Six of the best TV and media streaming gadgets
Amazon Fire TV Stick, £34.99, from www.amazon.co.uk
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, this stick is well worth the price. You’ll have easy access to hundreds of hours of Prime inclusive film and TV, as well as a wealth of other free-to-view and DTO (download to own) content. Even if you don’t subscribe to the Amazon service, the Fire Stick is worth having to download apps including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Spotify. If you’re curious about Prime and aren’t ready to commit, you’ll even get a 30-day free trial included in the price. It’s easy to navigate, with a left to right scrolling carousel of programmes, films, apps and games to choose from. To control the stick, either use the remote or download the accompanying app on your phone.
Apple TV, from £129, from www.apple.com/uk
It’s hard to beat the appeal of Apple products - they’re all so easy to operate and, of course, they look so darn pretty! The new Apple TV is no different. It couldn’t be simpler to set up - just plug it into an HDMI port on your screen and connect it to your internet. The box itself is rather heavy, but that’s due to the fact it contains a stack of hardware to keep it operating quickly and smoothly. So what makes this media streamer one of the best on the market? Well, the interface is easy to use and browse - you can easily flick between apps such as Netflix, and access the App Store and iTunes. Yet it’s the remote - which can be operated by Siri (Apple’s voice command system) - that makes this so great. You can ask about the weather, rewind the programme you’re watching and even ask for film suggestions through it.
Nvidia Shield Android TV, £149.99, from shield.nvidia.co.uk
One look at this streamer and you’ll know it’s one for gamers. A fast performing, sleek little black slab with SD expandable storage and enviable support for Ultra HD allowing 4K viewing. Yet, it’s not all about the high-quality graphics and gaming ready software, it’s a great TV streamer too. Amongst others, it supports apps by Netflix, Plex and App Store. If you subscribe to Geforce Now you’ll find it hard to budge from the sofa as you settle into the many gaming options available via the gadget and its included gaming controller.
Google Chromecast, £30, from store.google.com
With a pretty design, Google’s Chromecast streamer focuses on allowing the viewer to watch content from a phone or tablet on a much bigger screen - casting the programme or film with the touch of a button. If you’ve ever watched TV on your mobile, you may well have noted a mini TV icon (with an almost rainbow like design in the corner of it). If so, this is where the Google Chromecast comes alive. Once you’ve got the Chromecast popped into your larger screen, click on the icon and the programme will transfer from your phone to the TV screen in an instant. This is a great option if you have compatible entertainment apps on your phone, such as YouTube, Now TV, Netflix and BT Sports.
Roku 3, £99.99, from www.currys.co.uk
It really is hard to beat the appeal of Roku streamers. Competitively priced and having so many apps available (including Plex, NOW TV, Netflix, ITV Player and Google Play), they are perhaps the best all-rounder. There are currently three models available to buy, and while they all use the same interface, they each, in succession, offer additional extras. The Roku Three allows you to plug headphones directly into the remote (headphones provided) - so if you want to watch TV while your partner wants to sleep, now you can do so without disturbing them. The streamer itself responds to commands quickly and efficiently with its easy to navigate interface - even technophobes will find it easy to master.
MYGICA ATV1200 HD Smart TV Box 4GB, £89.99, from www.currys.co.uk
A relative newcomer to the UK market, this device is well worth investigating. On first appearances, it looks a little different to other plug ‘n’ play devices, and that’s because it is. It’ll take an extra few minutes to set up the router-like device, but it’s then ready to be filled with apps. Log on to the Google Play store (it’s powered by Android TV) and fill your boots with them - whether that’s games, films or TV apps. You can watch both Youtube and Netflix through it as well as browse the internet.