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Kirk’s Holiday Tech Gift Guide – Streaming boxes for your TV

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Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming services are better than ever and so many of us rely on them to watch our favorite movies and shows.  How you get that stream to your TV can be a complicated process.  A new streaming TV box might be the perfect holiday gift.  Here are a few of my favorites!

20161215_074201Nvidia Shield - $200

If you want the best of the best, the most powerful Android box that you can buy for under $200, the Nvidia Shield is it!  Nvidia is no stranger to high-end hardware, they've been making high-end graphics chips  for computers since the 90's.  So it's not surprise that when they make an Android TV box, it's designed for games.  Android games that are good on your phone or tablet are even better on the Nvidia Shield.  The Shield supports 4k resolution and is bundled with a heavy duty gaming controller.  You'll have access to the full Google Play store.

If you can spend the money on the premium price, it's my pick for the BEST Android set-top box on the market.  It seems to be hard to find but Best Buy's website does have it in stock.  I also found it for $170 refurbished on Amazon.

20161215_074156Emtec Gem Box - $100

If you want an Android set-top box that will double as a gaming box without spending $200, the Emtec Gem Box is a great option.  The box itself is surprisingly small, the custom Android interface is easy to navigate and gameplay is pretty good for a low-cost box.  A bluetooth game controller with a built-in rechargeable battery is bundled in the box.  You get access to the Google Play store to buy games and apps and it also works with GameFly streaming game service.

The Gem Box is a perfect option for someone looking to get their game on without dropping a ton of cash.

20161215_074154Apple TV - $149

Apple TV is better than ever before.  If you use an iPhone or iPad along with iTunes, there isn't really a better option for your TV.  It works seamlessly with those services and devices.  You can check out my full review of the new Apple TV from earlier this year.  It's a powerful box with an awesome remote for $149.

Roku

Roku was the first streaming box and is still among the best options if you want to stream video content on your TV.  The company now has a bunch of options starting at just $30.

20161215_074149Roku Express - $30

If you need something simple and inexpensive, there is no better option than the Roku Express.  It gives you the time-tested Roku interface, access to thousands of Roku apps and at a price that is hard to believe.  It streams Netflix, Hulu and just about every other streaming service under the sun.  It's not the fastest interface and the remote is IR only but for $30, who cares!  It's a perfect inexpensive gift for someone who hasn't jumped on the streaming stick bandwagon yet.

20161215_074143Roku Ultra - $120

If you love the Roku interface, don't care much about high-end gaming and want access to as many streaming apps as possible, the Roku Ultra is the best of the best.  It supports 4k video, HDR and is supported by a quad-core processor.  It's the most powerful Roku box yet.  The remote is not IR so you can point it anywhere and it has a headphone jack too.  This is perfect if you want the kids to watch TV but don't want to hear the 2 hour marathon of "Jesse."  Personally, I think it's about time Roku revamps their menu interface but so many people have come to love it.  It's hard to change something that users are so comfortable with.  If you love Roku, this is THE box to get.