Not a lot of people can afford SmartTVs, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot supercharge your existing TV to display your favorite online content.
In this article, I will talk about the best streaming devices in 2020. They are the ones worth considering in a sea of different models, so be sure to read through the end to find out the right device for you.
Best Streaming Devices
1.Roku Streaming Stick+
There are SmartTVs out there that have the capabilities of a streaming device. Some displays already come with Roku as their main operating system, but if you are still using a pretty old (but still functional) TV, then I highly recommend that you get the Roku Streaming Stick+.
This particular streaming device provides a lot of content in its small form factor. Aside from allowing you to enjoy popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, you also have access to a lot of channels; about 5,000 to be exact.
Of course, not all of the channels it supports will look good on your TV since there are a lot of factors that contribute to how well it can receive some signals, but you get the idea that it can allow you to get as many channels as you need.
Aside from that, its performance across the board is pretty snappy. While most content out there is only maxed at 1080p, the streaming device will not have any problems running things at 4K.
You will also love the fact that the said streaming device has its remote control improved over the years. The remote that you get with this one now has volume controls so you can use only one remote control to handle the volume.
All in all, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is what I would consider to be the best overall streaming device that you should consider getting.
2.Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
If you have an Amazon Prime Video subscription, then you definitely need to consider getting the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. This is the newest streaming device from the world’s largest online retailer and it is pretty good at what it does.
First and foremost, it puts all of the Amazon-related content front and center which means that it can give you what you want whenever you turn your TV on.
Of course, it does have support for other streaming platforms such as Hulu and Netflix, though you will have to go through a bunch of different things before you can get to those apps.
It is also worth noting that if you watch from Vudu, you are out of luck as the company seems to have a feud with Amazon (which sadly, has still not been resolved to this day).
You also get a remote so that you can control the device to your liking. Although it is pretty barren and only has basic functionalities, it can support voice commands if you want that.
Setting the Fire TV Stick 4K is quite easy and that is why I recommend this for people that are not savvy enough to install a streaming device.
Google Chromecast is arguably the most popular streaming device on the market. That is probably due to the fact that the company is quite famous.
Anyway, the installation of the Chromecast is one of the easiest out there. All you have to do is connect it to your TV via HDMI, download its companion app and install it into your smartphone or tablet, and then set things up from there.
The installation process is seamless and everything that you need to do will be outlined in the application itself.
Now, although it can support any streaming service on the market, it is important to keep in mind that it doesn’t come with a remote. That means that controlling the streaming device is entirely through your mobile device.
Other than that, the latest Google Chromecast is the best version of the device yet.
4.Apple TV 4K
If you are into the iOS ecosystem and that you own an iPhone, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Apple TV 4K.
Aside from the fact that it supports all of the major streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and so on, it has a pretty slick interface that presents all of its important features to the fore so you don’t have to go in and look for them.
Among all of the streaming devices out there, the Apple TV 4K probably has one of the simplest interfaces out there and that can actually be a good thing.
You see, you might be tech-savvy but your parents or grandparents are probably not, so having them use a simple device makes sense.
The latest version of the Apple TV 4K now supports the Roku App which means that you can also use your TV as a means of getting as many as 5,000+ channels!
Of course, since it is built and made by Apple, you can expect its price tag to be up there. However, it has a pretty good build quality that will help it last for a very long time.
5.Amazon Fire TV Cube
If you want a new-age streaming device that has all of the right features, then the Amazon Fire TV Cube is a worthy contender.
Aside from the fact that it can support 4K HDR content, you also get some HDMI ports that can support any TV, as well as your TV Soundbar if you have one. The latter is thanks to its HDMI-ARC support which is a standard connection protocol used by most soundbars on the market.
Since this streaming device was made by Amazon, you can expect it to have voice recognition support as well. This just means that you can use Alexa to quickly and seamlessly find whatever content you want.
Although there are some buttons that you can press at the top of the device, most of the things can be controlled using Amazon’s AI technology, so that is the reason why this device doesn’t come with a remote.
