Instead of DVD or Blu-Ray Players, people nowadays are turning towards media streaming devices for their entertainment needs. It’s about as convenient as pirating copyrighted content through the Internet, but it’s completely legal and guilt-free since you’re paying a subscription for it.
Additionally, more and more people are searching for the best streaming device for projector use because streaming doesn’t require physical media for you to enjoy them.
You may also like: What is a Smart Projector? Why Do You Need a Smart Projector?
You can watch your favorite shows anywhere on-demand or marathon them if you so wish. You don’t have to wait. With that in mind, what are the best streaming devices out there?
Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku is practically synonymous with streaming hardware or HDMI sticks the same way Band-Aid is synonymous with plaster strips. The company offers some of the best streaming devices in the market for 2020. One of the best sticks for streaming offered by the company, in turn, is the Roku Streaming Stick+ or Roku Streaming Stick Plus.
A Compact Form-Factor Type of Device
- Curiously, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is so small and compact that its form-factor is much smaller than its remote. It’s like an extra-large USB stick, but this time around its plug isn’t USB, it’s HDMI. So in essence, it’s an HDMI stick with the stick part containing the hardware necessary to turn any ordinary projector or HDTV into a smart one capable of streaming content.
- A smart projector can stream Netflix and Hulu without the assistance of Roku.
4K Is The Future of Entertainment:
- Just as we had jumped from SD (Standard Definition) 480p 4:3 aspect ratio CRT TV shows to widescreen 1080p Full HD (High Definition) programs, it only makes sense that we make another leap towards the Ultra HD 4K future.
- Incidentally, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is capable of playing HDR and 4K UHD content so that you can make full use of your 4K HDTVs and projectors. Not coincidentally, projectors so far in 2021 can only go as high as 4K.
A Flash Drive for Streaming:
- The Roku Streaming Stick+ can plug directly into any HDMI port with its HDMI plug or connector because it’s considered a pluggable media source, just like your DVD or BD player as well as your satellite or cable box.
- It’s shaped like a USB thumb or flash drive but it’s a lot more than that. Moreover, consumers can connect the device to their home Wi-Fi or Internet connection for good measure in order to retrieve streaming content off of the Worldwide Web the same way you could with your smartphone
More Value for Your Money:
- The Roku Streaming Stick+ offers you a lot of value for your money. For only about $60 ($59 vs. the $49 of a Fire TV Stick), you can get a propriety user interface that’s easy to navigate in order to play multiple streaming services from Netflix to Amazon Prime.
- The device also supports Dolby Atmos and HDR/HDR10 content. It also facilitates screen mirroring in Windows and Android devices. You can also use the Roku remote in order to control TVs.
Further reading: How to Connect a Roku Stick to a Projector: Is It Even Possible?
Drawbacks and Limitations:
- The Roku Streaming Stick+ for 4K viewing isn’t perfect. It does have limits even though it can accommodate a wider range of apps compared to other media streamers. For example, it lacks smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Furthermore, it lacks Dolby Vision support even though it’s compatible with Dolby Atmos. The package doesn’t include an HDMI extension cable too. The new remote control lacks a headphone jack as well.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
As for the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K—also known as the FireStick—it’s Amazon’s answer to the Roku. Curiously, if you’re under the impression that it can only stream Amazon Prime content, you’d be sadly mistaken. Amazon was actually willing to partner with the likes of Netflix and Hulu in order to allow their FireStick to carry their streaming services as well, even though Prime is the easiest and most natural service to use with the Fire TV Stick.
A Popular Choice by Name Recognition:
- Although Roku is technically the leader of the streaming service pack, who doesn’t know about the multi-billion-dollar eCommerce conglomerate known as Amazon and its owner, the richest man in the world currently, Jeff Bezos? This makes the FireStick among the more popular streaming devices out there, known even to casual viewers of streaming services who are more familiar with Netflix than they are with Amazon Prime.
A Compact Device Pluggable to HDMI:
- Like the Roku Streaming Stick+, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is quite compact and flash drive-esque. You can plug it into any HDTV’s HDMI port. Ditto when it comes to projectors, but only if they have HDMI ports.
- Otherwise, you might need to get an HDMI to VGA or A/V converter/adapter to make the device work, and sometimes it simply won’t because of how many connections are involved. It’s best to err on the side of caution and only use this media streaming device on an HDMI projector.
