5 things to think about when you're choosing a TV streaming device
If you don't have a smart TV – one that connects to the internet – and you want to be able to watch things like Netflix and YouTube on your TV, a streaming device (usually a stick or a box) lets you do that easily. It plugs straight into your TV and connects to your home broadband. It's controlled through its own remote, or an app.
1. How good is the wifi in your house
Streaming TV programmes needs a good-quality WiFi connection, or a wire. If your home wifi isn't great where your TV is – for instance, you find that YouTube videos on your phone take a long time to load – then it'd be sensible to consider a streaming device that offers a wired option.
The socket, or 'port' as it’s known, is called Ethernet, and it looks similar to the one that plugs your landline phone into the wall. Bear in mind that you'll need an ethernet cable between your broadband hub and the streaming stick. A wired connection is faster and more stable than wif, so for people with weaker wireless internet, it can really help.
Streaming devices that offer an ethernet port include the Google Chromecast Ultra, the 4K Amazon Fire TV, the Now TV Smart TV Box and Apple TV.
2. Do you have a 4K TV?
If your TV is capable of 4K (otherwise known as ultra-HD, or UHD) quality, you'll want one of the higher-end streaming devices to do it justice. Otherwise, you might find that TV programmes and movies from your streaming stick look a bit fuzzy on your high-powered TV screen.
3. Do you want voice control?
If you often have your hands full, you might appreciate voice control. The Amazon Fire TV Stick and 4K Fire TV Stick include Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, and you can use that to find what you want to watch. Just say (out loud) "Alexa, find romantic comedies" and they'll pop up on your TV. If you're watching something on Amazon Video, you can also fast forward and rewind by voice.
Apple TV also offers voice control, but instead of Alexa, you speak to Siri (like on an iPhone).
4. Do you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch?
You can watch TV programmes and films, play games, and use AirPlay to send content from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to the TV.
5. Do you have Amazon Prime?
An Amazon Prime subscription comes with Amazon Prime Video, which includes lots of free films and TV (as well as lots more you can buy or rent).
If you already have a Prime subscription, it's worth considering the Amazon Fire TV Stick and 4K Fire TV Stick to make the most of that content. You can also use it to watch things like YouTube and Netflix.
All of the streaming devices offer a slightly different mix of apps and services, and they change sometimes too. Before you pick a purchase, double-check to make sure your favourites are included.