If you are building your own smart home ecosystem, the Amazon Fire TV Cube will surely fit right in.
6.Nvidia Shield TV (2019)
Did you know that the Nvidia Shield is actually one of the first streaming devices on the market? And, since this is one of the pioneers, you can expect it to deliver superb performance unlike any other and that is true with this one.
The 2019 version of the popular Nvidia Shield TV is a streaming device that can handle 4K content masterfully and without any lags. Just load up your favorite 4K Netflix show and it will play it almost instantly.
What I really love about the Nvidia Shield TV is its performance. You can do things seamlessly like go through its different channels and apps and you will not experience any lags whatsoever.
It can also support as many as 5,000 channels, though not every channel can be supported in your area, so just bear that in mind.
The Nvidia Shield TV doesn’t come with a game controller, but it does come with a handy remote control that will illuminate once it senses touch. This is great if you intend to watch your favorite content in your home cinema where the ambiance is dark.
Probably, the only thing that holds people back from getting this device is its price, but if you want a serious streaming device, this is a worthy consideration without a doubt.
Roku seems to know how to create the best streaming devices on the market because this next recommendation is certainly a cut above the rest.
The Roku Ultra can support any streaming service out there. This includes Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, and any streaming platform you can think of.
Aside from that, it supports some welcome technologies that will help elevate your viewing experience, including HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and it has native 4K support.
In addition to that, the Roku Ultra also allows you to plug in an Ethernet cable for uninterrupted connections, as well as a microSD card so that you can also play some offline photos and videos as well.
The included remote control is pretty handy as well. You see, the device has a ‘lost remote’ feature that will help you find the control if you’ve lost it (a pretty common thing in most households).
Furthermore, the remote control also has a headphone jack, so if you intend to watch your favorite movies without disturbing anyone at home, then you are in luck.
All of the aforementioned features are great, but what I am really impressed with is the fact that this device has the best support for all streaming platforms compared to other streaming devices out there.
And, all of these things can be yours for the price of $100 which, for the features that you are getting, is quite reasonable if you ask me.
Bonus: TVSurf Caster
Touted as a great Google Chromecast alternative, TVSurf is a streaming device that is easy to install and has all of the features that you need in a small and convenient package.
Aside from having support for all of the popular streaming platforms, you can also play some offline files as well and you are not just limited to just movies and photos as you can also use the device to showcase your spreadsheets, PDFs, and so much more.
Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers
Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.
You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.
That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!
For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.
The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.
Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.
With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.
For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.
On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.
At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.
Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.
If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.
This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.
Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.
Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.
To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.
The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.
On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.
It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.
However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.
Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.
The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.
Best Tech Deals in October 2020
Technology is always going to be there to help improve our lives. We at Startechnews will provide you with some of the best tech deals every month and today, I am going to be talking about some of the products that have received good price cuts.
Although Black Friday happens in the same month, most of these deals will not be a part of that special day.
Anyway, here are some of the best tech deals in October:
Best Tech Deals in October
1.Apple iPhone XR
Price: $550 (was $599) @BestBuy
If you are fond of using any devices under the iOS ecosystem, then I highly recommend that you get your hands on this Apple iPhone XR deal.
Yes, I know that this device is dated at this point but its specs, as well as its overall performance, are still really good in this day and age.
What I love about iPhones, in general, is that their Bionic chips outmatch the performance of any flagship Android device released in the same year, so you can rest assured that the XR can still be good for at least 2-3 years from now.
That being said, if you are okay with this, you can get head on over to Best Buy to get yours.
Lastly, if you have an old iPhone, you can also surrender that and get even more discounts as well!
2.Amazon Echo Dot
Price: $39.99 (was $49.99) @Amazon
The Amazon Echo Studio is always going to be the best in terms of Amazon’s line of Bluetooth speakers, but there are people who are okay with the convenience and the form factor of the company’s Echo Dot line.
