June 2021

TV Boxes and Sticks: Aggregated Ranking Report

This report contains an aggregate consensus of Streaming Player rankings posted by key online experts, as of June 2021.

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 June 2021 ranking

At a glance - June 2021 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Price Streaming Player
CNET
Tom's Guide
PCMag
TechRadar
TechHive
ZD Net
The Verge
Digital Trends
Reviewed
Business Insider
1
Check price Chromecast with Google TV
2
2
2
2
5
3
1
1
2
4
2
$160 Apple TV 4K
4
6
5
5
4
1
3
6
4
3
3
$90 Roku Ultra 2020
6
5
7
-
2
2
-
3
1
1
4
$39 Roku Streaming Stick+
3
1
6
-
-
-
2
2
3
-
5
$40 Amazon Fire TV Stick
8
-
1
-
1
-
-
-
5
5
6
$120 Amazon Fire TV Cube
-
4
3
4
3
-
-
7
6
-
7
$25 Roku Express
1
-
-
3
-
-
-
-
9
2
8
$30 Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite
5
-
-
6
-
4
4
-
-
-
9
$29 Roku Express 4K+
-
-
9
-
7
5
-
4
-
-
10
$150 Nvidia Shield
10
-
-
-
6
-
-
-
-
6
11
$200 Nvidia Shield TV Pro
-
3
-
1
-
-
5
5
-
-
12
$99 Roku Streambar
9
-
4
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
13
$30 TiVo Stream 4K
-
9
8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

We ranked Chromecast with Google TV #1 in June 2021 because:

  • 10 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 2 experts ranked Chromecast with Google TV as #1.
Critic endorsements:
CNET

0Second-Best Streamer Overall

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Tom's Guide

The Best Chromecast Streaming Device

Pros
Sensible layout
Lots of streaming services
Remote included

Cons
General Google searches poorly formatted

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PCMag

Our Top Pick Under $50

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

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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

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TechHive

Go to ranking

ZD Net

Better Than Ever

Pros
Affordable
Integrates with Google Home and Assistant
Finally has a remote

Cons
Doesn't offer more advanced video protocols

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The Verge

The Best Streaming Stick For Most People

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Digital Trends

The best streaming device

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Reviewed

BEST VALUE

Pros
Affordable
Very good remote
4K/HDR Support

Cons
No wired internet
Interface needs work

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Business Insider

THE BEST STREAMING DEVICE FOR GOOGLE USERS

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We ranked Apple TV 4K #2 in June 2021 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:
CNET

Best For Apple Fans

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

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PCMag

Best for Apple HomeKit Control

Pros
4K and HDR support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Strong Wi-Fi performance.
Siri with voice remote.

Cons
Expensive.
Apple's streaming apps selection is still relatively small.
Some apps not yet updated for 4K streaming.

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TechRadar

Best iOS Streaming Device

Pros
High-frame-rate HDR support
Redesigned Siri remote

Cons
Expensive
Doesn’t work with Android

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TechHive

Other options to consider

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ZD Net

It Has A New Siri Remote!

Pros
Access to Apple's App Store
A faster processor should future-proof the new box
New Siri Remote looks nice

Cons
Expensive compared to the competition

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The Verge

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

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Digital Trends

The best streaming device for Apple lovers

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Reviewed

Pros
Supports higher-end TVs
Good-looking interface
Easy to navigate

Cons
Expensive
Remote difficult to use

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Business Insider

THE BEST HIGH-END STREAMING BOX

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We ranked Roku Ultra 2020 #3 in June 2021 because:

  • 6 independent experts mentioned it in their “best TV Boxes and Sticks” rankings.
  • Out of those, 2 experts ranked Roku Ultra 2020 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
CNET

Best For Convenience,Wired Streaming

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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

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PCMag

Lets You Easily Listen With Headphones

Pros
Fast performance
AirPlay and Dolby Vision support
Remote has a headphone jack for private listening

Cons
Expensive
Still doesn't have a fully functional voice assistant
Missing HBO Max and Twitch

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TechHive

Runner-up.

