model, Roku took everything Consumer Reports liked about the Roku 3 and added 4K capability. Plus, like other Roku models, it has the most streaming services of any of the devices tested.
If you’re looking for a less expensive option, Consumer Reports recommends the completely redesigned Google Chromecast for $35. It caught up to other players with a Wi-Fi upgrade, which could mean less interference and better streaming. But it’s not as much of a robust, all-around player as some of the other models tested. Chromecast has no remote, so you have to use your phone, tablet, or laptop to control it.
Another option is the Amazon Fire stick for $40. You get many of the features of the Fire TV, but without the speed.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.