4K Ultra HD Content on an Affordable Device:
- The 4K variant of the Amazon FireStick, ostensibly enough, is capable of playing 4K UHD movies and TV shows. It also supports a wide range of audio-video standards such as HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision (unlike Roku), HDR10, and HDR.
- This is quite notable because, as noted above, the Fire TV Stick is about $10 cheaper than the leading brand of the Roku Streaming Stick+. To be more specific, the FireStick is about $49 while the Streaming Stick Plus is about $59.
Further reading: How to Connect Fire TV Stick to Projector
The Ever-Reliable Alexa Voice Remote:
- Unique to the FireStick is the Alexa Voice Remote. The remote comes with the Alexa voice assistant that allows you to control not only the stick but also any compatible smart devices in the area (specifically those made by Amazon, like the Ring Doorbell).
- It also has buttons configured in a way to allow you to control both the soundbar and the TV/projector through infrared/IR tech.
It’s Good But Not Perfect:
- The FireStick is a handy device that supports Wi-Fi that’s 802.11ac. You can connect the device to any wired network as well through the use of an Ethernet adapter (optional).
- However, it does have drawbacks such as the unavailability of YouTube TV for U.S. owners of these devices, lack of Fire TV Game Controller support for the 4K edition of the FireStick, and Amazon-centric advertisements and home screen.
The Chromecast Ultra is Google’s answer to both the Roku and Amazon FireStick. It’s not exactly a streaming media player like the two, though. Instead, it’s a streaming dongle for consumers who wish to stream content unto their projectors in order to make their own home cinema without so much hassle and rigmarole.
Learn More About The Streamcasting Concept:
- The Chromecast Ultra works by plugging into the HDMI port of your projector or HDTV in order to stream 4K UHD and HDR content through these displays even if they’re not necessarily smart devices.
- It’s basically a plug-and-play type of connection to allow what’s known as stream casting or mirroring the stream being done on the Google Chrome app of your tablet, laptop, or smartphone.
You Need a Streaming Device to Streamcast via Chromecast Ultra:
- Unlike the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K or, the Roku Streaming Stick+, the Chromecast Ultra can only work if you’re already streaming Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, CrunchyRoll, or what-have-you through your supported tablet, laptop, or smartphone.
- A user can control the Chromecast Ultra from the device they’re using it with for good measure.
Easy to Use and Straightforward
- The main appeal of using the Chromecast Ultra for your streaming needs is the fact that it’s easy to use and simple to execute. Just open your Chrome app installed on your mobile device or PC then select the content you want to play.
- Let’s say you opened the Netflix website and logged into your account there. At that point, the Ultra streams the selected show, video, or movie to your projector where it’s plugged in by linking to the Chrome app instead of the Netflix app and some such.
No User Interface to Browse Through:
- There are many benefits to be had from using the Chromecast Ultra, chief among them the lack of a user interface. Just connect your Chrome app to your Chromecast Ultra device and you’re good to go.
- It also works with apps installed on smart mobile devices without requiring separate downloads, particularly when it comes to the Chrome app. You can even use your streaming device even while streamcasting.
The Need for a Separate Media Player is a Drawback:
- The most obvious drawback of streamcasting is that you need a streamcasting device outside of Chromecast Ultra that also runs the Chrome web browser app in order to allow you to stream the content directly to your projector or HDTV.
- Without smart devices such as a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or PC with Chrome installed, the Chromecast Ultra won’t work. There isn’t even a remote included in the package, just the streamcasting device for Chrome.
Nvidia Shield TV
As for the Nvidia Shield TV, it belongs on this list of best media streaming devices because it prioritizes gaming along with TV show and movie streaming on HDTV and projectors. It’s another 4K HDR entertainment system or streaming gadget that’s about as easy to use as any other streaming or streamcasting device on this list, from Chromecast Ultra to Roku Streaming Stick+.
Watch Content and Play Games:
- You can play games on Amazon FireStick and Chromecast Ultra, but they prioritize movie and show content streaming more than they do games.
- With Nvidia, the comprehensive 4K HDR entertainment solution covers every little thing needed to make a game stream work, including latency, lag, frame rate, and responsiveness on top of quality visuals and smooth graphics on 4K.
Built-In Google Assistant Support:
- Although you’d expect Chromecast Ultra to instead have built-in Google Assistant support, it’s instead Nvidia Shield TV that has it. Because of this, the Shield TV is able to serve as a smart home hub that controls all your compatible smart devices.
