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Best media streaming devices for your TV

With so much on-demand content available these days, media streaming devices have become extremely popular, and for good reason. They allow you to transform your TV into a smart TV by bringing apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu to the big screen.

Thanks to high demand, there are many media streamers available on the market from companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple. Although most do the same thing, there are a number of differences between them, making it harder for consumers to choose which one to get.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best media streaming devices you can get your hands on. Keep in mind that for the first half of the article we are focusing on the very best options at any price, but in the second half we take a look at the best budget options as well. Without further ado, let’s get started. Here are the best media streaming devices for your TV.

Editor’s note: We will be updating this list regularly as new devices launch.

Amazon Fire TV

best media streaming devices

This is the latest and greatest media streaming device from Amazon, and it’s super easy to set up. All you have to do is plug it into the HDMI port of your TV and a wall outlet, connect it to a Wi-Fi network, and you’re good to go.

The device gives you access to a number of different video services including YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu and is capable of streaming videos in 4K resolution. It also supports loads of different music services such as Spotify, iHeartRadio, as well as Amazon’s Prime Music.

One of its biggest features is that it comes with a remote control that has Alexa on board. So instead of pushing buttons constantly to control the device, you can do so via voice commands. You can ask Amazon’s digital assistant to launch YouTube, play a specific show, find comedies, fast forward one minute, and much more.

Amazon’s Fire TV is already up for pre-order and will officially be released on October 25. It will set you back $ 69.99.

Apple TV

best media streaming devices

Apple TV gives you access to all the major services such as YouTube, Netflix, ESPN, and many others and can stream videos in 4K resolution. Just like Amazon’s Fire TV described above, this media streamer comes with a remote control included in the box and also has Apple’s digital assistant on board. Siri provides another way for you to interact with the device, as you can open apps, play and pause videos, and search for content using voice commands.

You can also stream videos and music from an iPhone or iPad to Apple TV, play games, and check out the photos and videos stored in your iCloud Photo Library. The setup process is easy and required you to plug the device into a power source as well as the HDMI port on your TV. However, the only problem is that the HDMI cable is not included in the retail box, so you’ll have to buy one in case you don’t already have it.

Apple TV comes in black and is available in two storage options: 32 GB and 64 GB. It’s one of the most expensive media streaming devices on this list, as it will set you back $ 179 or $ 199 depending on the model.

Roku Ultra

best media streaming devices

Roku has a number of media streaming devices on offer with the Ultra being the best one. Just plug it into your TV and browse through 450,000+ movies and TV episodes across 4,500+ paid or free channels.

The device can stream content in 4K quality and comes with a remote that sports gaming buttons. It also has voice support, allowing you to search for video content without having to press a bunch of buttons, and features a built-in headphone jack. This means you can listen to audio with the help of the headphones included in the retail box in order not to bother other people you may have around you.

Another cool feature of the Roku Ultra is the remote finder. Just press the button on the device and the remote will emit a sound, so you’ll be able to locate it more easily. Those of you interested can get in on Amazon for $ 87.70 via the button below.

Roku Streaming Stick+

best media streaming devices

Roku’s second device on this list is the Streaming Stick+, which is quite similar to the Ultra model described above. It gives you access to the exact same content and can stream videos in 4K. However, it’s smaller and plugs directly into the HDMI port of your TV, without the need for additional cables.

The media streaming device also comes with the remote with voice search support but doesn’t have a headphone jack or the gaming buttons. There’s also no remote finder feature, which would be nice to have but likely isn’t a deal breaker for most people.

If these things aren’t that important to you, the Streaming Stick+ is a great option. It will set you back $ 69.99 or around $ 20 less than the Roku Ultra.

Nvidia Shield TV

best media streaming devices

If you’re into gaming, this is the streaming device for you. It allows you to stream a number of popular games from Nvidia’s servers to your TV, but only if you sign up for the company’s GeForce Now service that will set you back $ 8 per month. You also have a chance to download and play a number of Android titles or stream games from your PC to the Shield TV.

