Best streaming devices for 2022: Apple TV, Roku, and more

There now are so many ways for you to get all the shows and movies you want on all your favorite streaming services, be it Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+. But the most popular choice by far is still a streaming device, such as a set-top box or streaming stick that you connect to your TV with a simple but effective HDMI input.

But the major players in the streaming device game — Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, Roku — are all fighting for your money, so we’re here to make sure you throw it at the right streaming device for you and your budget, which typically ranges from as low as $30 to as high as $200.

Further compounding the issue is that if you have a smart TV from the past several years from any of the big TV brands, there’s a pretty good chance that you might not even need to plug in any other sort of smart streaming device, thanks to the built-in operating system and a plethora of available streaming apps. And that’s not even counting features like Chromecast or AirPlay 2, which make it simple to stream any sort of content you want from any Android, iOS, Chrome, or Mac device.

Our top two picks are in a class of their own. They’re the best choices you can make. They’re also the most expensive — by quite a good bit. Elsewhere, we’ll get into picks that are more comparable in price and function. And at that level, it’s really more about ecosystem and personal choice than anything else.

We get paid to make some tough decisions here, though. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021)
Roku Streaming Stick 4K and 4K+

The best of the inexpensive streaming devices

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Also great, but for those who don’t want Roku

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Chromecast with Google TV
Chromecast with Google TV

Everything you want in a Chromecast

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new apple tv 4k announced everything we know second gen siri remote heroAppleApple TV 4K (2021) The best overall streaming device


  • Snappy performance
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
  • Much improved remote control

Why you should buy this: It’s the simplest, most consistent experience you can get, with a relatively open-ended shelf life. And that’s what you want if it’s something you’re going to use almost every day.

Who it’s for: Anyone, really (and our Editor at large, Caleb Denison, who is a recent convert), so long as they have the cash to spend. While those in the Apple ecosystem can make use of some of the extra features, it’s not just for those with iPhones and iPads.

Why we picked the Apple TV 4K:

In the world of $50 streaming sticks that absolutely can get the job done and get it done well, it’s perhaps a little hard to recommend something that costs three or four or five times as much. And to be clear, Apple TV 4K doesn’t do three or four or five times as much as its competitors. In fact, you can make the argument that it does a little less. More on that in a second. But what it does do, it tends to do better with fewer headaches.

What you get for that extra money is hardware that should darn near last forever. (Just ask anyone who’s still happily using the original Apple TV 4K, released in 2017.) The latest model runs Apple’s own A12 Bionic processor and sports Wi-Fi 6 for wireless and gigabit Ethernet if you prefer to plug in. It’s available with 32GB of storage, or double that for just $20 more, which you should definitely do if you’re already up in this price range. All the other specs are there, too. Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HDR10.

The redesigned remote control isn’t our favorite among all the devices on this list, but it’s definitely better than it used to be. And it now has a proper power button for shutting things off.

And that’s all followed up by software updates that will span years in the future. The fourth-generation Apple TV — the last to top out at HD resolution — released in 2015 is still supported on tvOS. So there’s plenty of reason to believe that an Apple TV 4K purchased today should last at least five years, insofar as the software is concerned.

Apple’s tvOS is even more simple than its current phone and tablet software. The home screen is app icons, and that’s it. No real recommendations of shows or movies or live channels. No advertising. Nothing that overwhelms. That simplicity in and of itself may well be worth the extra money.

Those who are all-in with Apple’s ecosystem also will get the added bonus of things like AirPlay 2 and HomeKit — as well as ridiculously slick integration of using your iPhone or iPad for the on-screen keyboard. But even if you’re not, you’ll still be able to snag all the apps you could possibly need for your home viewing experience. And they’re all done in accordance with Apple’s developer standards, which are decidedly higher than other platforms on this list.

Need more? How about Apple Fitness+? It’s got full integration with Apple TV 4K, which is perfect with more people exercising from home than ever before. And if you’re a big gamer, then Apple Arcade will be an appealing addition.

Apple TV 4K isn’t inexpensive. But it’s still the best.

Apple TV 4K (2021)
Apple TV 4K (2021)

The best overall streaming device

best streaming devices nvidia shieldPhil Nickinson/Digital TrendsNvidia Shield (2019) The next-best streaming device


  • Great for game streaming
  • Good variety of apps
  • Excellent AI upscaling


  • Doesn’t come with a game controller
  • No included HDMI cable

Why you should buy this: It’s the best hardware that’s not Apple, plus a great option for gamers.

Who it’s for: If you’re all about Android (or just don’t want Apple) but still want powerful hardware that’s going to last a long, long time.

Why we picked the Nvidia Shield:

The Shield (also often referred to as “Shield TV”) has a history dating back to 2015. That ancient hardware, running Nvidia’s Tegra X1 processor, was overpowered for the time and keeps that original box running just fine today.

The most recent Shield, released in 2019, comes in two flavors. Both add Dolby Vision into the mix in addition to Dolby Atmos decoding. The non-Pro model comes in a cylindrical body for some reason. The Pro has more RAM and doubles the onboard storage to 16GB (both models still allow for external storage) and is meant for gaming via Nvidia’s G-Force Now system. And the Tegra X1+ processor is as good now as it was at release. Additionally, Nvidia does a great job at ensuring even more longevity to its devices with frequent updates that bring additional features and capabilities to the box.

We absolutely expect Shield to remain a viable option in the years to come. What little concern we do have rests more on Google’s shoulders than anything else — the company has a habit of unexpectedly killing off products when it no longer finds use for them. That said, Google TV (and Android TV) are in enough first-

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