September 2022

TV Boxes and Sticks: Meta Ranking Report

This report contains an aggregate consensus of Streaming Player rankings posted by key online experts, as of September 2022.

Summary

As of 7 Sep 2022, Google Chromecast takes the cake as the most critically-acclaimed streaming player with 10 expert endorsements. 1 experts out of 10 recommended it as the '#1 streaming player' this month. It is followed by Apple TV 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K , with 10 and 6 expert endorsements respectively.

At a glance - September 2022 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Change Price Streaming Player
TechRadar
Tom's Guide
Business Insider
IGN
WIRED
Digital Trends
TechHive
Reviewed
PCMag
The Verge
1
- $40
Google Chromecast
4
3
4
5
2
5
5
2
2
1
2
- $169
Apple TV 4K
2
7
3
4
4
1
4
4
8
3
3
- $48
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
-
1
-
-
-
3
1
3
5
2
4
- $90
Roku Ultra 2020
-
8
1
1
-
-
-
1
7
-
5
- $55
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
-
5
5
2
3
4
-
-
-
4
6
- $150
Nvidia Shield
-
4
6
3
-
2
6
-
-
5
7
- $70
Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
-
6
-
6
1
-
-
-
6
-
8
- Check price
Amazon Fire TV Cube
6
9
-
-
-
-
-
7
4
-
9
- $39
Roku Express 4K+
-
2
-
-
-
-
2
5
-
-
10
- Check price
Amazon Fire TV Stick
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
6
1
-
11
- $24
Roku Express
5
-
2
-
-
-
-
9
-
-
13
- $30
TiVo Stream 4K
-
11
-
-
7
-
-
-
-
-

We ranked Google Chromecast #1 in September 2022 because:

  • 10 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Google Chromecast as #1.
Critic endorsements:
TechRadar

Best All-Rounder

Pros
4K HDR with Dolby Vision
Google Assistant built in
Comes with a remote

Cons
Slow to load at startup
Google TV UI is uninspired
No Google Stadia support

Go to ranking

Tom's Guide

The Best Chromecast Streaming Device

Pros
Sensible layout
Lots of streaming services
Remote included

Cons
General Google searches poorly formatted

Go to ranking

Business Insider

The best streaming device for Google users

Pros
4K HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10+
Google Assistant voice remote
built-in interface and casting capabilities

Cons
Minor glitches
some lag

Go to ranking

IGN

Best Android TV Streaming Stick

Go to ranking

WIRED

For Google TV or Phone Streaming

Go to ranking

Digital Trends

Everything you want in a Chromecast

Pros
Affordable
Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support
Slick UI
Responsive
Integrated Google Assistant

Cons
Dolby Vision always on by default
Recommendation algorithm still learning

Go to ranking

TechHive

Best media streamer for Android users

Pros
Unified streaming guide means less digging through apps
Google Assistant makes finding and sorting through content easier
Neat features like casting, Google Photos wallpaper, and multi-room audio

Cons
Guide integration varies by app
No support for multiple profiles (yet)

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Best value

Pros
Affordable
Very good remote
4K/HDR Support

Cons
No wired internet
Interface needs work

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best for Google Assistant / Editors' Choice

Pros
Attractive, accessible new Google TV interface
4K with HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Useful Google Assistant and Cast features
Affordable

Cons
Live TV tab only supports YouTube TV

Go to ranking

The Verge

The Best Streaming Stick For Most People

Go to ranking

We ranked Apple TV 4K #2 in September 2022 because:

  • 10 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Apple TV 4K as #1.
Critic endorsements:
TechRadar

Best iOS Streaming Device

Pros
High-frame-rate HDR support
Redesigned Siri remote

Cons
Expensive
Doesn’t work with Android

Go to ranking

Tom's Guide

Best Streaming Device for Apple Device Owners

Pros
New, improved remote
High frame rate HDR streaming
Multi-user support

Cons
Expensive
Not noticeably better than first-gen

Go to ranking

Business Insider

The best high-end streaming box

Pros
Well-designed interface
4K and HDR
can serve as a HomeKit hub, new model has HDMI 2.1

Cons
Expensive compared to the competition

Go to ranking

IGN

Best 4K Streaming Box for Apple Households

Go to ranking

WIRED

For Apple Purists

Go to ranking

Digital Trends

The best overall streaming device

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

Cons
Expensive

Go to ranking

TechHive

Best high-end media streamer

Pros
Superior speed, polish, and remote control
No interface-cluttering ads or aggressive data collection
Siri and the TV app help make sense of streaming

Cons
No hands-free voice control
Hybrid touchpad directional pad can feel awkward
It’s still pretty expensive for a streaming player

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Editor's Choice

Pros
Great remote
Has Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
Works great with Apple gear

Cons
Stale design
Pricier than competition

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best for HomeKit Control

Pros
Improved remote
Plenty of useful features including AirPlay, HomeKit, and Siri
Dolby Vision support
Comes with a free year of Apple TV+

Cons
Expensive
Interface and remote tend to funnel you into the Apple TV app

Go to ranking

The Verge

The Best Streaming Device Overall Experience (FOR A STEEP PRICE)

Go to ranking

Methodology: combine opinions of key experts

Identify Experts

We identify key publishers and experts that consistently review and recommend TV Boxes and Sticks.

Capture Rankings

For each publisher we find a currently recommended "top 10" list of TV Boxes and Sticks, it must be updated in the last 9 months.

Aggregate Rankings

We put all those lists together and aggregate them. The more frequently a product is recommended, the higher it is in our ranking

Experts chosen for September 2022 ranking

We ranked Roku Streaming Stick 4K #3 in September 2022 because:

  • 6 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 2 experts ranked Roku Streaming Stick 4K as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

Best streaming device overall

Pros
Relatively affordable
Full 4K HDR capabilities
Finally has Dolby Vision

Cons
Dolby Atmos is missing
Amazon offers better live TV integration

Go to ranking

Digital Trends

The best of the inexpensive streaming devices: A three-way tie

Pros
Affordable
Easy to use
All the features you want

Cons
Roku's advertising scheme means tracking

Go to ranking

TechHive

Best media streamer for most people

Pros
Fast, fluid performance with dependable Wi-Fi connectivity
Easy-to-operate interface with powerful voice control features
Full of nice touches that other cheap streamers lack, such as AirPlay and a Replay button

Cons
Discovering and tracking shows could be a lot easier
No Dolby Atmos support or IR control for external sound systems
Only supports wireless connections

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Editor's Choice

Pros
Simple and intuitive interface
Dolby Vision and HDR10+
Great remote

Cons
No Ethernet option
No onboard storage

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best for Affordable AirPlay and Dolby Vision

Pros
Fast, responsive performance
Sleek, small design
Supports Apple AirPlay and Dolby Vision

Cons
Voice features still lag those of Amazon Fire TV and Google TV
No Twitch app available
5GHz Wi-Fi hiccup in testing

Go to ranking

The Verge

The Best Streaming Device For People Who Want To Keep It Simple

Go to ranking

We ranked Roku Ultra 2020 #4 in September 2022 because:

  • 5 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 3 experts ranked Roku Ultra 2020 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

Best Streaming Device For External Media

Pros
Great performance
Inventive remote control
Dolby Vision HDR

Cons
Expensive
Not much has changed since last year's model

Go to ranking

Business Insider

The best streaming box overall

Pros
4K HDR streaming with Dolby Vision and HDR10+
Bluetooth voice remote
lots of apps
improved Wi-Fi connection
Ethernet
USB port

Cons
A bit pricey

Go to ranking

IGN

Best Streaming Device

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Best overall

Pros
Best-in-class remote
4K/HDR and Dolby Vision
Fast, with wired internet

Cons
More expensive than streaming sticks

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best Connection Options

Pros
Voice Remote Pro features hands-free voice control, a headphone jack, and remote finder function
Supports Apple AirPlay 2
Strong media app selection

Cons
Voice features still lag behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
No Twitch app

Go to ranking

We ranked Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max #5 in September 2022 because:

  • 6 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

Best Amazon streaming device for most people

Pros
Faster performance
Neat live TV intergration
All of the apps

Cons
Amazon and ad content abound
Should just be new 4K Fire Stick

Go to ranking

Business Insider

Best streaming stick with Alexa

Pros
4K streaming
Alexa voice control
compact
speedy navigation
support for all major HDR formats

Cons
Fire TV interface is cluttered
not a huge upgrade over previous model

Go to ranking

IGN

Best Budget Streaming Device

Go to ranking

WIRED

For Amazon Lovers

Go to ranking

Digital Trends

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

Pros
Better processor and Wi-Fi
Includes the new remote control
Still extremely affordable

Cons
Built on an aging version of Android

Go to ranking

The Verge

The Best Streaming Stick If You're In Amazons Ecosystem

Go to ranking

We ranked Nvidia Shield #6 in September 2022 because:

  • 6 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

Best Premium Streaming Device

Pros
Excellent game-streaming
Quick rendering of UHD content
Lots of great apps

Cons
AI upscaling doesn't add that much
Somewhat expensive

Go to ranking

Business Insider

The best streaming player for gamers

Pros
4K support
Dolby Vision capabilities
support for a separate gaming controller
Android TV operating system
powerful processor

Cons
Expensive
most buyers don't need the extra power

Go to ranking

IGN

Best 4K Streaming Device

Go to ranking

Digital Trends

The next-best streaming device

Pros
Great for game streaming
Good variety of apps
Excellent upscaling

Cons
Doesn't come with a game controller
No included HDMI cable

Go to ranking

TechHive

Best media streamer for power users

Pros
Impressive performance and AI-powered 4K upscaling
Top-notch remote with backlit buttons
Convenient home screen with no distracting banner ads

Cons
Tube design is a bit awkward
Setup takes some fine-tuning

Go to ranking

The Verge

Best Streaming Device For Home Theater Enthusiasts And Gamers

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We ranked Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ #7 in September 2022 because:

  • 4 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

For $20 more the best streaming device gets a better remote

Pros
Voice Remote Pro eliminates batteries
Snappy 4K HDR streaming
Gains Dolby Vision

Cons
No Dolby Atmos
Not a big upgrade from previous model

Go to ranking

IGN

Best Streaming Stick

Go to ranking

WIRED

Best Overall

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best Remote

Pros
Plenty of apps and services
Hands-free voice control
Headphone jack on remote
Apple AirPlay support

Cons
Voice search feature still lags behind Alexa and Google Assistant
No Twitch

Go to ranking

We ranked Amazon Fire TV Cube #8 in September 2022 because:

  • 4 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
TechRadar

Best Alexa Streaming Device

Pros
Voice Control
Built-in Alexa

Cons
Panders to Amazon Prime
No HDMI cable in the box

Go to ranking

Tom's Guide

Best Voice Control in A Streaming Device

Pros
Speedier performance
Alexa's cable box controls are great
Great 4K HDR picture quality

Cons
Home screen can't be edited, packs ads
Awkward Ethernet adapter

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Pros
Able to control all your smart devices

Cons
Unreliable voice control
Expensive

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best for Hands-Free Alexa Voice Control / Editors' Choice

Pros
Hands-free Alexa voice support
Infrared blaster can control your home theater by voice
Fast performance
Supports all major HDR formats

Cons
Expensive compared with smaller 4K media streamers

Go to ranking

We ranked Roku Express 4K+ #9 in September 2022 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

The Best Streaming Device Under $40

Pros
Excellent 4K HDR performance
Decent navigation
Improved remote

Cons
Awkward design
No Dolby Vision or Atmos

Go to ranking

TechHive

Best budget-priced media streamer

Pros
4K HDR streamer with snappy performance and capable remote
Full of nice little touches like private listening and closed-caption replay
Adds AirPlay to any TV for cheap

Cons
Wi-Fi performance could be better
No unified streaming guide
No Dolby Vision support

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Pros
Simple interface
Excellent smart home support
AirPlay 2

Cons
No Dolby Vision
No headphones jack on remote

Go to ranking

We ranked Amazon Fire TV Stick #10 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Amazon Fire TV Stick as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Reviewed

Pros
Supports all major streaming services
Excellent remote

Cons
Favors Amazon content

Go to ranking

PCMag

Best for Amazon Users / Editors' Choice

Pros
Affordable
Supports 4K with HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Amazon Alexa
Quick Wi-Fi streaming and menu navigation

Cons
Ethernet adapter not included

Go to ranking

We ranked Roku Express #11 in September 2022 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
TechRadar

Best HD Streaming Device

Pros
Roku TV interface
Great app support
Super cheap

Cons
Basic IR remote
Can’t stream 4K HDR content
Super short HDMI cable

Go to ranking

Business Insider

The best budget streaming box

Pros
Cheap
compact design
easy-to-use
built-in OS

Cons
Doesn't support 4K or HDR
no voice remote
no Ethernet

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Pros
Access to Roku's full platform

Cons
Remote lacks voice-control, power/volume buttons
Video maxes at 1080p
Requires HDMI

Go to ranking

We ranked TiVo Stream 4K #12 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Tom's Guide

A compelling UHD streamer with Android TV apps

Pros
Speedy 4K streaming
Supports most if not all services and apps
Remote offers easy access to live TV

Cons
Constrained live TV offering
Poor recommendations

Go to ranking

WIRED

If None of Those Appeal to You

Go to ranking