No matter what you’re streaming, it’s not always the platform that makes the difference – the device you use is also crucially important. There’s a huge range options to choose from – here’s how to choose the right streaming device for you.
Choosing a Streaming Device
Each of the devices above can be a great fit for many people, but it ultimately depends on how you plan to use it. The Australian streaming market is hugely competitive, so you need to check if the services you subscribe to can be used on your desired gadget.We’ve put together an extensive guide comparing the most popular streaming devices on the market. Whether you’re interested in Apple TV, Telstra TV, game consoles, or streaming sticks, you can check out the pros and cons of each one to narrow down your choice.
Latest Deals and Offers
Whether it’s a discounted device you can buy outright, or a way to get your streaming device bundled in with a broadband plan, there’s always some special offers you should be checking out before you buy. Keep an eye on this page and we’ll keep you up to date with the latest offers and best prices!
Why Buy a Streaming Device?
The way we watch TV has come a long way in a very short time. Now more than half of Australia’s population regularly spends time watching TV, movies or sport on a streaming service. But how you enjoy your streaming TV can depend on what device you choose to stream it with – and there’s a an increasingly large and diverse range of them to choose from.
Not surprisingly, it’s the big screen TVs at home where we do most of our streaming. Nobody wants to sit at a desk in front of a computer to watch the big game or balance a laptop on the couch while struggling to hear what’s being said through tiny speakers. We want to watch streaming TV on a TV, and that’s where these clever devices come into play.
There’s a wide range of different streaming services on offer, large and small. Along with Netflix and Stan – the big guns of streaming with over a million users each – there’s Amazon’s Prime Video, Binge, niche services like hayu (for reality TV), DocPlay and Curiosity Stream (documentaries) and more. For live premium TV, movies and sports, there’s Foxtel Now and Fetch TV, and for all things sport we have Kayo.
All these services need apps, and those apps need a device to run on.
We Stream A Lot!
It’s hard to imagine that only a few short years ago, only a very small group of people in Australia were using streaming services at all – and most of them were using internet trickery to make the then-US-only Netflix think they were in the same country. Once Stan and then Netflix arrived, though, TV in Australia changed forever and typically for Australians, we took to it like a duck to (streaming) water.
These days, there’s a wide range of different streaming services on offer, large and small. Along with Netflix and Stan – the big guns of streaming with over a million users each – there’s Amazon’s Prime Video, niche services like hayu (for reality TV), OvoPlay (for fringe sports), DocPlay and Curiosity Stream (documentaries) and more. For live premium TV, movies and sports, there are Foxtel Now and Fetch TV, for on-demand movies and TV there’s BINGE and Telstra TV Box Office – and now for all things sport we have Kayo.
All these services need apps, and those apps need a device to run on.
Can’t a Smart TV Do the Job?
A “smart” TV is basically a TV with a dedicated computer built in that can run apps. This can be great for streaming – after all, Netflix is on almost every device and Stan isn’t far behind. A capable “smart” TV can run apps for these services fairly well and get the job done. But what happens when you want to stream from a service that hasn’t got its app on your TV – like with the sports streaming service Kayo? Simply waiting for an app isn’t a great solution, as many streaming services prioritise devices first, and older TVs often miss out completely.
And then there’s the millions of TVs out there that aren’t quite so “smart” – but still deliver a stunning HD picture for their owners, who don’t want to have to replace a perfectly good television just to get one with apps on it. It’s much easier and a lot cheaper to pick up a streaming device instead.
The Top Streaming Devices
There’s a vast range of different devices used for streaming, and alongside the ones we mention here, there’s quite a few niche devices making their way here from countries like China (mostly Android-powered boxes that are more for the technically minded). Keep in mind that streaming devices don’t have to just be a tiny box that does streaming and nothing else. The computing power and HD video support of some other devices can make them ideal for streaming as well. You may even already have one in your living room!
Apple was one of the first companies to introduce a dedicated streaming device, with the Apple TV released in Australia years before full-scale streaming was a thing here. By the time Netflix and Stan arrived to kick things off properly, the 4th-generation Apple TV was on the horizon and it’s this model – along with the 5th-generation Apple TV 4K – that’s still the benchmark today that other streaming devices can aspire to. With comprehensive app support for almost every streaming service you can imagine, big and small, it’s a true “one device to do it all” purchase that just gets better and better as you find more apps to add to it. Oh, and it also plays games. It may be expensive (from $249) but it’s well worth it.