Of course, Nvidia Shield TV isn’t all about gaming, as it also gives you access to all the major video services including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and so on. An Assistant-powered remote control is included in the box, as is a Shield controller for playing games.

Due to its many features, Nvidia Shield TV is quite expensive. The gorgeous device currently retails for $ 199.99 on Amazon.

Google Chromecast Ultra

best media streaming devices

Google’s media streaming device works a little bit different than the rest of the products on this list. It doesn’t have a central hub on a TV that would allow you to browse through different services. Instead, you have to cast the content from apps like YouTube, Netflix, and others to your TV by opening them on your smartphone, tablet, or PC and pressing the dedicated button.

It works like a charm but can be a bit annoying to some who would prefer to control the device with a remote, which the Chromecast Ultra obviously doesn’t come with.

The device can stream videos in 4K quality and is equipped with an ethernet port for streaming over a wired connection. You can turn your TV into a digital picture frame with the help of Google Photos and connect the Chromecast Ultra with an Assistant-powered Home device, so you can search and play videos with various voice commands. To get it, you’ll have to dish out $ 69.

Best budget meida streaming devices

Roku Express HD

best media streaming devices

This is a great option for those on a budget, as it’s the most affordable of the media streaming devices on this list. Just plug it into the HDMI port on your TV, connect it to a Wi-Fi network, and enjoy movies and TV shows from Netflix and a bunch of other services in 1080p resolution.

A remote control is included in the box with dedicated buttons for launching Sling, Hulu, Netflix, and Vudu. Alternatively, you can also control the device using the free Roku app, which allows you to cast images, videos, and music from your smartphone to the big screen. It also supports voice search, making it easy to find your favorite shows quickly.

The Roku Express HD won’t cost you an arm and a leg, as it retails for just $ 29.99. You can get it from Walmart by clicking the button below.

Roku Express HD+

best media streaming devices

This one is more or less identical to the Roku Express HD — see above. It gives you access to the same content from services like YouTube and so on, comes with the same remote with voice support, and can be controlled via your smartphone with the help of the Roku app.

What makes it different is that it includes composite cables — in addition to an HDMI cable — making it compatible with older TVs as well.

This means that the device is also slightly more expensive, although it’s still very affordable. You can get your hands on it for just $ 39.99, which is $ 10 more when compared to the price of the Roku Express HD.

Roku Streaming Stick

best media streaming devices

The fifth and final Roku device on this list is the Streaming Stick. It plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV without the need for any cables. As expected, it gives you access to the exact same content as the rest of Roku’s lineup including Netflix, YouTube, as well as various sports apps like NBA.

A remote is included in the box that sports voice search as well as dedicated buttons for launching popular video services. If that’s not really your thing, you can also control the device with the free app provided by Roku.

In terms of design and features, it’s basically the same as the Streaming Stick+ that’s also on this list, with one exception. It can only stream 1080p videos, whereas the + model supports 4K. That’s why it’s also $ 20 cheaper, meaning it can be yours for $ 49.99. A heck of a deal for one of the best budget media streaming devices on this list. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick

best media streaming devices

Amazon Fire TV Stick is extremely popular for a number of reasons. It’s small and plugs directly into your TV, so you won’t even notice that it’s there, and comes with an Alexa-powered remote control.

Just press the button on top and say things like, “Alexa, open YouTube” or, “Alexa, show me action movies” to save time you would otherwise spend pressing a bunch of buttons to get the job done. There are over 140 channels and apps available giving you access to all sorts of video content as well as music.

The Fire TV Stick is capable of streaming 1080p videos and can be paired with any of Amazon’s Echo devices. It definitely won’t break the bank, as the company is selling it for just $ 39.

Google Chromecast (2nd Generation)

best media streaming devices

Just like the Chromecast Ultra, this device doesn’t have an interface you could use to search for apps on your TV. You have to press the dedicated button in apps on your smartphone, tablet, or PC to stream videos to the big screen. That makes the Chromecast series one of the most simple to use of all media streaming devices on the market right now. 

