The Best Streaming Device in Australia: Media Player Reviews

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A streaming device connects your TV to the internet and gives you instant access to a wide variety of apps and channels. A streaming device such as Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV is flexible, impressively fast and very user-friendly. The number one reason to pick up a streaming device is the content you get access to.

As these compact devices rise in popularity, the competition also increases which makes it more difficult to choose between the available options. The below reviews take a closer look at the best streaming devices in Australia and the buyer’s guide later in the article will help you identify which features are most important for you.


1. Nvidia Shield TV Pro 4K Media Player – Best Overall


The Nvidia Shield 4K offers the best features and user experience. It is a simple, compact, and discreet streaming player that gives you instant access to 4K HDR entertainment.

The streaming device has been updated to be faster and smarter. It has Google Assistant built-in and can be controlled hands-free through Google Home, Alexa and Amazon Echo. This is a high-performance option that allows you to stream Netflix, Prime Video and Vudu in 4K with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. One of the most impressive features of this unit is its real-time ability to upscale HD video to 4K using AI and the Tegra X1 processor.

The Shield remote is easy to use and offers a range of control features. It also has a user-customisable button and there is a built-in remote locator so you’ll never lose the remote again. Australian channels including ten play, Stan, 7plus, ABC iView and SBS can be streamed and if the channel doesn’t have a dedicated app you will likely be able to use Chromecast to access the content anyway.


What We Like:

AI 4K upscaling
Discreet design
Built-in Google Assistant

What We Don’t Like:

Set up can take time to fine-tune


2. Amazon Fire TV Stick


Fire TV Stick | Stream Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ and more

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a popular streaming device that gives you direct access to thousands of apps and games. For ease of use, the Fire TV Stick plugs into the HDMI port of your TV and comes with a dedicated remote that offers easy navigation.

The setup is 3 simple steps so you can be watching Amazon Prime, Netflix or your favourite apps in no time. The process is so straightforward that it is easy to move to Amazon Fire TV Stick from room to room or you can take it with you on the go. This is a compact, plug and play streaming device that will work anywhere.

As the Amazon Fire TV Stick has a quad-core processor is delivers fast streaming of 1080 HD content and even enhances the audio so you can enjoy rich surround sound. The downside to this option is that you may struggle to find Australian apps to watch local TV.


What We Like:

Compact size
Simple set up perfect for use on the go
Fast streaming

What We Don’t Like:

May not be the best option for access to Australian TV shows


3. Google Chromecast Ultra


The Google Chromecast Ultra offers fast and powerful 4K streaming from your device to your TV. This is the best option if you are on a budget.

This is a compact device that is powered by USB and has a built-in ethernet adapter which will allow faster and more consistent streaming compared to a wireless connection (which is also available). You can use all the apps you would usually use including Netflix, Google Play and Youtube as well as local channels such as ABS, SBS and Ten through the Freeview app.

In order for the Chromecast Ultra to work it needs to be connected to a smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can easily mirror screens and using your smartphone as the remote can simplify the process of finding your favourite content and then “casting” it onto the big screen. The Chromecast may be small in size but it is fast and delivers excellent picture quality.


What We Like:

Compact dongle
4K and HDR quality
Value for money

What We Don’t Like:

Needs to be connected to a smart device


4. Apple TV 4K Media Player


Apple TV 4K is easy to use and offers a comprehensive service that supports a range of media including almost all local Australia TV channels as well as key apps such as Netflix. It is also one of the best ways to catch the latest releases of 4K movies in Australia.

This TV box allows you to stream 4K HDR content so you can enjoy the best quality pictures with rich colour details. The Apple TV unit comes with a remote control that also offers voice search using Siri. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can use Airplay to watch shows and movies from your device on your TV.

Apple TV is compact, sleek and unobtrusive. The design is minimalist and it is user-friendly and easy to set up so you will be streaming 4K shows in no time.


What We Like:

Great for watching Australian content
Voice search option
Minimalist style
Supports 4K Dolby Vision

What We Don’t Like:

Expensive option


5. Roku Express HD Streaming Media Player


The Roku Express HD is one of the cheaper streaming devices that offers access to thousands of apps. This is one of the best options if you have an HDTV and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on newer 4K streaming devices.

The Roku is USB powered and plugs into your TV with a high-speed HDMI cable. The system gives you access to a wide range of free channels and you can easily navigate between your favourite streaming apps such as Amazon Prime Video or Netflix to find content that you love.

You don’t need to have a smart TV to use Roku, it simply plugs into any TV via HDMI and it comes with a remote that is simple to use. This is one of the most user-friendly systems available and the remote even has pre-set channel buttons so you can use the shortcuts to instantly get to the apps you love. One important consideration with this is that it is a US product so you may struggle to access Australian TV.


What We Like:

Easy to use
Affordable
Access to lots of channels and apps

What We Don’t Like:

US product so may not be best for watching Australian channels


6. Xiaomi Mi Box S Streaming Device

Xiaomi Mi Box S (International Version) - 4K HDR,Android 8.1,Voice Remote

The Mi Box S is a low-cost Android TV streaming device that supports Google Assistant and Chromecast. It supports wi-fi, Bluetooth and USB connections and comes with a remote control.

