If you can’t watch streaming services on your TV then getting one of these streaming sticks will help make your dumb TV into a smart TV.
With each of these devices I’ve listed the main services you can access, though there are usually more options. I’ve also provided links for articles elsewhere on the blog where I update the latest offers.
Watch: Which streaming service is the best value for money?
Cheap Roku Express and Roku Streaming Stick +
What you can watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, NOW TV, iPlayer, Apple TV +, Disney +, ITV Hub, All 4, My 5, Google Play, YouTube, UKTV Play, Sky Store, Rakuten
This is possibly the best one if you watch all of the main VOD services as it has apps for Netflix, Prime and NOW TV.
There are two options. The basic one will be fine for most people and should cost you around £30. If you want to watch in 4K (which is super high quality) you can buy a premium version, which normally costs £50. If you don’t have a 4K TV you can still use this and get full HD.
I’ll update the links below when there are any standout offers.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
What you can watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, iPlayer, All4, Apple TV+, My 5, UKTV Play, Disney+, Apple TV+, Chili
You’ve got the pick of a Fire TV stick or the 4K Fire TV. Both come with Alexa, meaning you can talk to the remote to find the programme you want to watch. You can also pair the sticks with Amazon Echo speakers.
You’ll pay £40 for the basic model and £50 for the 4K version, though there are often deals, so I’d wait for one of these to pop up. There’s also a Fire TV Cube which costs £110 but includes an Echo speaker. I’ll often share these on my Amazon deals page.
The interface is perfectly good, and you can also control the stick via an app on your smartphone. However, it does lack access to NOW TV.
BUY > Get the 4K Fire TV
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What you can watch: Netflix, NOW TV, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Disney+, Google Play, Rakuten, almost anything
The first streaming stick I ever got was the Chromecast, and this was the game-changer for me. You don’t get a remote control (though there are rumours of one coming later in 2020). Instead you “cast” from your computer or phone.
This sends whatever screen you have on your device over to the TV. That means it’s not just TV. You can cast any tab from a Chrome browser, which means any webpage.
Apple TV+ isn’t supported, but sometimes you can cast it via your web browser. However, if you’re going to use Prime a lot, this isn’t the device for you.
Again there are two versions. The standard one retails at £30 but if you wait there are often deals which bring it down to £25 or less. The lowest I’ve seen it, around Black Friday, is £18. The premium Chromecast Ultra is 4K and sells for £69. It’s rare that this is discounted. I regularly update the best prices on my Chromecast deals page.
NOW TV stick
What you can watch: NOW TV, iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, My5, Disney+, Sky Store, YouTube, Netflix
This is the budget option, and can work out really cheap – but it does have limitations.
NOW TV uses the same technology as Roku, though there’s a big difference in that you can’t access Amazon Prime and a few other services. It’s obviously geared towards NOW TV too, with a big button on the remote taking you direct to the NOW TV app.
The stick is £25 or you can buy it with a NOW TV pass, which often makes the real cost of the stick only a few quid, and this can be the cheapest way to make your TV smart.
Again, I share all the best deals on a dedicated NOW TV deals page, which also has the best ways to save on passes.
What you can watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, BBC iPlayer, All 4, My 5, ITV Hub, NOW TV, Apple TV+, Disney+
Apple TV is far more expensive than the other options at £149 and £179 for the 4K version, but it’s essential for anyone who’s built up a collection of film and TV from iTunes.