On the other end of the pricing scale we find the much-loved Chromecast, which is a streaming device with a difference. Available in two versions – regular and “Ultra” (the latter supporting 4K streaming) the Chromecast is a little circular device that plugs into a spare HDMI port on your TV or amp. To use it, you load up an app on your phone or tablet and tell it to “cast” to your Chromecast device. Then everything you play is sent to your TV with your mobile device acting as the remote control. Chromecast is supported by thousands of apps and costs only around $59 for the HD version, while the 4K Chromecast Ultra costs about $99.
Based on the popular Roku range of streaming boxes that have sold millions in the US (with the familiar interface even integrated into some popular TVs there), the Telstra TV 3 is, as the name suggests, available only from one place – Telstra. The version currently available is the third generation of the box, and it’s a solid and reliable piece of kit that may not win any awards for its user interface, but which makes up for it by being incredibly easy to use. Telstra TV can be had for free on the right Telstra broadband plan, or bought for $216 outright (though you need a Telstra broadband service to use some of its features).
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon’s hugely popular Fire TV devices have a long pedigree in the US, and it was only a matter of time before they started arriving here as well. So far, Amazon has opted to release only one model in Australia – the “Basic Edition”. It’s fast, it’s well designed, it’s got a great little remote control, and it doesn’t cost very much (usually $69, it’s frequently sold a lot cheaper).
Foxtel Now Box
It hasn’t made much of an impact in the market overall, but Foxtel’s specially-made streaming box is a terrific piece of kit – but only if you’re a Foxtel Now subscriber. You need to at least subscribe to the free 10-day trial to activate this $99 box, and can then use it without Foxtel Now if you like – but its user interface is built around the Foxtel experience. Outside of that it’s a quite powerful and well-equipped Android TV based box that does all the right things, including providing access to the Google Play store.
Sony Playstation 4
The multi-multi-million-selling game console that currently dominates the gaming world also happens to be a very capable media device. The PS4 supports a comprehensive range of streaming apps and the purpose-designed TV menu gives you constantly updated highlights and suggestions. It also happens to play games. A “Pro” version is available as well which enables 4K and HDR for both streaming and gaming – if you’ve got a 4K TV, go for the Pro version. A low-cost media remote control is available to make streaming more couch-friendly.
Microsoft Xbox One
Notorious for being more focussed on TV than gaming at its launch a few years back, the Xbox One has long been a great device for streaming – especially because even its base model (the Xbox One S) supports 4K output for both streaming and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. It’s hard to beat for the price, if you want something for streaming that can also play the latest games. A far more expensive high-powered version (Xbox One X) is available as well, but for streaming video it’s effectively the same. As with the PS4, you can buy an inexpensive media remote for the Xbox One and if you’re streaming, we highly recommend you do so. If you’re looking to bundle your gaming with your broadband, Telstra currently offers broadband + gaming packages, which include a Xbox One S or X console.
Broadband Plans with Streaming Devices
If it’s an all-in-one solution you’re looking for, you could consider going for a broadband plan that comes with a streaming device in the bundle, basically getting you all set up with everything you need to start streaming. Here’s a couple of plans we recommend.
Telstra TV + Unlimited Data Bundle
Without a doubt, Telstra offers the best internet + entertainment bundles in the game. For only $99/month, you get unlimited broadband plus the latest Telstra TV 3 device, supporting all major streaming apps including Telstra TV Box Office. A Telstra Smart Modem is also included in the bundle if you stay connected for 24 months. If you want more, you can opt to get unlimited data + Foxtel Sports HD or Movies HD for $140/month.
Telstra TV + 500GB Data Bundle
You don’t have to purchase an unlimited internet plan to bundle a streaming device. For $84/month, you can get Telstra’s 500GB plan with Telstra TV, a great option if you don’t stream enough to need unlimited data. The 500GB Data plan can also be bundled with other streaming options, such as with Foxtel’s Sports HD or Movies HD packs.
No matter which device you choose, you’re going to find it quickly becoming an integral part of your leisure time. It’s important to think about what you want from a device and the streaming services you’re likely to spend a lot of time with, and decide accordingly. If you can stretch the budget to afford it, the Apple TV 4K is still one of the all-round best – although if you’ve got a collection of movies and TV shows that you’ve purchased in the Google Play ecosystem, a Chromecast or an Android TV powered device may be the way to go.