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How we test movie and TV streaming devices

These plug and play streaming devices are an alternative to installing apps like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and catch-up services on your TV.

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Fact-checked

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Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Our rigorous testing of catch-up and subscription TV streaming devices in the CHOICE labs 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 expert testers

Our testers have years of expertise in testing audio and video equipment. Their focus is not on tech-heads who are willing to tinker with code or carry out complicated setup sequences, but on finding easy-to-use solutions for ordinary people.

In the case of this test, it's about finding the best way for you to enjoy streaming and catch-up TV on your full-screen 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 they offer. Our testers 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.

How we choose what we test

In this test we're looking at devices that help bring your TV into the brave new world of streaming video by looking at devices that hook up to your TV while connected to the internet.

How we test

Ease of use

We check how easy it is to set up the device and how intuitive the on-screen display and menu system is to carry out various tasks. Examples are searching for content, browsing available content and general navigation.

Remote

The remote control should have buttons big enough to press without touching the adjacent ones, and clear labels, ideally with different shapes to quickly associate with different tasks. Devices that do not come with a remote as standard are noted but not penalised in the overall score. However the lack of a remote may have implications to the ease of use score. A recommended smartphone app is used in place of the remote.

Standby energy

A measurement is made with the unit in standby mode. Models that measure greater than 2W score 0%, 1–1.9W score 40%, 0.5–0.9W score 80%, and less than 0.5W 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. Annual running cost is calculated at 30c per kW/h based on 14 hours in standby and 10 hours in use per day.

Scoring

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%)
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE