These days, it seems like pretty much any piece of consumer electronics you can get your hands on will stream video from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more. For home theater purposes, what streaming device do you favor? Are you happy with it?
The poll below lumps the most popular streaming devices into categories. Feel free to tell us in the Comments about which specific model(s) you have. I didn’t feel it necessary to list out every possible version of the Roku or Fire TV, though I recognize that some have different capabilities than others.
I favor Roku in my house. I have a Roku Stick in the home theater, a Roku 3 connected to the living room TV, and a Roku Express in the bedroom. My main criteria for choosing this was app support. While Netflix seems to be a universally available feature, it was also important to me to have both Amazon Prime Video and VUDU. That ruled out a Fire TV (because Amazon won’t support the Walmart-owned VUDU) or a Chromecast (ditto for Google refusing to service Amazon).
I’m still not equipped for 4k yet, and none of my streamers are 4k capable. I will probably need to address that when I eventually upgrade my projector.
Even since I moved to Canada, I’ve been in a sticky spot with my streaming devices.
Downstairs (the main set-up), I use a Fire TV for almost everything. The reason for it is because it supports VPN (which I need to access my VUDU account). The Fire TV doesn’t support VUDU, so I’ve had to learn how to sideload the app onto the device so I can watch VUDU on it. Amazon doesn’t support Prime Video on the Fire TV (apparently, the Fire TV is only a thing in the US), but my LG 4K TV does, so I use the TV’s built-in Amazon Video app to watch Prime content.
Upstairs (in my bedroom), I use a Roku. I can access some of my digital library there from the Movies Anywhere app, but I primarily use it for Netflix and Prime content. Roku doesn’t support VPN, so I don’t have access to VUDU from this TV.
2 Rokus (kitchen/bedroom), Xbox One (home theater), PS4 Pro (living room), and Android smartphone (on the go).
I had an Amazon Fire TV (the first gen) but once they blocked Ultraviolet access, I packed it up. Granted, now you have Movies Anywhere access, but (from what I know) Vudu is still blocked along with all my Ultraviolet and Vudu specific titles.
Apple TV on the main setup in the living room. Roku in the bedrooms.
Wish they had the Roku channel on Apple TV. lol
I use my Panasonic bluray player and my Sony uhd player for streaming. I am completely unfamiliar with fire sticks and chrome cast and all that stuff, besides hearing about it.
I just switched from an Intel NUC running Kodi, a Roku, and a Chromecast all doing various things to a single NVIDIA Shield. I was more than pleasantly surprised at how polished it was and how 4k is played effortlessly. So much so I bought a second one for the master!
3 Roku sticks and a Roku TV
I cut the cord about a year ago. Best decision I ever made. I was a DirecTV customer for about 15 years. Had nothing but issues with them after the AT&T acquisition.
My first Apple device in 20 years has been the new Apple TV 4k – because we got one of the pixel shifting 4k projector. Immediately upgraded Netflix to 4k (watching Breaking Bad now with the Mrs.). The smooth interface of the Apple TV and the ability to search for a movie across ALL the apps is crucial.
But we are Amazon everything and I was about to buy the 4K pendant device this week from them until they announced the new stick yesterday.
The reason? Apple 4kTV Does not play Atmos audio from the Amazon App – and no one cares except the 1%.
Now if Apple 4kTV does get Atmos between now and November 1 on the Amazon Prime Video App, then the Apple device will be the be all end all device… until the Fire TV Recast 🙁
How is Amazon who has a hand in everything, beating companies who should be ahead in these departments???
Been using Roku products for many years, but am contemplating switching to just using a Nvidia Shield Pro now that I’ve started ripping all my blu-rays to mkv for use in Kodi. The inability to stream YouTube HDR content seems to be the only drawback of the Shield.
The nice thing is that while the Shield supports Kodi, I use mostly Plex since it now supports audio passthrough and HDR and DirectPlay, so kinda defeats the need to run Kodi for most things. I keep Kodi around for plugins and the occasional strange thing I may want to do (such as exporting audio to a usb soundcard instead of over HDMI).
I am really regretting buying the Roku 4k – the model I got overheats, does not function as well as my Shield, and to my horror, did not even support HDR (it was not clear when I bought the thing that only the premium model supported 4k, otherwise I never would have bought the thing). Actually, really regretting buying the Apple TV as well – I never use the thing. Tempted to just do a factory reset and sell it in ebay. I guess I could do that with the Roku as well.
I should note that a switch to the Xbox One X is something I’m strongly considering too since it would let me disconnect two devices from my media center. I’m just waiting to see if the Kodi developers can get their Xbox app working smoothly on it.
I swear I put an option for HTPC on this poll when I wrote it. I must have accidentally deleted that when posting it. I’ll add it now to the bottom. Sorry about that.
I mostly use the Android TV based Xiaomi Mi box. It’s cheap, acts as a Chromecast, supports Kodi for 4k local network steaming as well as Plex, and has a handy remote that supports voice. It’s basically the Android version of the 4k Apple TV and even outputs Atmos.
For 4k Netflix/YouTube premium I just use my TV’s built in steaming apps, or the ones on my UHD disc player as a backup, which will probably get more usage once I upgrade to a 4k projector (eyeing the JVC RS440U for that but haven’t looked into its built in steaming options yet).
