Best Apple TV 4K alternatives 2022

Chromecast With Google Tv
Chromecast With Google Tv (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

The release of the Apple TV 4K (2021) means there's one more streaming device on the market with the capability to stream content at the highest level currently available. In addition to being available at two price points, the 32GB for $149 and the 64GB for $179, the latest edition of the Apple TV 4K utilities Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision HDR, and a new color calibration mode feature. But is Apple's latest streaming box worth the hype and price tag? Not necessarily. Here's a list of the best Apple TV 4K alternatives on the market right now.

Best overall: Chromecast with Google TV

Chromecast With Google Tv Lifestyle

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In addition to being an affordable alternative to the Apple 4K, the Chromecast with Google TV streaming device is by far the most versatile and best-performing dongle released by Google to date. It also comes in three fun colorways: Snow, Sunrise, and Sky.

In addition to combining both casting and Google TV streaming into one affordable device, the Chromecast with Google TV is optimized to stream SK, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision content, as well as Dolby Atmos audio. Google's newest streaming device also replaces the previous Android TV interface with the new and improved Google TV interface, making curating content based on your interests even easier.

It's worth pointing out that the Chromecast with Google TV Google Assistant instead of Apple's popular virtual assistant Siri is currently only able to cast from mobile devices to your smart TV with browser content or Android apps. However, Google recently announced it has plans to support AirPlay 2 for streaming 4K video from Apple devices in the future.

Chromecast with Google TV

Best for casting

Better curated suggestions
More cross-platform compatibility
Supports various audio formats
Limited internal storage
Doesn't support 4K across all platforms
No Stadia support

Best Roku 4K Box: Roku Express 4K+

Roku Express Plus

Source: Best Buy (Image credit: Source: Best Buy)

At just $40, the Roku Express 4K+ is one of the best 4K-enabled streaming boxes on the market right now.

The new Roku Express 4K+ serves as a direct replacement for the previously-released Roku Premiere and gives users the HD, 4K, and HDR stream via dual-band wireless. The Express 4K Plus also has the ability to connect Ethernet, a feature that was most recently restricted to Roku's Ultra boxes.

The Roku Express 4K+ stands out among other Apple TV 4K alternatives because it supports Apple's AirPlay system, which Amazon and Google currently lack. Specifically, Roku users can mirror screens and share photos from iPhones and other Apple devices to connect to the TV wirelessly.

While Dolby Atmos audio is supported by the Express Plus 4K on certain apps, the device doesn't support Dolby Vision at this time. The Roku Express 4K Plus also ships with Roku's "point anywhere" voice remote. While the remote doesn't include a headphone jack for private listening, users have the option to buy a Headphone Edition version of the dongle via Roku or use the mobile app and listen privately by attaching headphones to their mobile device.

Roku Express 4K+

High quality, low price

Multipurpose voice remote
Private listening on mobile
Support for Apple AirPlay
No headphone jack in remote
No Dolby Vision support
Limited WiFi range

Best Roku alternative: Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The Roku Streaming Stick+ is a compact streaming device that allows users to stream HD, 4K, and HDR content. The Streaming Stick+ retails for $40 to $70, depending on the point of purchase, and is comparable in size to the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

It also comes with a sleek voice remote and works seamlessly with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google. The Roku Streaming Stick+ is compatible with HD TVs, 4K UHD TVs, and 4K UHD HDR TVs with an HDMI 2.0a port. Because the device doesn't have Dolby Vision HDR, so it delivers all HDR videos as HDR10.

The Roku Streaming Stick+ comes with the same voice remote as the Roku Express 4K+, which uses the new Roku OS and is compatible with Apple AirPlay. The Streaming Stick+ is also a great device for users who will be using it a good distance away from their WiFi router, as it has a built-in long-range wireless receiver.

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku's best dongle

Wider WiFi range
Multipurpose voice remote
Private listening on mobile
No Ethernet port
More pricey than comparable dongles
Only supports HDR10

Best compact competitor: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire Tv Stick 4k

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Amazon's most powerful streaming media stick, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, continues to be one of the best streaming dongles on the market at the $50 price point.

Like other alternatives mentioned on this list, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K makes it easy to stream 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+ content. The Fire TV Stick 4K also comes with the latest version of Amazon's Alexa Voice Remote, which allows you to find 4K versions of movies and television series with simple voice commands.