- Then again, seeing that Chromecast Ultra is exclusively a streamcasting device, it makes sense that Nvidia is the true smart device converter of the two.
Also Supports Alexa Skills and DVR:
- Nvidia also supports Alexa Skills on top of Google Assistant, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds from both Amazon and Google. Alexa Skills specifically controls the streaming device through voice commands in that special way that only Alexa could.
- What’s more, unlike Roku Streaming Stick+ and Amazon FireStick 4K, the Nvidia Shield can double as a media server and DVR as well.
Comprehensive Set of Features to Allow Entertainment Streaming:
- Instead of doing only movie and TV show streaming like a “regular” or “standard” streaming device could, the Nvidia Shield TV allows you to stream on the projector 4K games as well.
- It can convert your projector into your very on gaming and streaming hub through its comprehensive set of features, which includes Chromecast and Google Assistant support as well as support for Alexa Skill, Dolby Atmos, DTS-X surround sound, and even GeForce No cloud gaming.
What’s the Catch for All of This?
- Here’s the catch for all these quality features. First off, you need to buy a separate SmartThings USB Adapter if you didn’t buy the smart home edition.
- You also need a decently fast Wi-Fi connection to allow tolerable online gaming that’s not maddeningly filled with lag and glitches.
- You also need a USB port expansion because its built-in storage is quite limited. Finally, it can get quite expensive for people who only really want a streaming device like Roku.
Apple TV 4K
Last but not least is the Apple TV 4K. If you want to streamcast or mirror content to your projector from an Apple device, you’ll need an Apple TV. The 4K edition is to ensure 4K content streaming from Apple devices to your third-party projector. Otherwise, you need to hunt down compatible projectors for your iPhone, iPad, or iMac/MacBook.
The iOS Ecosystem Demands Use of the Apple TV 4K:
- There’s a compatibility lockdown for Apple when it comes to third-party systems. Its iPhone doesn’t use USB-C but instead Thunderbolt/Lightning connectors. Ditto with its MacBooks and iPads. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a compatible projector, so in order to allow projector streaming, using a wireless or HDMI connection via Apple TV is your safest bet.
- You can’t stream on those devices directly unless you’re using an Apple-compatible projector.
If You’re an Apple User It’s Probably Your Only Choice:
- The Apple TV 4K is most beneficial for hardcore Apple users who already own Apple devices since those devices can stream on the Apple TV, which in turn can then be mirrored through the projector in a daisy-chained fashion.
- Why? Attempting to stream an iOS device with your projector directly can activate the HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection) that blocks the stream.
Apple TV Mirroring or Streamcasting is an HDCP Handshake:
- HDCP is the copyright protection that prevents digital pirates from easily pirating or copying HD copyrighted content via HDMI. By mirroring the stream on an Apple TV, your projector is given “permission” or a “handshake” that bypasses the automatic HDCP between an iOS device and a non-Apple product.
- Moreover, the Apple TV 4K supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, and 4K HDR content while offering a polished user interface that only Apple can provide.
Apple TV 4K Can Be a Projector-Based Gaming System Too:
- On top of the fact that it can be paired with AirPods for private listening and supports voice search and control with Apple’s answer to Alexa, Siri, it can also double as a gaming system.
- You can use the Apple TV 4K to daisy-chain stream your games to a projector while getting support for Bluetooth gaming controllers such as the Steel Series Nimbus and the like.
It’s Not All Peaches and Cream for Apple:
- There are a number of drawbacks to watching out for when using your Apple TV 4K for projector streaming purposes. Other streaming devices are able to use more content and applications in light of Apple’s “first-party priority” policies regarding apps and devices.
- Only specific regions can enjoy features like live game scores. It also doesn’t support HDR or 4K videos from YouTube. If you’re a gamer, you’ll have to buy a controller separate from the TV.
Final Points to Ponder
At any rate, we agree that the Roku Streaming Stick+ is the best streaming device for projector use, followed by Amazon’s similarly impressive Fire TV Stick 4K. The whole list is arranged from best to worse or most popular to least popular.
Streaming devices that allow you to access digital content such as the Roku Streaming Stick+, Fire TV Stick 4K, Chromecast Ultra, Nvidia Shield TV, and Apple TV 4K might seem like they defeat the purpose of “no physical media”, but they exist in order to allow non-smart projectors and HDTVs the ability to stream. They’re nifty because they can transform your projector into a smart streaming device over your Wi-Fi network with a simple connection.