The device itself is minimalistic, a small plain black box with a HDMI port, a USB port, a power port and an audio port. This simple design might give you an indication of how easy to Xiaomi Mi Box S is to set up. Once plugged in and turned on, on-screen prompts will guide you through the rest of the process so the system is up and running in no time. This streaming device supports 4K video but you may have to access the settings to make sure it is set to the highest resolution (the default setting seems to be lower for some reason).

The Xiaomi Mi Box S has Android 8.1 built-in meaning you will be able to access all Android apps and you will be able to mirror from an Android phone to your TV. You should not have any issues accessing local content either so there’s no reason to miss your favourite shows.


What We Like:

Low cost
Android 8.1
Connect through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or USB

What We Don’t Like:

Not as advanced as competitors


7. Vero 4K + Media Player




The Vero 4K + is a solid streaming device that also supports local file playback. It offers wireless performance, fast memory and has large storage (as well as a microSD card slot and USB port for additional storage).

The device supports all major formats and is able to handle 4K playback effortlessly. The device also supports optical audio and analogue audio out to provide high-quality sound to match the clarity and detail of the picture.

Connectivity is simple and the kit comes with a HDMI cable, a remote control and 5 years of software updates. The Vero 4K + also comes with a mounting kit so you can stick the media player on the back of the TV. If you’re looking for a high-performance 4K streaming device that offers lots of features and connectivity options the Vero is one of the best available.


What We Like:

Large storage
Built to last
High performance

What We Don’t Like:

Some apps are limited to lower resolutions through this system e.g. you cannot watch Netflix in 4K


8. Telstra TV 3




The Telstra TV 3 can be used as a one-stop-shop for all of your TV shows and movies, it has lots of great features and can handle live TV as well as streaming.

You can easily stream apps such as ABC iView, Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime as well as watch live TV. All modes are controlled using one remote so navigating through the settings is straight forward. The universal search feature is brilliant as it lets you look for shows across all apps as well as live TV so you can quickly see which sources are offering the show or movie you’re looking for.

Telstra TV 3 offers a voice search option and it also has an app that you can download to your smartphone which can be used to control the unit. Overall this is best for local Australian channels but is better suited for audiences that are already with Telstra.


What We Like:

Can stream and play live TV
Universal search function
Telstra TV app is useful

What We Don’t Like:

Monthly subscription is needed to access all features


Media Player Buyer’s Guide


Streaming devices are incredibly popular and there is no better time to invest in one. A lot of people are now turning to streaming services and apps rather than cable TV. A streaming media player will help you enjoy a wide range of apps, services and features from one simple package. There’s a lot of competition so this buyers guide will help you narrow it down and find the best streaming player for you.

Types of Streaming Devices

The two most common products are:

  • Streaming Sticks – these USB-style dongles are small, compact and connect to your TV’s HDMI port. They are tucked out of the way and offer a powerful streaming service.
  • Set-top Box Style – this is a larger unit that is designed to sit on your TV stand, the most obvious example of a set-top box is the Apple TV 4K. They are usually sleek and unobtrusive but are supposed to be within view rather than tucked away like streaming sticks are.

Playback Resolution

If your TV is 4K or 4K HDR, you will want to choose an option that offers 4K HDR resolution so you can enjoy the best out of the TV. The majority of options support at least 1080 HD as standard but don’t miss out on the best quality your TV can handle.

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Performance and Speed

Streaming sticks tend to be slower than set-tops and the amount you spend seems to correlate with the speed and performance. If you are able to spend a little bit more to go for the well-known brands and the new product versions you will experience smoother and faster streaming.

Provider & Service Ecosystems

When choosing a streaming stick you may want to consider the brand and the service ecosystem. If you use lots of Apple products and services you might be more drawn to Apple TV as this offers a smooth ecosystem where your devices can all work together.

Similarly, Fire TV is ideal for watching Amazon Prime Video and Google’s services are best accessed with Google Chromecast or with an Android TV system.

Roku is a more neutral option as it offers a range of apps from competing services but it is also less advanced with the smart home control features that you often get with other TVbox options.

Connectivity

The connectivity ports featured will vary from product to product. Some will offer a port for an ethernet connection as well as USB ports and microSD card slots. Some have audio cable ports too. The tv box should be able to connect to Wi-Fi and some also can connect through Bluetooth too. Finding an option that suits your connection requirements is important for smooth setup and use.

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Remote Control Options

A lot of the remote controls that come with the smart TV boxes tend to be basic in their design and features. The more minimal approach seems to be the most popular option among streaming devices but there are some options that are packed with buttons offering different functions such as rewind and fast forward.

Some devices offer a voice search option and some remotes can also directly control your TV which is a convenient feature to have. There are a few streaming products that can be connected to and controlled via an app too.

There are lots of remote features you can compare and the best version for you comes down to personal preference and which functions you feel are most important (or simply the ones you know you will use every day).



Media Player FAQs


Can Roku be used in Australia?

Yes, but the channels and apps may be more limited than other devices as Roku is not directly sold or marketed within Australia. This means if an app has geo-location restrictions it may impact your ability to stream their shows.

Which streaming device has the most free channels?

Amazon Fire and Roku Express are both great options for free channels. Roku may just take the edge as they make sure free channels are easy to find and access.