The upgraded remote includes the menu and playback controls that appeared on the original version but adds the ability to control your TV's power and volume from the same remote. And while Apple and Google services are currently absent on Fire TV, you can access most major streaming apps.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Big visuals, small package

Sleek voice remote
Amazon Alexa
Supports Dolby Vision
No Google Play apps
Doesn't support Apple Airplay
Requires power adapter

Best 4K Box Dupe: Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon Fire Tv Cube Left

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

While there are a handful of differences when pitting the Apple TV 4K+ versus the Amazon Fire TV Cube, the Fire TV Cube provides a relatively similar experience at a slightly lower price. Like the Apple TV 4K and other alternatives on this list, the Fire TV Cube supports the streaming of content in 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+ and supports Dolby Atmos.

Beyond its use as a 4K streamer, the Fire TV Cube doubles as a hands-free Echo device, allowing users to control their Smart TV and soundbar, as well as a variety of other devices, with help from Alexa. The Fire TV Cube also contains a built-in IR transmitter, meaning users can use the box's remote to turn on the TV, change channels, and switch inputs, among other tasks, manually.

Another perk of the Fire TV Cube is that it's designed to protect the privacy of its user and features built-in privacy protections and controls, including a "microphone off" button that electronically disconnects when it's not being used.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon's fastest device

Cheaper than Apple TV 4K
Doubles as Echo device
Supports HDR10+
Built-in speakers could be better
No USB connector
No Apple Music of Now TV

Best for gamers: NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

Nvidia Shield Tv Pro

Source: NVIDIA (Image credit: Source: NVIDIA)

If you're a dedicated Android user or an avid gamer, the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro offers everything the Apple TV 4K offers — and more — for roughly the same price.

The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro includes 4K HDR video support with Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos audio capabilities. While it offers about half the amount of storage as the Apple TV 4K at 16GB, it improves Apple's product by featuring two USB ports and audio support for DTS-X Surround.

The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro also features a Nvidia Tegra X1+ processor, enabling advanced 4K upscaling. The latest version of the Shield TV Pro also runs on the Android 9.0 (Pie) operating system and is powered by Android TV with Chromecast 4K built-in. It's also integrated with Google Assistant functionality.

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

The elite competitor

Great for gaming
AI-enhanced upscaling
Two USB ports
More expensive than Apple TV 4K
Larger than Apple TV 4K
Less internal storage

Bottom line

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While the Apple 4K is a premier 4K streamer with lots of perks, companies like Google, Roku, and Amazon have proved they can offer 4K devices with comparable features at a fraction of the cost in 2021.

If you're not an Apple loyalist or aren't in the market to invest more than $100 on a streaming device, then the Chromecast with Google TV beats the Apple TV 4K. It's also more versatile than the Apple TV 4K when it comes to connecting with cross-platform devices and utilizes Google Assistant, which tends to be more accurate than Siri.

If your household features a mix of Apple and Android devices, and you depend heavily on casting, then you'll probably want to consider one of Roku's 4K alternatives. Among other impressive features, both the Roku Express 4K+ and the Roku Streaming Stick+ operate on Roku OS, which is compatible with AirPlay. That feature might be enough to convert users with Apple devices to the more affordable Roku 4K alternatives.

Alternately, Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube hold their own in the streaming space and are the best picks for users who use Alexa regularly. While the Fire TV Cube is comparable in price to the Apple TV 4K (2021), it's double-duty as a 4K streaming device, and Echo device will probably give it the edge for some.

We've only included the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro because it's on par with the Apple TV 4K regarding streaming quality, functionality, and design. That being said, it's even pricer than the Apple product and seems to be a high-end, niche device aimed at gamers and streamers with a need for extensive external storage.

There are many things to consider when picking the right streaming device, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference and streaming habits. Hopefully, this guide will point you in the right direction.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author: Keegan Prosser

Keegan Prosser is a freelance contributor based in the PNW. When she's not writing about her favorite streaming apps and devices for Android Central, she's listening to a true-crime podcast, creating the perfect playlist for her next road trip, and trying to figure out which fitness tracker she should try next. You can follow her on Twitter @keeganprosser.

Keegan Prosser

Keegan Prosser is a freelance contributor based in the PNW. When she's not writing about her favorite streaming apps and devices for Android Central, she's listening to a true-crime podcast, creating the perfect playlist for her next road trip, and trying to figure out which fitness tracker she should try next. You can follow her on Twitter @keeganprosser.