When you start researching video streaming devices, the first ones you’ll find will likely be Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV. Between those three there’s a decent price range, so your search can just stop there, right?
Wrong. While the most popular video streaming devices out there will likely be a good fit for many users, there are other options you should look at.
Perhaps you’re looking for more versatility? Maybe you’re a power user that wants something extremely tweakable? Are you looking for a cheap PlayStation alternative? Or you’re just looking for the cheapest possible option out there that also does 4K?
We’ve rounded up some of the lesser-known video streaming devices out there to ease your search.
China’s Xiaomi has a reputation for delivering solid products with top-notch specs for an impossibly low price. The company has done it with nearly every gadget you can think of — from smartphones to smart TVs to scooters, and with the Xiaomi Mi Box, it entered the video streaming space as well.
And yes, for the features it offers — Android TV 6.0, 4K streaming, HDR video support, DTS/Dolby Digital Plus support and a Bluetooth voice remote — the Mi Box is pretty darn cheap at $69. Add to that the elegant, simple, Apple-like design, and you get a pretty sweet deal.
Since the device is Android TV-based, you get a ton of apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Vevo, Vudu Plex, and Google Play Movies & TV. Google Cast is built in, so you’ll be able to send content to your TV from phones, laptops, tablets and more.
The specs are decent: quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU, MALI 450 GPU 2GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage (expandable via a USB port). And this is where you might find chinks in Mi Box’s armor: While these specs are decent, especially for the price, some users might want more powerful innards to power 4K playback.
Starting at $179, the Nvidia Shield is one of the most expensive video streaming devices, but hear us out. This device is an absolute powerhouse, with an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which should be enough for smooth 4K playback. It also supports HDR playback, Dolby Atmos/DTS-X audio, and comes with a remote, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 jacks, and an HDMI 2.0 jack. It runs Android TV, meaning you get the Google software experience and all the nice apps that go with it.
But besides being a great media-streaming machine, the Shield’s greatest strength is that it’s also a game console. Add $20 to the base price and you get a game controller (for $299 you also get 500GB of storage instead of 16GB). So what can you do with all that? Play games, of course! For $7.99 per month, you can subscribe to GeForce Now, which lets you play Android titles such as Outlast 2, Obduction, and The Surge as you would with a GTX 1080 GPU, and stream them to your big screen.
Obviously, you do not need this device if you only want a media streaming device, and that’s perfectly fine. But if price is no issue, and you’re not a big fan of Apple TV, the Nvidia Shield is pretty powerful, and one of the most versatile media streaming devices you’ll find.
Roku sells quite a few video streaming devices, so you’ll be forgiven if you’ve overlooked the Roku Express. Its specs are nothing special: You get 720p or 1080p resolution, a single HDMI jack, a remote… and that’s about it.
But where Roku Express wins is the price. At just $29.99, it’s the cheapest option out there (outside of no-name devices from China), and for the price, you also get a remote and an HDMI cable, so you’re ready to go pretty much as soon as you bring it home. It’s the perfect option for someone that’s just not sure whether she needs a media streaming device in their life, or as a secondary device for your bedroom.
Supported apps include the usual suspects: Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and Google Play Movies & TV, among others.
If you want all the latest bells and whistles, such as 4K resolution and HDR support, you can also check Roku’s most powerful video streaming device, the Roku Ultra. You’ll have to dish out three times the money, as it costs $99, but it’s still a pretty fair price for what you get.
Unlike the other devices in this list, Minix doesn’t have a big brand behind it, but it does have a pretty big following. This is because its video streaming devices are actually much more than that — they’re pretty powerful little computers with impressive specs and a plethora of connectors.
The company’s U9-H came out in 2017, but it’s still one of the best options for media streaming in Minix’s range. It’s got an octa-core, 64-bit, AmLogic S912 processor, a Mali-820 MP3 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It’s also got a serious array of output connectors: HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio, optical audio, Gigabit Ethernet, and three USB 2.0 ports. Add to that a microSD card reader and you’ll see that adding some serious storage to this baby is no issue.
Its predecessor, Minix U1, had a pretty big software shortcoming, as it ran on now very dated Android 5 Lollipop. Minix U9-H remedied this by switching to the next version, Android 6 Marshmallow, which makes it a lot more future-proof.
