The Nvidia Shield TV is a refined version of the best Android TV box for years, packed with impressive new AI-based upscaling technology and a novel space-saving design. The new Nvidia Shield TV comes in two versions: a £149.99 media streamer and a "Pro" alternative for £199 that is aimed more at gaming. For those unfamiliar with these types of media streaming devices, they in effect add a smart TV experience to older televisions or replace the often terrible or out-of-date smart elements of more modern sets, so that you can use apps such as Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Nvidia is arguably the biggest name in graphics, and also makes mobile chips called Tegra, on which these two Android TV boxes are based. The previous Shield was released in 2015 and, unlike many other smart TVs and streaming boxes, is being kept fresh with a steady stream of updates, making it the best, most supported Android TV experience available either baked into a TV or in a set-top box.
When I cut the cable TV cord nearly eight years ago, juggling multiple remote controls was a necessity. At minimum, you needed one for your television and another for your game console or streaming box. I used a third remote for a home theater PC, so I could access video websites that weren't yet available as streaming-TV apps. But over the past couple years, the need for multiple remotes has been slipping away, thanks to a decade-old HDMI feature called Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC). With this feature, streaming boxes such as Apple TV and Roku can control your television's power, volume, and input, making additional remotes unnecessary.
Black Friday is one of the best times of the year to buy a new streaming device for your TV, with discounts available on Roku players, Amazon Fire TV devices, Chromecast, and more. Still, not all of these deals are worth the money, especially if your current streaming device is in good working order. Roku has a few device deals going on Black Friday, some better than others. Most folks should avoid the Roku SE, a $20 streaming device that will be available only in Walmart brick-and-mortar stores. This device is nearly identical to the $30 Roku Express, with the same processing power and 1080p HD video support, but it has a white finish instead of black and different shortcut buttons.
The Fire TV Stick 4K is the media streamer that Amazon should have released years ago. Cooler than a Roku and much cheaper than an Apple TV, the new $50 streaming dongle offers 4K HDR video in every conceivable format while outperforming Amazon's more expensive Fire TV Cube ($120) and third-generation Fire TV ($70, now discontinued). It also corrects the stupidest mistake of previous Fire TV models by including TV volume and power controls on its remote control. Factor in powerful Alexa voice commands and you have a compelling 4K HDR streamer at any price, let alone the lowest price on the market. The Fire TV Stick 4K won't be for everyone.
Whether you've just gotten rid of cable or want to supplement your TV package with online video, now's an excellent time to buy a media streaming device. Compared to the typical smart TV, standalone streamers such as the Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon Fire TV tend to have bigger app selections, faster performance, and more features. And with so much competition between device makers, the hardware is becoming faster, more capable, and more affordable. We constantly test all the latest devices, including Roku players, Fire TV devices, Android TV devices, Apple TV, and Chromecast. We review each new generation of hardware and constantly revisit the software and app selection so we can help you determine which platform is right for you.