I use a Vero 4K, very neat little player and plays everything without HDR/banding/color space/frame rate sync issues. Best player for me, I tried the NVIDIA Shield as well, but that was a pretty bad experience for 4K HDR material.
I use Apple TV because I can get Dolby Atmos from Netflix, Vudu and of course iTune movies.
What Netflix shows offer Dolby Atmos?
These are the ones I can think of, The Punisher, Iron Fist, Lost in Space, Godless, Dark. There are more but I couldn’t think of right now. Also, some movies are offered in Atmos including Hold The Dark, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Okja and some others. When you open up the app on Apple TV, Netflix will have the ATMOS icon next to a show or movie and that’s how you know it’s in ATMOS. I’ve watched The Punisher and Lost In Space in Atmos and they sounded pretty great. FYI though, I believe Netflix streams the Atmos is in Dolby Digital + not TruedHD like on 4K and Bluray discs.
In my bedroom I use the streaming apps on my blue ray player. In my living room we use an Xbox One X or the Streaming apps on my 4k LG OLED. I need the Xbox for HBO, but it doesn’t have Dolby Vision yet. While the LG supports DV on the streaming apps, but doesn’t have HBO. Why is that anyway?
The audio is about the same between them. But the video quality on the streaming appears to be a little better when using the TV’s. Probably because it’s doing all of the processing or whatever.
My understanding is that the next xbox uodate includes Dolby Vision and keyboard/mouse support. Should be out soonish.
Yea, I heard DV is coming to the Netflix app only this fall. But would be available on most other streaming apps and the Disc player before the end of the year. That would be nice because id rather not have to buy another bluray player when the Xbox seems to be good enough at it.
Would a dedicated 4k Player that costs around 1k really look that much better than an Xbox one? Are you really getting a $500 dollar increase in quality of the video?
2 Nvidia Shields (1 pro, 1 16 GB) one in the living room, one in the master bedroom. 3 Roku’s, one in living room, master and spare bedroom. 1 HTPC in the spare bedroom (other 2 have been retired by the Shield). HDHomerun quad that we use to stream OTA to portable devices, computers, etc, great for watching sports if I need to be working on something outside. For TV we have 2 TiVo Roamio OTAs, one upgraded with 4TB other with 8TB and a TiVo Mini.
I have a FireTV dongle thing just to play with have not done much with it. Thinking hard about Apple TV 4k for Dolby Vision (really Nvidia and Roku? No DV? Really?) but now the new Fire stick has DV for $50. I just don’t like running streaming over wifi. It’s not that my wireless infrastructure is lacking, it’s not, just don’t like it. My dream is for a new Shield to arrive with DV, especially since my AVR just got firmware for DV passthrough.
Roku better wake up after the Recast. It’s not that such devices have not been around, the Shields see the HDhomerun and pull programing data and I can DVR with them, but with Amazon behind this TiVo, SiliconDust, etc should be concerned.
Deaditelord: the Nvidia Shield Pro has been discontinued, best get one while you can.
I am seriously considering a second Shield – its my primary streaming device. I am thinking that it will probably support HDR10+ eventually, and several (all?) of the streaming services said they would be supporting it, I have tried a couple of things on both my Shield in HDR and my Apple TV 4k in Dolby Vision and I honestly cannot tell a difference.
I have s TCL Roku TV. Having that built in is just that much more convenient.
I use either my 4K TiVo Bolt or my Sony 4K UHD Blu-ray player. (Normally, I use the TiVo—unless the content is presented in HDR, in which case I watch via the Sony 4K. While TiVo supposedly has HDR capability, streamers like Netflix have yet to release software for the TiVo that enables the HDR).
I got several devices capable of streaming – NVidia Shield, Roku 4k, Apple TV 4k, PS4, PS3, my UHD Disc player, Chromecast, and the TV has SmartCast. Oh I guess the Xbox 360 and the Wii also stream, but neither of those are even hooked up. Oh and then the Tivos.
The Shield is my primary go-to for streaming. It just supports everything except for Dolby Vision, so 99% of my streaming is on there. HDR? Yep. 4k? Yep. Atmos? Yep. Plex, Kodi, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, Crackle, Daystar, TBN, ORF? Yep yep and yep, it supports it. Oh and I can stream games from my computer in 4k, so yeah, its my primary device (it gets more usage than all other game consoles, Disc players and stand alone streaming boxes combined).
In the living room, I have a 1080p projector, and hooked the Roku 4k up to it, but I have issues with some content from Plex (anamophic HD content). The Tivo has even more issues with Plex, so I rarely use it for streaming services.
The user interface on the UHD Disc player is just clunky and feels like it was added in as an afterthought. The Plex client won’t let me input my pin number, and then HDR is not supported by the apps (in fact, I am not even sure if they do 4k).
The Apple TV 4k got so frustrating, I have not even turned it on in months. The issue is with the thing always wanting to send a signal even when its off, meaning it doesn’t work right with my HDMI Switch. It keeps wanting to default to Dolby Vision, which is fine for the TV, but my switch has issues with the bandwidth requirements. The interface is probably the worst of all of my devices, so unless I specifically want to watch something on iTunes, it stays unplugged.
If I want to watch something streaming in Dolby Vision, I just use the tv. If I ever get Atmos, I may use the Apple TV more, but for now, the built in apps on the TV are just fine.