The best streaming sticks for Netflix, Amazon Video and Disney+.

Streaming sticks from Amazon, Google and Co. also make old TVs smart. With them, streaming apps and media libraries can be used on the TV. Retrofitting is neither expensive nor complicated. But which models are worth it?

Anyone who has bought a new TV in the last five years can, in most cases, stream content from the Internet with it: Whether it’s Sunday night’s missed crime scene via the media library or movies via streaming providers. Smart TVs connected to the Internet make users less dependent on linear television and offer countless new content options. But even if there’s still an older TV at home, owners don’t have to do without direct access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and the like. With a streaming stick or box, the old TV becomes smart. In addition, users can get apps on the TV that its system would otherwise not offer.

What makes a good streaming stick?

Den alten Fernseher smart aufrüsten, aber wie? Eine sehr gute Ton- und Bildqualität sind für die atechbook-Redaktion selbstverständliche Auswahlkriterien. Aber jeder Streaming-Stick hat darüber hinaus unterschiedliche Ausstattungen: von den Apps, die man damit aufrufen kann, über die Operating systeme bis zu den Connectionsn und Kompatibilitätsoptionen. Alle diese Aspekte sollte man sich im Vorfeld genau ansehen, um das Passende für das Heimkino zu finden, und um sich natürlich zu fragen: Wie genau möchte ich den Streaming-Stick einsetzen, welche Streaming services habe ich bereits oder möchte ich abonnieren? Man greift schnell zur bekanntesten Marke, aber vielleicht lohnt sich auch ein Stick eines anderen Herstellers für die individuelle Anwendung.

The pioneer: Google Chromecast with Google TV

The pioneer among streaming sticks is Google’s Chromecast, and it works quite simply: just plug the stick into a free HDMI input on the TV, use an included USB power adapter to power the Chromecast, and use your smartphone or tablet to set up the device via the Google Home app. With earlier models, it was only possible to mirror a video or photo from the smartphone or tablet to the TV.

With the introduction of the 2020 model Chromecast with Google TV, however, that has changed. The streaming stick now supports apps like Netflix, Disney+ and Co, has its own Google TV interface and even comes with a remote control for controlling it. However, those who like can still use the smartphone or even the voice control to navigate. The Chromecast with Google TV supports 4K at up to 60 frames per second, the high-contrast formats HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, as well as the 3D spatial sound format Dolby Atmos.

Equipment of the Google Chromecast with Google TV

Google Chromecast with Google TV
Operating system Android TV
Functions Voice base stent, voice control, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Dolby Vision, multiroom, smart home control.
Connectivity WLAN ac, Bluetooth
Streaming services Amazon Prime Video, Joyn, Netflix, YouTube, Google Cast, Disney+ etc.
Video formats MP4, Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+
Video upscaling 4K
Video playback Yes
Connections HDMI output, USB-C
Weight 55 g
Dimensions 61 × 12.5 × 162 mm
Scope of delivery Batteries, user manual, remote control, power adapter, USB cable

Advantages and disadvantages of the Google Chromecast with Google TV

Rating at idealo: Score 1.3 | 4.5 out of 5 stars

Per

  • + Now also usable independently of the smartphone
  • + Very good picture and sound quality
  • + large selection of apps as well as smart home features
  • + Fast menu navigation

Contra

  • – No power-saving mode
  • – No Ethernet connection

The compact one: Telekom MagentaTV Stick

Der MagentaTV Stick überzeugt beim Video-Streaming in Full HD mit starker Hardware, einem flexiblen Android-System mit Zugang zum Google Play Store und einer großen Auswahl an Inhalten: Man wählt über die Unterhaltung, auf die man Lust hat, aus Live-TV, Mediatheken und Streaming servicesn wie Netflix, Disney+ oder Amazon Prime Video, Spotify und natürlich Magenta TV selbst. Die Bildqualität ist gut und praktische Functions wie die Aufnahmemöglichkeiten und Time-Shift lassen keine Wünsche offen. Aufgrund der kleinen Größe und seiner Leichtigkeit, ist der Streaming-Stick der Telekom sehr gut für die Unterhaltung unterwegs geeignet, wenn man auf der Dienstreise oder auf dem Weg in den Urlaub auf Kinospaß nicht verzichten möchte.