If you opt for a Minix, know that setting things up isn’t as easy on most other streaming devices — for example, installing something as common as Netflix can be a chore. But if you know your way around Android, you should be fine.
The Minix Neo U9-H can be had on Amazon for $159.90.
Evanpo’s hexagonal box, the awkwardly named Evanpo T95Z Plus, probably offers the best bang for the buck in terms of sheer specs. It comes in several variants, and the most powerful one sports an octa-core processor (same one as the Minix U9-H), 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, Android 7.1, a remote, and a wireless keyboard — and you get all that for $104.99.
The T95Z Plus can play 4K videos at 60fps, which should result in a very smooth picture. It also has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, meaning you can connect all sorts of peripherals to it. And did we mention the wireless, full-sized keyboard? No more fidgeting five seconds per letter on a numerical keyboard.
On the connectivity side, you get two USB 2.0 ports, a HDMI port, optical port and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
The biggest downsides of Evanpo are that it’s a lesser-known brand and that sometimes, getting everything to work as you want might be a more complex than, say, plugging an Amazon stick into your TV. But you’ll be rewarded with a myriad options that very few devices on the market offer.
“Snapchat needs reasons for teens to come back every day as it struggles to grow amidst competition from Instagram, so it’s capitalizing on its Los Angeles roots. Today Snapchat unveiled its fall slate of a dozen “Original” video shows including its first scripted programs from top producers like Keeping Up With The Kardashians creator Bunim/Murray and Friday Night Lights writer Carter Harris. There’s the supernatural soap opera Dead Girls Detective Agency, college comedy Co-Ed, and a docuseries about the “cash me outside” girl Bringing Up Bhabie.
The Snapchat Originals will appear in Discover, which will soon have a dedicated section for Shows, as well as new permanent Show Profile pages available through Snapchat search where users can sign up for push notifications when each episode is released. Reaction lenses make it easy to post about a Show’s biggest moments. And with new Show Portal lenses, users can stick an augmented reality doorway in their Snaps that they can walk through to explore a scene from the Show and then tap to watch that Show, allowing them to spread virally.
“Time spent watching shows on Snapchat has tripled this year alone” Snap’s VP of Original Content Sean Mills tells me. The stats on Snap’s previous 60 shows from CBS, Viacom, the NFL and others since the project launched two years ago made it clear there was an opportunity to double down, especially as original mobile programming efforts like…………………………”
The social media giants first global entry into TV, starring Elizabeth Olsen, is an unsentimental anatomisation of how essentially unknowable our loved ones really are
“For those of you who feel that the number of televisual tributaries already combine to produce a foaming cataract of entertainment impossible to navigate in any meaningful way, I have bad news. Facebook Watch Mark Zuckerbergs on-demand video service and latest attempt, launched last year in the US and now being rolled out internationally, to colonise our hearts, minds and homes is here. For those of you who like good telly, I have good news. Its lead initial offering, Sorry for Your Loss (Facebook Watch), is an endeavour fit to stand with the best of it.
Elizabeth Olsen, doing fine work in every sense on a much smaller, bleaker and more intense canvas than her most recent and famous incarnation as Scarlet Witch in the last three Avengers movies, plays grieving young widow Leigh Shaw who is just starting to try, with the help and hindrance of her family and brother-in-law, to pick up the pieces after her husband Matts death (the cause of which is not immediately clear) a few months earlier……………………………”
“Days after shuttering its dedicated gaming app, YouTube made some more big changes to how users discover content.
Now, YouTube’s trending tab breaks down what’s popular in five categories: music, live, gaming, news, and movies.
Trending on YouTube previously just displayed what videos were trending throughout a user’s country. YouTube said its algorithm takes a number of factors into consideration, such as view count and the rate of growth in views, among others.
Now, with all of those same ranking factors in place, YouTube is giving you the option of seeing what’s trending in those five aforementioned categories. It will also show you what’s trending across all of YouTube in your country.
On Friday afternoon, the top overall trending videos on YouTube consisted of Google’s video celebrating Mr. Rogers, NFL highlights, and a clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Each trending category page served up something completely different.
At the top of the trending page for music was the……………………….”