LIVING

Streaming Is Believing: Your Complete Guide To Media Streaming Devices

12/22/2014 10:25 EST | Updated 12/22/2014 11:59 EST
Getty Images

This holiday season, it may be time to cut the cord. (The cable cord, that is.)

Oh sure, there's still something to be said for live sports and day-and-date viewing, but it's clear the days of cable TV are waning, especially with Netflix, Shomi, Pandora, TMN Go, and Amazon Instant Video all offering so many TV series, movies, and specials on demand.

But if you're going to make the leap to the world of streaming, you're going to need the right peripherals to port the content onto your TV. Thankfully, from your Rokus to your Apple TVs, and everything in between, we've got you covered, with help from the huge selection of Media Streamers offered by Staples. Let’s get streaming!

Streaming Is Believing: Your Complete Guide To Media Streaming Devices

Roku 3

Called “The best streaming media player of 2014” by critics, the Roku 3 sits around the same price range as the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, but it's capable of so much more. It can access more than 1,500 channels of content (more than any of the competition) and the remote it comes with pulls double duty as a motion controller for video games. For ease of use, its interface is probably the simplest to get the hang of, with cross-platform search capabilities. Private listening is also available, thanks to the built-in headphone jack. The only drawback may be that you may not want 1,500 channels and most of them are very specifically themed to a niche interest.

Google Chromecast

By far the most budget-friendly streaming device on the market, the portable Chromecast is a must-have for any Android user looking for compatibility with their Google movies, TV, and music. However, it doesn't offer as many streaming channels as the Roku 3. Add to that the fact a tablet or smartphone is necessary to interface with the device, and things can get convoluted very quickly. Plus, Chromecast pulls everything from the cloud and won't be able to transfer media already stored on your tablet or smartphone onto your TV without the help of third-party software. Still, if you can work within its limitations, and like to stay within the Google family of products, the price alone may be worth it to you.

Apple TV

This is the reigning veteran of the streaming scene and it has a pretty decent offering, particularly if you already have mainly Apple products in your home. In addition to a decent 30 channel library that includes YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, ESPN and MLBTV, you also have complete access to your iTunes library and all your iTunes store purchases. The most noteworthy feature of Apple TV is AirPlay, which allows you to stream or mirror content from your iPhone or iPad (including from third party apps) onto your TV. Still, it remains a slight step behind the Roku 3 without as many features or content options at the same price point.

Roku Streaming Stick

Are you looking for something a little less obtrusive than a set-top box streamer, while keeping all the content and functionality of the regular Roku models? Well, the Roku Streaming Stick is the answer. While it's a simple plug n play device only a shade bigger than a memory stick, it features over 1,200 channels of content, including providers that the similar Chromecast views as competitors, like Amazon Instant Video, Spotify and Pandora. You can also port what you're watching on your smartphone to the TV through the YouTube and Netflix apps. It has the same easy interface of the regular Roku and the same great search options across content providers. The only thing that may turn you away is its rough compatibility with Apple and Android content, along with the knowledge that something sticking out your TV is not always aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re looking to really comparison shop and get down to brass tacks before you commit to a Media Streamer, Staples has the right balance of product selection and tech experts on hand to answer your every question. Now hurry; Netflix awaits!