Equipment of the Telekom MagentaTV Sticks

MagentaTV Stick
Operating system Android 9
Functions HDR (High Dynamic Range), HDCP compatible
Connectivity WLAN ac, Bluetooth
Streaming services Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, etc.
Video formats HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision
Video upscaling 4K
Video playback Yes
Connections Micro USB, HDMI output
Weight 66,5 g
Dimensions 82 × 31.5 × 77.5 mm
Scope of delivery Batteries, user manual, remote control, power adapter, USB cable

Advantages and disadvantages of the Telekom MagentaTV Stick

idealo rating: 1.5 | 4.5 out of 5 stars

Per

  • + Very good picture quality
  • + TV recordings possible
  • + Integrated TV media libraries

Contra

  • – No integrated voice search
  • – Relatively long startup time
  • – HD recordings not possible on all channels

The sustainable: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Ein kleines Gerät mit starker Leistung als absoluter Preisschlager: Der Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max ist die Weiterentwicklung eines Per dukts, das bereits viele Nutzer begeistert hat, zum Beispiel mit dem praktischen Plug & Play. Der Stick ist schnell eingerichtet und funktioniert mit der mitgelieferten Fernbedienung inklusive Schnellstarttasten für Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video und Music sowie per Sprachsteuerung. Der Streaming-Stick unterstützt 4K und Wifi 6. Im Vergleich zum bisherigen 4K-Stick hat Amazon beim Max-Modell zudem die Leistung erhöht, wodurch die Menüführung noch schneller geworden ist. Nach Bedarf kann man zusätzliche Apps installieren und schon ist der entspannte Abend auf der Couch mit den neuesten Serienhits garantiert. Man kann das Gerät außerdem als Multimediafestplatte verwenden. Unter anderem dank des geringen Stromverbrauchs inklusive Ruhemodus wurde das Modell mit dem Siegel “Carbon Trust Reducing” ausgezeichnet.

Equipment of the Amazon Fire TV Sticks 4K Max

Amazon Fire TV Sticks 4K Max
Operating system Fire TV OS
Functions Sprachsteuerung, HDR (High Dynamic Range), HDCP compatible, Streaming, Smartphone-Steuerung
Connectivity WLAN (ax), Bluetooth
Chipset Quad-core Mediatek MT8696 with 1.8 GHz
Hard drive storage 8 GB
Streaming services Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Sky Ticket, etc.
Video formats HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision
Video upscaling 4K
Video playback Yes
Connections HDMI output (HDMI 2.0), Micro-USB
Weight 48,4 g
Dimensions 99 mm x 30 mm x 14 mm (housing only)
Scope of delivery Remote control, user manual, power adapter, batteries

Advantages and disadvantages of the Amazon Fire TV Sticks 4K

Rating at idealo: Score 1.8 | 5 out of 5 stars

  • Per
  • + Very good price-performance ratio
  • + Excellent picture and sound quality
  • + Flawless voice search
  • + Apps for most popular streaming providers
  • + Simple operation
  • + With 8 GB hard disk storage
  • + Support for Wifi 6

Contra

  • – Scarce instructions

The application-friendly one: Apple TV 4K (2021)

Für alle Apple-Fans ist dieses Streaming-Gerät ein Muss: Der Apple TV 4K (2021) gehört zwar zu den teureren Modellen, bietet dafür aber auch eine sehr gute Qualität und vielfältige Functions, die eine Investition wert sind. Im Vergleich zum Vorgängermodell wurden bei diesem Gerät die Leistung optimiert und die Ergonomie der Fernbedienung, die nun besonders anwendungsfreundlich gestaltet ist. Die Benutzeroberfläche der integrierten Software ist intuitiv, alle Apps laden schnell dank des neuesten Chipmodells. Darüber hinaus ist die relativ große Set-top-Box mit passiver Kühlung ausgestattet.

