Media devices are a great component for your home theater system, giving you the ability to connect to the internet and stream your favorite shows, channels, music, and beyond. They give you so much flexibility in what you can watch and listen to, and some are even packed with more technology-advanced features, like voice recognition controls and smart home integration.
Here are our top recommended picks!
The Fire TV Cube (Click for Link to Amazon) is our top pick for a media device for your home theater because it really goes above and beyond in design, features, and flexibility at a great price. The Fire TV Cube is a 100% hands-free, voice recognition media device. Unlike the many other streaming devices, both recent and older, the Fire TV Cube gives you the ability to control your TV or screen without a remote, with the help of Alexa. Even though it does come with a remote, you can say goodbye to the days of losing the remote and not being able to access your devices properly.
When you want to turn on your favorite show or channel, the Fire TV Cube can easily hear you from far away with eight microphones and beamforming technology. It also allows you to search for, play, pause, fast forward and control your shows to your desire, including the volume, with no remote needed. You can easily hook up your home theater lighting and have Alexa dim the lights, once you put on your show or movie. With the Fire TV Cube, you can even control your cable or satellite channels hands-free at any place in the room.
As far as compatibility goes, the Fire TV Cube was built to be compatible with the latest technology, including 4K Ultra HD up to 60 fps, HDR and Dolby Atmos. It also comes with 16 GB of storage. Lastly, the Fire TV Cube is always updating to become smarter. Because of its compatibility with the latest technology and giving us access to the latest features in smart devices, the Fire TV Cube is the easy choice for our top pick in media devices today.
While the classic Fire TV Stick has been a frontrunner for media devices over recent years, the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote is even better. It has many features that are similar to the Fire TV Stick 4K with Echo Dot and Fire TV Cube at half the price. The major differences are that you have to have the remote for all of the voice-activated features, and you don't have a standalone smart home device.
However, you’ll get 4K Ultra HD clarity and compatibility with Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR, and HDR10+, and it comes with a good amount of storage for apps and games at 8 GB. It also accesses all the great Alexa features, such as checking the weather, viewing live camera feeds, dimming your lights, and streaming music.
The Fire TV Stick 4K with Echo Dot utilizes both the Alexa Voice Remote and the Echo Dot for voice-activated controls. It has all the same great features of the Fire TV Stick 4K, such as access to 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+, however, there are some things you should know about it if you're trying to connect to non 4K TVs (our guide). It has a few more bells and whistles, and it is a competitive alternative to the Fire TV Cube. The main difference from the Fire TV Cube is that all its features can’t be accessed without a remote.
The Alexa Voice Remote has dedicated power, volume, and mute buttons, as well as the ability to control your TV, soundbar, and receiver by voice with the remote near you. With the super popular Echo Dot pairing, you can utilize its many smart features from anywhere in the room without a remote, such as playing your content on the TV, checking the weather, reading the news, setting alarms, controlling compatible smart home devices, and help with many other requests.
Apple TV 4K is a bit pricier than the Fire TV media devices, but it comes with great features for Apple lovers. There are two options for storage: 32 GB and 64 GB, and each come with 4K High Dynamic Range, supporting Dolby Vision, HDR10, and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound. It has a 10X Fusion chip for ultra-fast graphics and performance.
Siri is your voice search companion, and you speak into the Siri Remote for voice activated services. It is a great companion for the iPhone and iPad, which easily integrate to view photos and videos from your devices onto your TV. You also get access to thousands of apps in the App Store, and it is compatible with HD TVs, UHD TVs with HDMI, and Bluetooth keyboards.
While the classic Apple TV is a great option, it is worth the extra few bucks to get the 4K version to make sure it will last you a long time, and the video and compatibility features are well worth it.
The Roku Premiere is the 4K compatible version of the slightly cheaper Roku Express, and it’s a better option due to its ability to last you longer with future TV purchases. The Roku Premiere doesn’t come with quite the bells and whistles as a media device with Siri or Alexa, but the price makes up for that. It is a great option for a basic streaming device with high compatibility, giving you the ability to stream in HD, 4K, or HDR.
It comes with access to The Roku Channel, which has popular movies and shows at no charge, as well as all of the streaming services you can possibly need. Use the Roku mobile app, available on iOS or Android, to control the Roku player, access voice search, cast to your TV, enable private listening, and search with your device’s keyboard. If you’re looking for a basic streaming device at a great price that will last you into future TV purchases, this is your ticket.
If you’re interested in having your own personal multimedia server without having to install a third-party player, the Synology DS218+ 2 bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) media server is the great choice for you. A NAS media server gives you the ability to watch content on a connected TV or stream it through your home network on various devices.
It’s simple to set up, and you can easily transfer any files you want, as well as install any apps. It is meant to be on at all times, giving you access to any content you’d like at any time. Stream 4K to 1080p videos across your TV and any other device with the security and durability of having your files on a computer-like system.
The Synology 2 Bay NAS comes with two hard drive bays with 2 GB of pre-installed RAM, which is expandable to 6 GB, and it has a maximum raw capacity of 24 TB with expansion units. It has a dual-core 2.0GHz processor, and for another great NAS media server with a faster, quad-core 2.0GHz processor, the QNAP TS-251+ 2 Bay NAS is a great choice at a slightly higher price tag.
We chose the Samsung BD-J6300, however, the Samsung BD-J5100 was a close contender for our top Blu-ray player. The BD-J6300 is our pick because of its compatibility with 4K TVs since there are so many cheaper 4K TVs on the market now. If you’re considering a Blu-ray player for your media device, it’s essential that this is a built-in feature.
It comes with a 4K HDMI 2.0 cable and has built-in support for your home theater surround sound, as well as Wi-Fi for your streaming apps. It gives you access to your favorite web and TV content by syncing and streaming with built-in Dual Band Wireless, and it even upscales any content to near-UHD quality to experience up to 4 times the resolution.
The choice for the best media device for your home theater depends on what features you’d like and what type of technology you’re planning to utilize it with. All of these recommended devices are built to be compatible with 4K TVs. While even more technologically-advanced TVs are out now, it will be a while until the price tags become affordable.
If you’re looking for a hands-free, highly compatible, technologically-advanced media device, you’ll definitely want to go with our top pick, the Fire TV Cube or the comparable option, the Fire TV Stick 4K with Echo Dot. For a solid streaming device that has minimal hands-free features at a great price, the Roku Premiere should be your choice. And if you are a die-hard Apple fan that has to have everything Apple, you may opt for the Apple TV 4K, even though the price is a bit high comparatively.
At any rate, be sure to check out all of these options and browse through the different features and find out which one is right for you and your needs. Happy hunting!