The world of streaming has become the default entry point for millions of people when they’re looking for some TV or a movie to watch – it’s the new normal, and the devices powering it are consequently hugely important.
We test a huge number of streaming devices each year, from sticks to set-top boxes, and now it’s time to showcase the very best from 2023. The 20th annual Pocket-lint Awards, sponsored by New EE, are nearly here – celebrating the best devices across a wide range of products.
There were a bunch of impressive streaming devices to pick from this year but, together with our judges, we’ve now named our top choice and award winner.
Streaming device of the year: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen)
It’s simply the best way to watch TV or movies – Amazon’s streaming stick makes everything so easy and also brings the highest-quality video and audio to the table, ensuring that you get the best experience possible. Its reasonable price seals the deal.
For those who want a simpler option but still really like (or are familiar with) Amazon’s Fire TV interface and apps, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the streaming stick we all know and love, upgraded and with more power than ever before.
It’s still just a tiny stick that you add to your TV’s HDMI port, but once it’s plugged in, you get a world of options, including that all-important 4K output to give you the crispest and most vivid TV and movie-watching experiences.
That ease of use, combined with its solid pricing and excellent features, made it a popular choice at the top of our shortlist, and sees it take home the award for 2023.
Highly commended: Sky Stream
Sky’s foray into a simpler-to-understand version of its service, in the form of a streaming box that doesn’t need a satellite dish, is a resounding success – Stream makes things so much easier.
With top-class video and audio quality available and the whole gamut of Sky services also on offer if you choose the relevant memberships, you can build yourself a pretty unassailable streaming experience using this one box. With rolling contracts, it really does feel like the future of Sky’s entertainment offering.
The best of the rest
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon’s most powerful streaming device is the Fire TV Cube, and its most recent version got a really welcome upgrade with a brand-new design that is significantly more modern and attractive for our money. It’s a more powerful media hub than ever, thanks to more USB and HDMI ports, and it outputs gorgeous video.
With a built-in speaker, it can be an all-in-one upgrade for your viewing experience, and the best part is that it actually isn’t even as expensive as its design and features would lead you to think.
Apple TV 4K
If you’re more of an Apple person, the latest version of the Apple TV 4K is another stunning bit of kit, a tiny box that boasts really incredible power and the ability to pump out gorgeous video quality with a whole range of codecs supported.
It’s got a superb remote and really slick and quick versions of all the major apps you might hope to see, and if you’ve got an iPhone, HomePod mini speaker, AirPods or any number of other Apple products, the integration and features you unlock with both are just so useful and impressive.
Chromecast with Google TV
Chromecast has been around for so long now and, for many people, is still basically a synonym for any form of phone-to-TV casting; so ubiquitous has it become, but its latest powerful dongle does a lot more than just casting.
It’s a brilliant and useful addition to your TV whether you use it for connectivity or as a hub; it can also be used with all the major streaming services, and it has some really nice features for Android users who want to push its functionality even further.
Roku Streaming Stick 4K
This is the best streaming stick Roku makes, a wonderfully tiny slice of streaming heaven that proves really easy to set up and use and which has support for Dolby Vision to push its video quality even higher.
With AirPlay 2 and other casting options also fully supported, it’s the perfect companion for your TV and is so compact that you could easily use it as a travel device to ensure you get the UI you’re used to no matter where you are.
How the EE Pocket-lint Awards judging works
The winner for the Streaming Device of the Year category was decided by the Pocket-lint team, along with a panel of expert judges from publications across the industry. Following a rigorous scoring process, the Streaming Device of the Year for 2023 was announced at an in-person event on 9 November 2023, along with the winners from the other 20 categories.