Setting up the box is simple, just like with competing devices: connect the device to a free HDMI port, connect it to the WLAN, briefly go through the configuration dialog and the Apple TV can be used.

Besides apps from streaming providers and media libraries, Apple’s movie, series and music marketplace iTunes is strongly integrated into the system. Convenient: You do not have to search in the individual apps to see if movies or series are available. Instead, you can use the general search and the user interface will show where the movie is available – as a stream on Netflix, on Amazon Prime Video or for purchase or rental on iTunes.

The Apple TV can be operated with the included remote control or via voice control – Siri is supported by Apple TV. And thanks to Airplay, music, videos and pictures can be streamed easily from the iPhone, iPad or Mac to the set-top box.

Equipment of the Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple TV 4K (2021)
Operating system tvOS
Functions Voice control, Apple Arcade and Apple Music, AirPlay
Connectivity WLAN (ax), Bluetooth
Chipset A12
Hard drive storage 32 GB or 64 GB
Streaming services Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Sky, etc.
Video formats HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision
Video upscaling 4K
Video playback Yes
Connections HDMI output, network gigabit (LAN RJ45)
Weight 425 g
Dimensions 98 × 35 × 98 mm
Scope of delivery Power cable, Siri remote control, instruction manual

Advantages and disadvantages of the Apple TV 4K (2021)

Rating at idealo: Score 1.6 | 5 out of 5 stars

Per

  • + Intuitive operation
  • + Excellent picture and sound quality
  • + Practical voice search
  • + Apps for the most important streaming providers integrated

Contra

  • – Relatively large compared to other models
  • – Relatively expensive

Also interesting: Find hidden movies with these secret Netflix codes.

The all-rounder: Xiaomi Mi TV Stick

The Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, which celebrated its German launch in 2020, is not quite as focused on a specific service. The streaming stick looks a lot like the Fire TV, but it runs Android TV based on Android 9. Thus, the Mi TV Stick allows downloading numerous apps that are clearly arranged on its own user interface. The included remote control also has separate buttons for Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, which can be used to start the streaming services with one click.

Like Google’s Chromecast and the Fire TV, the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick is connected via the TV’s HDMI port and integrated into the home network via WLAN. In turn, it gets its power via USB. A Chromecast and Google Assistant are already installed here, so it can be used to transfer content from the smartphone to the TV and control smart home devices integrated in the home network.

Equipment of the Xiaomi Mi TV Sticks

Xiaomi Mi TV Stick
Operating system Android 9
Functions Voice control, Smart Cast
Connectivity WLAN (ac), Bluetooth
Chipset Quad-core Cortex-A53
Hard drive storage 8 GB
Streaming services Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, etc.
Video formats HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision
Video upscaling Full HD
Video playback Yes
Connections HDMI output, micro USB
Weight 29 g
Dimensions 30 × 92 × 15 mm
Scope of delivery Remote control, power adapter, user manual

Advantages and disadvantages of the Xiaomi Mi TV Sticks

Rating at idealo: Score 2.2 | 4 out of 5 stars

Per

  • + Versatile compatibility
  • + With handy Google Assistant
  • + Einwandfreies Android-TV-9-Operating system
  • + Solid case
  • + Good selection of integrated apps

Contra

  • – Relatively short power supply

Solution for the very old TVs

Those who own a TV without an HDMI connection can still equip the old TV with a Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV (stick) or Apple TV. However, users need a decoder for this. This converts the digital HDMI signal into an analog signal so that a streaming stick can be connected to the TV via RCA or Scart.

The best 4K TVs with 55-inch screen.

Conclusion

Deciding which streaming stick to optimize the TV with is now easier than before: atechbook is fully convinced of these models, so the crucial question is which streaming services and manufacturers you personally prefer. However, if you do not want to commit yet, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is particularly well suited for a start. It not only convinces with a diverse selection of the most popular streaming apps, but also with a sustainable design and an attractive price.