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ZD Net

Everything You Could Want From A Streaming Box

Pros
Does just about everything you'd want from a streaming box
Built-in remote finder? What's not to love
Wide range of apps and service support

Cons
The built-in voice assistant could use some work

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Digital Trends

The best premium streaming device

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Reviewed

BEST OVERALL

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

Cons
More expensive than streaming sticks

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Business Insider

THE BEST STREAMING BOX OVERALL

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We ranked Roku Streaming Stick+ #4 in June 2021 because:

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

Third Runner-Up

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Tom's Guide

Best Streaming Device Overall

Pros
Inexpensive
Full 4K HDR capabilities
Huge app selection

Cons
Remote lacks an audio jack
Search could be deeper

Go to ranking

PCMag

Longer Wireless Range Than the Express 4K+

Pros
Affordable.
Snappy performance.
Powerful Wi-Fi.
Supports 4K video with HDR10.
Lots of content available in the Roku Channel Store.

Cons
No Dolby Vision HDR support.
Voice search is much more limited than on other media streamers.

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The Verge

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

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Digital Trends

The best streaming stick

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Pros
Streams HDR and 4K content
Remote includes voice-control

Cons
Only works over WiFi

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We ranked Amazon Fire TV Stick #5 in June 2021 because:

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

Best For 4K Streamer for Amazon Fans

Go to ranking

PCMag

Amazon's Most Affordable 4K Streamer

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

Cons
No Google Play apps
Ethernet adapter not included

Go to ranking

TechHive

Best 4K HDR streaming device

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Reviewed

Pros
Supports all major streaming services
Excellent remote

Cons
Favors Amazon content

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Business Insider

THE BEST STREAMING STICK WITH ALEXA

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We ranked Amazon Fire TV Cube #6 in June 2021 because:

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

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PCMag

Affordable Streaming for Older 1080p TVs

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

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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

TechHive

Best voice-controlled media streamer

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Digital Trends

The best streaming device for those who want to ditch their remotes

Go to ranking

Reviewed

Pros
Able to control all your smart devices

Cons
Unreliable voice control
Expensive

Go to ranking

We ranked Roku Express #7 in June 2021 because:

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

Best Streamer Overall

Go to ranking

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

Reviewed

Pros
Access to Roku's full platform

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

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Business Insider

THE BEST BUDGET STREAMING BOX

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We ranked Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite #8 in June 2021 because:

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

Best Budget Streamer

Go to ranking

TechRadar

Best Budget Streaming Device

Pros
60fps and HDR
Good value

Cons
Only HD streaming
Persistent ads

Go to ranking

ZD Net

Affordable Streaming

Pros
Affordable
Reliable experience
Respectable streaming catalog

Cons
No 4K support

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The Verge

The Best Streaming Stick If You're In Amazons Ecosystem

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We ranked Roku Express 4K+ #9 in June 2021 because:

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

Roku's Most Affordable 4K Streamer

Pros
4K streaming with HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG
Easy, uncomplicated interface
Supports Apple AirPlay 2

Cons
Voice search feels underdeveloped
No Dolby Vision support

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TechHive

Go to ranking

ZD Net

4K for only $40

Pros
4K for $40
Voice Remote included

Cons
Doesn't support Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision

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Digital Trends

The best budget streaming device

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We ranked Nvidia Shield #10 in June 2021 because:

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

Best for Gamers

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TechHive

Go to ranking

Business Insider

The best streaming player for gamers

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We ranked Nvidia Shield TV Pro #11 in June 2021 because:

  • 2 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

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TechRadar

Best 4K Streaming Device

Pros
AI Upscaling
Google Assistant built in

Cons
No Apple TV app
No USB ports for extra storage

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The Verge

Best Streaming Device For Home Theater Enthusiasts And Gamers

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Digital Trends

The best streaming device for gamers

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We ranked Roku Streambar #12 in June 2021 because:

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

Best Soundbar-Streaming Combo

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PCMag

Solid Sound With Your Streaming

Pros
Affordable
Solid audio performance
Lots of media streaming options
Remote with headphone jack

Cons
Relatively weak bass response

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We ranked TiVo Stream 4K #13 in June 2021 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

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PCMag

Ideal for Sling TV Users

Pros
Affordable
Android TV and Google Assistant functionality
Live TV support through Locast and Sling
Supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision

Cons
TiVo Stream and stock Android TV interfaces aren't quite as sleek as competitors
Remote is a little clunky

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