Your 2015 Christmas Shopping Guide to Streaming Media Players
For those that want an affordable gift that anyone can use on their existing TV or PC display, streaming media players are a great choice. Even though most of the media players have access to the most popular streaming services like NetFlix, Amazon, and Hulu, there are key differences to make you choose one vs the other.
Best Premium Product for Android power users who like 4K and access to content: Roku
In terms of premium streaming devices out there, Roku has built a long track record. The Roku 3 was very easy to use works will most popular TV's like the Samsung Smart LED TV and the Vizio M-Series 4K Ultra HD Smart TV. The Roku 3 also work with many smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
In addition, the new Roku 4 has 4K support so you can stream 4K NetFlix or other services into a 4K TV, and has integrated voice control.
Best Premium Product for Amazon 4K and content users: Amazon Fire TV
For Amazon Prime users that also enjoy Amazon Instant Video and have Amazon Fire Tablet products, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a good choice. It works great with Samsung and LG TV's (2015) and integrates well if you already have a Amazon Fire Tablet.
Amazon recently came out with an updated version of Amazon Fire TV which supports 4K when plugged into 4K TV's as well as voice control.
Best for Premium Product for Apple Users: Apple TV
For those that prefer to stay in Apple's easy to use, cool user experience model, Apple TV brings out iTunes contents onto the Big Screen. As to be expected the Apple TV works smoothly with Apple iPad and iPhone products and on such TV's as the Sharp Aquos TV and Panasonic Viera TV.
Apple also recently came out with a new version of the Apple TV to support better Siri voice control integration. For some off reason, Apple decided not to add 4K support to this new Apple TV despite Apple TV's positioning as a premium product.
Best Value Product for Android Phone Users: Google Nexus Player
The Google Nexus Player from ASUS is a low cost way to add Android TV capabilities onto any TV. It works with a many Android phones like the Sony Xperia and TV's like the Samsung Smart LED TV and the Vizio M-Series 4K Ultra HD Smart TV.
Best Value Product for Chinese Content Users: Baidu TV
One of the main benefits of using cable and satellite TV is being able to get premium non-English channels. With the inexpensive Baidu TV Stick, you can get free Chinese TV shows and movies streamed directly into your TV. You don't really need to use a mobile phone to control the Baidu TV Stick, and can just treat it as an independent streaming set-top box.
Best Value for Everyone: Google Chromecast
Probably the ultimate low cost way to add streaming content capabilities into your TV is Google's Chromecast. Even though Chromecast is from Google, the nice thing with Chromecast is that is works well on most Windows PC, Mac, Android, and iPhone/iPad platforms as well as any TV or Display with a HDMI connector. The Chromecast (2013) works well with the Micromax Canvas Knight 2 and LG 4K Ultra HD TV. Google updated their Chromecast to a faster space age looking 2015 version but their new and improved Chromecast App also works with the older Chromecast (2013).
Streaming media devices are great gifts since they are inexpensive and will get a lot of use as opposed to stored away in some closet. Just figure out how comfortable the person getting the gift is with technology and what smartphone or TV he or she wants to use with the gift- the rest gets much easier from there.