The Amazon Echo Dot is currently sold for just $39.99 and although it is just a $10 discount, it is still pretty good nonetheless.
One of the reasons why I highly recommend that you get one for yourself is that you can actually use Alexa to help you do a lot of different things.
If you are following some sports teams, for example, you can ask Alexa to search for scores and any news about the teams that you are truly passionate about.
The device’s always-on microphone is there to take your voice commands and Alexa will do the rest for you.
Although it is relatively okay as an audio solution, there is more value when it comes to using its ‘smart’ features.
Price: $275 (was $299) @Amazon
The Nintendo Switch is considered to be one of the company’s best gaming consoles yet. The beauty about this particular game console is that you can either play it as-is (handheld) or you can wire it to your TV via HDMI to enjoy your games at a higher fidelity screen.
This deal is for the new version of the Nintendo Switch that aims to fix the joycon drift issue that has plagued the first version of the console and it has a bigger battery life so that you can play untethered for a longer period of time.
You can buy the discounted Nintendo Switch at Amazon.
4.Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro
Price: $199.95 (was $299.99) @BestBuy
The Beats by Dre Solo Pro is a really good pair of wireless headphones that have active noise canceling. Although you might not like its on-ear design, this pair of cans is still quite comfortable to use for hours.
You get a lot of different color options to choose from and its ergonomic design allows you to use these headphones without any issues.
The Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro currently retails at a discounted price of $199.95 down from $299.99. If you are a fan of the brand or just for good Bluetooth headphones, in general, this is a really good choice.
5.Apple Airpods Pro
Price: $219 (was $249) @Amazon
The Apple Airpods Pro needs no introduction. It is one of the best Bluetooth headphones that you can buy not only for your iPhone but also for your other mobile devices as well.
Part of the reason why so many people love this particular product is due to its active noise-canceling feature. Normally, you can only expect great performance if you are using over-ear headphones, but not the Airpods Pro.
Its active noise-cancellation is really good because it shows you a warning that you shouldn’t enable the feature when you are walking on a busy street. It is really that effective.
It has consistently been compared to other Bluetooth audio solutions on the market, but nothing compares to it unless, of course, if you are talking about high-end over-ear solutions.
If you are interested in getting your hands in an Apple Airpods Pro, you can head over to Amazon to purchase this thing for only $219.
Price: $229 (was $329)
If you want to get your hands on an Android TV that is really good and it doesn’t break the bank, then I suggest that you look at the TCL 43S425.
This is a 43-inch 4K TV that has the famous Roku operating system built-in. That means that you can enjoy a ton of different features, movies, and TV shows without ever having to download any application to do those things.
Although TCL is a relatively new brand in the US, you can rest assured that the build quality and the materials that are used in the making of these television sets are of high-quality.
7.Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Price: $229 (was $279) @Amazon
We considered the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 as one of the best smartwatches for Android and even though it is a year and a half old at this point, it is still pretty good regardless.
You are looking at a smartwatch with great build quality and you can use this no matter what activities you are going to do.
Its battery life is okay, though not that great. The good thing is that you can top this device up quickly and easily using its included charger.
If you want a smartwatch that allows you to track your physical activity really well, get this product as soon as possible.
8.Bose QC 35 II Wireless
Price: $239 (was $349)
Consistently regarded as one of the best Bluetooth headphones for quite some time now, the Bose QC 35 II Wireless is great both in terms of comfort and sound quality.
Although its overall performance does not rival that of the company’s higher-end models, this is not to downplay whatever this thing is offering because it still provides you with some really amazing features- one of which is its award-winning active noise-canceling capability.
You should get the Bose 35 II Wireless right now because you can have the chance to get a limited edition Rose-Gold color if you order this month.
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.
There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.
You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.
Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.
Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.
There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.
The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.
You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).
What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: A12 Bionic
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB/128GB
- Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
- OS: iPadOS 14
- Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
- Battery: 32.4 Wh
So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.
While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.
Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.
Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games.
Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.
It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.
Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.
However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.
My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.
If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.
The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.
Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.
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