Best Smart TV Sticks to buy | Amazon Fire v NOW TV v Roku v Google Chromecast

Get the low down on the streaming devices on offer from NOW TV, Amazon, Roku and Google

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streaming sticks

Don’t have a Smart TV that allows you to stream your favourite shows? No problem: a simple stick plugged in the back of your box will allow you to access apps such as Netflix, Amazon or BBC iPlayer. And for a reasonably low cost.

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But which smart stick is actually best? Scroll below to find the device for you.

Now TV Smart Stick

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Cost: £14.99 (buy from NOW TV now)

Compatible with: Most major streaming apps including Netflix and NOW TV. However, NOW TV devices do not allow you to access the Amazon Prime Video app.

Voice remote: Yes

The cheapest device on this list, we highly recommend the NOW TV stick if you’re looking to access Sky content.

What does the remote and stick look like?

The stick is the most compact in this list, about the size of a normal USB drive.

Similarly, the remote is fairly compact, yet still contains a voice-search function. The right-hand side of the remote also contains handy volume control buttons.

What content can I watch with the NOW TV stick?

You can watch the content provided by various NOW TV passes – Entertainment, Movies, Sports, Kids or Hayu – on the device.

Note: each pass comes at a monthly cost. The home screen will list all passes available, whether you’ve purchased them or not.

If you’ve got an Entertainment pass you’ll be able to watch the following channels live: Sky Atlantic, Sky 1, Fox, Gold, Sky Living, Comedy Central, Discovery, MTV, Sky Witness, Sky Arts and Nat Geo Wild.

The stick also allows access to free catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, alongside Netflix, All4 and My5. However, Amazon Prime Video is not available on the app.

You can download other apps via the interface’s App store. You can see the full list of available apps here.

What other streaming devices are available from NOW TV?

The Smart Stick isn’t the only device you can buy from NOW TV. There’s also the NOW TV Smart Box (£45.99), which supports 4K streaming.

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Apart from 4K viewing, the box has many of the same features as the stick.

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Amazon Fire Stick

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Cost: £39.99 (buy from Amazon now)

Compatible with: Most major streaming apps including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, NOW TV is not available to download on Amazon devices.

Voice remote: Yes

One of the market leaders, the Fire TV stick plugs directly back into your TV and has more storage (8GB) for apps and games than any other streaming media device on this list.

What does the Amazon Fire Stick and remote look like?

The stick itself looks like a small USB drive. But don’t worry if it’s still too big to fit in the back of your set: it comes with a handy HDMI extender.

The sleek remote is less colourful than other entries on this list, using a black-based design. You can also use your phone as a remote by downloading the Fire TV app (this allows you to search for titles and apps using a QWERTY keyboard – a real time-saver).

What content can I watch with the Amazon Fire Stick? 

The stick allows you to stream TV and films from Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and more.

The interface also advertises films you can buy/rent through Amazon. The device also allows web browsing.

However, you won’t be able to access the NOW TV app through this device.

What other streaming devices are available from Amazon?

Aside from the Fire Stick, you can also purchase these streaming devices from Amazon…

Fire TV Stick 4K (£49.99) – virtually the same stick the Fire, but allows 4K viewing.

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Fire TV Cube (£109.99) – not only does this larger streaming device allow 4K viewing, but it comes with a built-in speaker and allows far-field voice control of your TV.

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You can see a comparison of the devices below…

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Google Chromecast

chromecast

Cost: £30 (buy from Google Store now)

Compatible with: Most major streaming apps including Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video content

Voice remote: No remote.

Chromecast is no usual streaming device. Rather than hosting apps on the stick itself, it allows users to stream content from other devices you own, including your laptop, tablet and phone.

What does the remote and stick look like?

Although originally a stick, the third-generation Chromecast is a pebble-like device with a cable attached.

Chromecast doesn’t actually come with a remote: you have to control it from another device (your phone, tablet or laptop) via the Google Home app. However, you can also start shows or films with voice commands, using your Google Assistant.

What content can I watch with the Chromecast stick?

Chromecast is compatible with many of the main streaming apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. You can see a full list of available apps here.

To watch TV using Chromecast, all you need to do is open up a streaming app and press the ‘cast’ button, which looks like…

Chrome cast

Chromecast can also mirror your laptop screen, which easily allows you to surf the web on your TV or view photos and presentations on a large screen.

What other streaming devices are available from Google?

Google also offers the Chromecast Ultra (£69), which allows streaming in 4K.

google-chromecast ultra

Roku Express

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Cost: £29.99 (buy now from Roku)

Compatible with: Most major streaming apps including Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video.

Voice remote: No

The company that started off the streaming stick revolution almost ten years ago, Roku’s device is great for viewers who want to stream from multiple apps.

What does the remote and stick look like?

The stick itself isn’t actually a stick, but a compact box that you can attach to your TV.

The Roku remote looks extremely similar to the one you’ll find with the NOW TV stick (NOW TV is actually powered by Roku). Like the NOW TV device, the Roku remote comes with volume controls down its right-hand side.

Like the Amazon Fire TV stick, you can also turn your phone or tablet into a TV remote by downloading the Roku app.

What content can I watch with the Roku Express?

Unlike the NOW TV and Amazon Fire TV devices, you can stream TV from the Netflix, Prime Video and NOW TV apps on the Roku stick.

The device also allows access to common streaming UK apps including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My 5 and YouTube. You can also purchase titles from Google Play Movies & TV, the Sky Store and Wuaki.tv through Roku devices..

What other products are available from Roku?

Roku also offers other products such as…

Roku Premiere (£39.99) – Virtually the same specs as the Roku, the Premiere allows 4K streaming.

Roku Streaming Stick+ (£49.99) – Also offering 4K streaming, the Stick+ also offers an improved remote with voice commands. The stick also comes with a long-range wireless receiver, which is perfect for TV sets based a fair distance from your wifi router.

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