Our in-depth testing of catch-up and subscription TV streaming devices in the CHOICE TV lab means you can be confident you're making the right decision when it's time to get set up at home. Here's how we do it.
Our experts want to help you find the best way to enjoy streaming shows and movies on your TV with minimum fuss and without spending a fortune. This is particularly important for people who own older TVs that may work fine but don't support all of the latest streaming apps and features on offer.
We choose devices from popular brands with a prominent market presence, many of which are already part of a larger product ecosystem from companies including Google, Apple and Amazon. All of the devices in our test are 4K capable.
Ease of use
We check how easy it is to set up the device and how intuitive the on-screen display and menu system are to carry out various tasks. Our experts search for content, browse available content, check parental controls, and look at casting and general navigation. They also look at additional features you can find in these devices that may not be supported by other platforms, such as a universal search function.
- Searching: Is the search tool easy to find? Are predictive results useful? Does the operating system show results from all available services? Is voice searching effective?
- Browsing content: Is suggested content/recommended viewing prominent and useful? Does the amalgamated content feed show content from all available services and is it comprehensive? How many content categories are there, are they useful and is it easy to continue watching content?
This is a broad assessment of ease of navigation and whether the controls are comprehensive. The remote should have buttons big enough to press without touching the adjacent ones as well as clear labels, ideally with different shapes to quickly associate with different tasks that illuminate for low-light use.
A measurement is made with the unit in standby mode. Models that measure greater than 2W score 0%, 2–1.5W score 20%, 1.5-1W score 40%, 1-0.7W score 60%, 0.7-0.5W score 80% and 0.5W and below score 100%.
Power consumption in use and yearly running cost
Power is measured while streaming HD content on Netflix. Power consumption may vary very slightly depending on the service and video resolution. The annual running cost is calculated at 40c per kW/h based on 14 hours in standby and 10 hours in use per day.
We give every device a CHOICE Expert Rating so you can see at a glance which are the best and worst performers to get catch-up TV and online subscription content onto your TV.
This overall score is based on the following criteria:
- ease of use (50%)
- remote (40%)
- standby energy (10%).
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.