Alphabet/Google's (GOOGL) (GOOG) Chromecast, Amazon's (AMZN) Fire TV Stick and Roku's Streaming Stick: They're all inexpensive and let you stream high-definition video to your TV, but depending upon what you want, each one has pros and cons.
The second-generation $35 Chromecast (read our review) works by sending requests to have video stream directly to a TV over your home Wi-Fi network. The little device, which you can control from the Chromecast app on whatever device you're using, handles the video streaming and connection tasks from that point on. Think of your smartphone, tablet or computer as the Chromecast's remote control.
This device works best when video providers add a Chromecast button to their services. For instance, streaming from YouTube or Netflix (NFLX) really is as simple as pressing the little Chromecast icon. Chromecast can also stream and display just about anything from your Android device's screen, including Web pages and media streams.
The $39 Fire TV Stick (review) is one of Amazon's best-selling devices, and for good reason. It's the least expensive way to control Amazon's media marketplace on your TV. As you might expect, it features many of Amazon's online services as well as Netflix, HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Sling TV, plus games, music, and other apps. And, of course, it offers online shopping.