Google’s Chromecast is small, hidden from sight, and can turn your TV into a digital picture frame with the help of Google Photos. It can also be paired with a Google Home device but doesn’t have an ethernet port like its bigger brother. The only major difference between this model and the more expensive one is that it lacks 4K support, which for those with 1080p TVs or limited Internet connections — it won’t really make any real difference. 

It comes in Black, Lemonade, or Coral, and will set you back $ 35. Get it from Google via the button below.

As you can see, there are a lot of different media streaming devices out there. In general, all of them do the same thing, with some also featuring a remote, a pair of headphones, and even a game controller. Therefore, which one to get really depends on what exactly it is you’re looking for and how much are you willing to spend. However, they are all great devices, and you really can’t go wrong with either one.

What’s the best media streaming device in your eyes? Let us know by posting a comment down below.

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Latest Android Oreo bug disables mobile data on some Pixel and Nexus devices

Android 8.0 Oreo already rolled out to most Pixel and Nexus devices, and although it offers quite a few useful and interesting features, it also has a few annoying bugs on board. The latest one disables all mobile data usage prematurely on some carriers around the world, as reported by a number of users on the Google Product Forums.

Certain carriers provide customers with unlimited access to certain apps like WhatsApp, for example. What this means is that even though you have used up all of your mobile data, you should still be able to use these apps. Unfortunately, it looks like Oreo doesn’t know, this because as soon as you reach your data allowance for the month, mobile data is shut off completely.

See also:
Android 8.0 Oreo could let you use Wi-Fi hotspots more like cellular data

Android 8.0 Oreo could let you use Wi-Fi hotspots more like cellular data

10 hours ago

What’s more, some users are also reporting that the mobile data on their Pixel devices is turned off despite the fact they haven’t yet used all of it. This is a software issue and, thankfully, Google is already aware of it.

A Pixel Community Manager announced on the forums that the company is looking into the issue and will fix it via an update. When exactly it will be available is anyone’s guess at this point, but we likely won’t have to wait for long as the problem was described as “high priority” by the community manager.

Have you been experiencing this issue on your Pixel or Nexus smartphone? Let us know in the comments.

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Crowdfunding project of the week: LAER laptop sleeve keeps all your devices charged

It’s Sunday and this means we are ready to bring you another ‘Crowdfunding project of the week’, where we highlight some of the hottest tech coming from sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. There’s no time to waste, so let’s jump right in.

Other featured campaigns: 

Keeping devices alive has become one of our biggest worries. This is exactly why I don’t mind carrying horrifyingly bulky battery cases or packs around. ARROE has something else in mind, though. They want to turn your laptop sleeve into the ultimate charging hub.

LAER not only protects your laptop from the daily dangers of being carried around. It will also keep all your devices alive with the integrated battery and set of ports made to support every gadget out there. It has USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports, not to mention Qi wireless charging. Yes! You can just place your Qi-compatible device on top of a circular charging area and begin juicing up.

Travel a bunch? No problem. Make sure to keep a charge with the included outlet adapters. It even has Bluetooth, which makes it possible to control it with an app. And TrackR support will help you keep more peace of mind when in fear of loss or theft. The package is as complete as it can get and we can’t help but recommend it. Just keep in mind you will have to wait a bit until its March 2018 estimated shipping window.

Those interested can sign up for as little as $ 100, which seems like a reasonable price for all you get. This package will only get you a 5,000 mAh battery, though. If you want a secondary 20,000 mAh pack you will have to pay at least $ 140. Who is signing up?

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Textra brings Android 6.0.1 emoji to KitKat and Lollipop devices

emoji1-1 Ars Technica

Textra, alternatively known as “the best text message app that there is” or alternatively “God’s gift to the Android operating system,” is bringing Marshmallow’s trove of brand spanking new emoji to those of us who haven’t had the luxury of upgrading to Android 6.0.1 yet. Moreover, they’re also adding diversity options so that you can make those little Simpson-esque yellow figures more accurately reflect the color of your skin.

Even without the update, this text messaging app brings a lot to the table including Lollipop-style Material Design and a slew of customization options. The app is lightweight, and flexible, and although it has ads, a $ 3 upgrade to professional is some of the best money you’ll ever spend on a mobile app.

The update hasn’t hit the Google Play Store quite yet, but if you’re anxious to get your hands on it, Textra tweeted a link to the apk:

With the added emoji, the number of little emoticons available at your fingertips has exploded to over 1600. Soon you’ll be able to walk like an Egyption through the mobile world, communicating exclusively in hieroglyphics to convey even the most complex thoughts to your friends and families.

best texting apps for AndroidSee also: 10 best texting apps for Android29

What are your thoughts of Textra? If you disagree with my hyperbolic praise in the first paragraph, let us know which texting app you prefer and why in the comments!

Get it in the Play Store
best twitter apps for androidNext up: 10 best Twitter apps for Android84

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CyanogenMod 13 nightlies now available for Android One devices

cyanogenmod nexus 5 boot screen aa 2

Android One users definitely enjoy the pure Google experience these affordable handsets bring to the table, but some of us still need a certain level of customization and extra features. This is why the CyanogenMod team has been kind enough to offer Android One device support. And if you are a fan of being at the bleeding edge of technology, today is your lucky day, as CyanogenMod 13 nightlies have just become available!

LG Nexus 5X Unboxing-22See also: Best cheap Android phones (December 2015)294

All the files are available from CyanogenMod’s repository. All you have to do is grab the files from there and install them into your phone. Of course, that is only after you unlock your bootloader and install a custom recovery. Just keep in mind all of this tinkering can harm your device and/or void your warranty, so do your research before proceeding. If something bad shall happen to your phone, it’s only your responsibility and you might be left in the dark.


best CyanogenMod themes (by developer)See also: 16 best CyanogenMod themes (by developer)1

And dealing with nightlies happens to be a bit more delicate, as these are experimental versions of the software. Progress is updated… nightly, bringing forth the latest changes to the code. This means it’s more than likely that you will encounter bugs and issues from time to time. If you would rather not deal with that (as much), wait for the stable release.

Are any of you guys installing these CyanogenMod 13 nightlies? Just click through the button below to get the files!

Download CyanogenMod 13 nightlies for Android One

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Android 6.0.1 arriving on Nexus devices today, includes new emoji

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0093

We already knew that a ton of new emoji were slated to hit Android devices sometime soon, thanks to a recent tweet from Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior VP of Android, Chrome OS, and Chromecast at Google. As it turns out, the new emoji are arriving on Nexus devices starting today, as part of the update to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

emojimation_latest3 (1)

The biggest change in the update to 6.0.1, according to Ars Technica, is the addition of over 200 new and revamped emoji based on Unicode 8. Mainly, the poop emoji has been redesigned, and all of the odd pink body parts that appeared in past emoji packs have now been turned to a yellow skin tone. A full list of the new and revamped emoji can be found at Unicode’s website. Adding new emoji to the Google Keyboard application actually requires a full system update. Although the Google Keyboard app can be updated on its on in the Play Store, fonts are tied to the system itself, hence the need for a full update.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0126See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – December 4, 201575

emoji1-1 Ars Technica

Additionally, Android 6.0.1 brings a change for the nav bar on Android tablets. According to Ars, the buttons are no longer centered. The back and home buttons now sit on the left side, while the overview (recent apps) button sits on the right. This is obviously a move to help tablet users more easily reach the buttons, but it does look quite odd a first glance.

Android 6.0.1 is also being counted as the monthly security update for the month of December, so users can also expect a number of security fixes and performance improvements in this update.

As was the case with Android 6.0, the update should be available for the Nexus 5, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 9. We’ll be sure to update you as we learn more.

Nexus in video

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Marshmallow 6.0.1 already hitting Android One devices

Cherry Mobile G1

This device (Cherry Mobile Android G1) seems to be the first handset to get Android 6.0.1.

