There are so many different set top boxes available now that it can be hard to figure out exactly what you need. But, we’re here to help determine what set top box is right for you. So if you’re wondering, “what’s the best set top box for movie and TV streaming” is, we’ve got you covered. Especially with Orange is the New Black returning to Netflix next month, now is the time to pick up a streaming media device if you don’t have one already.
Here are the top 3 best set top boxes for movie & TV streaming, and what each one is best for:
1. Best Set Top Box for TV & Movie Streaming: Roku 3
The best streaming media player available is the new Roku 3. There are over 2000 streaming channels, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, TWC TV, *Gasps for air* Sling TV, Vudu, PopcornFlix, Google Play movies & TV, NFL Now and so much more. Roku also recently added a Twitch channel into the mix as well, so you can get your fix of video game content as well. The interface is fast, and the Roku 3 is very easy to set up. It also has a voice-enabled remote control so you can control it with your voice, and the remote also has a headphone jack so you can throw on a pair of headphones and hear your movie or TV show without disturbing others. And what’s more, Roku allows you to search 17 different services at once for the movie/tv show/other content you’re looking for (and it’s the only set top box that allows you to do so). So, you can search Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon and more all at once.
The Roku’s only flaw is that it doesn’t have many games, unlike Android TV or Fire TV. Still, if you’re not looking for games, it is the best media streaming device for movie and TV streaming.
- Motion-based controller requires no direct line of sight
- Headphone jack built into the remote, ideal for easy listening to TV late at night
- Great for accessing user-created channels (including adult channels)
- 2000+ Channels. You’ll never leave your couch.
- Won’t work with standard definition TVs, unlike the Roku 2
- Weak games selection
- Local network sharing can be difficult to set up
2. Best Set Top Box for Games: Amazon Fire TV Box
The Amazon Fire TV box is another great option for streaming movies and TV, but it has a better selection of games. In fact, it has tons of games originally designed for your phone or tablet, and you’re able to play them on the big screen with ease. Why the box and not the stick? We chose the box for this list because the box supports more games than the stick, and games is pretty much what separates the Amazon Fire TV box from other media streaming devices. Of course, it is the pushier device of the three, in that it always has the Amazon content front and center, as opposed to the Roku’s neutral approach. But, what else would you expect from something called the Amazon Fire TV box.
- Great Parental Controls
- Intelligent search features
- Biggest Games library
- Cool voice search feature
- Instantaneous streaming of Amazon content
- Not enough features to convert people from other set top boxes they already own
- Controller for gaming costs extra
3. Best Cheap Option for the Basics: Chromecast
If you’re just looking for something to stream Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu, Watch ESPN and other basic apps, then Chromecast is the best cheap media streaming set top box available. For less than $30, you can enjoy all of these apps on your HDTV with the easiest setup available. The Chromecast is also very portable, as it only has two pieces, the dongle and the USB plug (included). Google has also grown the number of apps that work with their dongle, and, undoubtedly, the long list of compatible apps will continue to grow.
Price: $28.74 (18 percent off MSRP)
- Cheapest option
- Easy Setup
- Works with Android and iOS devices, as well as PC
- Can stream your web browser
- No games
- No physical remote
- Not all devices can be screen mirrored
- Doesn’t work with Sling TV app
Of course, you could always go the more expensive video game console route by picking up an Xbox One or PS4, as they not only serve as a set top box, but also allow you to play the latest console games.
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