(Pocket-lint) - There are countless TVs out there that might have amazing picture quality and resolution, but a bad software experience - whether it's slow and annoying, or missing key apps.
Media streaming sticks are the easiest and generally most affordable way around problems like these. They're one-stop shops for your streaming needs, packing in your favourite apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video into a small package that generally plugs into an HDMI slot behind your TV. They don't need space for a set-top box, and are quick and easy to set up - but which ones are the best? Read on to find out.
Which is the best streaming stick for you?
Amazon Fire TV 4K
Amazon's 4K stick is a marvel that boasts all the major streaming apps in one place, and is quick and responsive to use.
Its 4K output is reliable and also speedy, and the stick itself is unobtrusive enough, while the remote is similarly intuitive. The inclusion of Alexa means that you can use voice search if you're so inclined, although we're not always convinced by its results.
Chromecast with Google TV
Google's recent return to the world of streaming has produced the new Chromecast with Google TV - it's not technically a stick, but it's small and hangs off your TV, so in every way that matters, it counts.
The software experience is great, and being able to cast to it is super helpful, although there are a couple of services that haven't quite made it to the new Google TV yet, which is the only thing holding it back.
Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku's been making good in-roads in the last few years by making really low-cost streaming devices that are easy to use, and this stick is no exception.
It's well-priced, and the UI is really easy to use, plus it's got all the major apps accounted for to make sure that you can watch whatever you want - in 4K.
Amazon Fire TV Stick (2020)
If you fancy the Amazon experience for your streaming (and that's sensible - it's great), but you don't have a 4K TV or don't think you want to spend that much, this is a great alternative.
It's basically Amazon's full package, just without 4K capability, and it works great as just that. You'll save a bit of cash, although if you think you'll go 4K soon we'd probably splash out for the pricier, future-proofed version. For an even bigger saving, check out the Fire TV Stick Lite.
Now TV Smart Stick
You might notice the similarities between the remotes on Roku's stick and this Now TV-branded one - they're near identical, and the experiences are similarly close.
For those in the UK, Now TV has a range of good options available that make it a great place to start with streaming, and while it's not quite as adaptable as some of the others on this list, and is missing some key services, it's a good pick if you want a simple solution. It maxes out at 1080p, though.