Now that Marshmallow (Android 6.0) has been available for several weeks, it’s not surprising to find that there is already a 6.0.1 update hitting some devices. In this particular case, said devices are select Android One handsets. According to reports, only a limited number of users have received the update so far, however. Have a look:

According to a Google Search, the model number listed, H220, is the Cherry Mobile Android G1 for the Philippines. Curiously the Android security patch level is dated December 1, 2015 despite today being only November 22, 2015. Assuming the roll-out isn’t a mistake, it would seem to imply that Google has already finalized the updated built into said patch despite this month having just over a week left.

There is currently no information as to what this 6.0.1 update brings with it, however the general assumption around the internet is that it’s strictly related to bug fixes and stability improvements.

PhoneArena has reported that, “HTC ROM developer @LlabTooFeR has it that, after 6.0.1, Google is planning to roll out Android 6.1 Marshmallow, though this is expected to happen starting next year.” Assuming this is true, it would raise the question as to if Google will release 6.0.1 to other devices (such as the Nexus series) of simply go directly to 6.1.

We will have more on this story as it develops, but for now let’s all keep our eyes peeled for any updates that may land in the next few weeks.

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Samsung to release monthly security updates to its Android devices in wake of Stagefright exploit


A number of mobile devices on AT&T and Sprint have already begun receiving security patches for the Stagefright exploit in Android. Most of the devices that are already receiving updates are from Samsung, and that’s not a coincidence. The Korean tech company has just announced a new Android security update process that “fast tracks” security patches over the air when certain vulnerabilities are uncovered. These small updates will make their way to Samsung devices roughly once per month.

Prior to introducing this new update method, Samsung, like many other OEMs, would likely struggle to push out security patches in a timely fashion. Many security exploits are very time sensitive, so this is great news for owners of Samsung devices.

Security conceptSee also: Google on ‘Stagefright” exploit: not all Android bugs are this bad, thanks to Google’s security measures13417

Dong Jin Koh, Executive Vice President and Head of Mobile Research at Samsung Electronics explains:

Since software is constantly exploited in new ways, developing a fast response process to deliver security patches to our devices is critical to keep them protected. We believe that this new process will vastly improve the security of our devices and will aim to provide the best mobile experience possible for our users.

Google also recently announced a new initiative that will bring monthly security OTA updates to Nexus devices, in addition to regular platform updates. The updates from Google will also be available through AOSP.

Samsung says it’s working with carriers around the world to figure out a way to best implement this new update approach, and that more details on the new method will be released soon.

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New LG G4 teaser video shows off the device’s leather back

LG has just sent out a new 15-second teaser video, highlighting the upcoming G4’s leather backing. We’ve already gotten word from the company that the device will have a vegetable-tanned leather back, but it’s nice to see the device in action before its launch on the 28th.

LG hasn’t exactly kept quite about the G4’s specifications over the past few weeks. We know that the device will feature a 16MP rear-facing camera with an f/1.8 aperture, a big 5.5-inch QHD display, and will come with LG’s updated UX 4.0 software overlay. If you’re interested in learning more, a number of additional rumors and specifications can be found in our official LG G4 rumor roundup.

Are you excited for the G4’s leather back? Or would you rather have the device made of something else?

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Future Samsung devices rumored to support theme customization

samsung galaxy note 4 vs galaxy s5 quick look aa (3 of 7)

Those who bemoan the look of Samsung’s customized Touchwiz interface may have been pleased to hear that the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 were Samsung’s first Android phones to feature theme support, as well as new metallic bodies. There’s even better news for those into cosmetic customization, as sources are suggesting that Samsung is planning to make themes support a priority for all of its future devices.

The stock themes will apparently be similar to those included with the current Galaxy A series, but may also extend to include the changing of system fonts, sounds, and something else called Events. Events seem to allow for sysSamsung Theme Store logotem customization based on specific dates, such as birthdays or national holidays.

To facilitate easy switching of themes, the source suggests that Samsung is also planning to launch a theme store (see logo on the right). What isn’t clear at the moment is whether Samsung will also support third party themes or if customization choices will be locked to a small selection modelled on Samsung’s own tastes.

The anticipated Galaxy S6 could be the first flagship to show off Samsung’s new theme features. Would you like to see Samsung adopt a deeper level of theme support in the future, or could the company better spend its software resources on something else?

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