The Best IPTV Boxes [September 2019]
Fewer and fewer people are signing up for cable or satellite TV these days. With so many amazing shows and movies to choose from online through a plethora of subscription services, it can be difficult to justify spending the extra cash on a traditional television formats. Plus, standard broadcast systems only allow you to watch your favorite shows or programs when they broadcast (unless you record them, which adds yet another layer of annoyance to an already annoying situation).
IPTV—which stands for Internet Protocol Television—stands to be the solution to this problem. This technology delivers your favorite television programs on demand, so you don’t have to worry about a limited selection or missing out on your favorite shows, movies, or programs. This revolutionary technology is still in its relative infancy, yet there are a few great IPTV boxes you can pick up today. Here are the best ones for February 2019.
There’s a reason the Fire TV Stick has nearly 200,000 customer reviews on Amazon averaging 4.4 stars. This little guy is our top choice due to its power, selection, versatility, and feel. You might in fact recognize its name. The previous generation Fire TV Stick was solid, but not as great as this latest version, which also happens to be cheaper.
To start, this device’s design and size is outstanding, packing a ton of power into a small box. The physical components revolve around the small “stick” itself, which is plugged into your HDTV, and an Alexa voice remote, which has a small number of vital button controls on it as well. The box also contains a power adaptor, two AAA batteries, and a HDMI extender. All you have to do is plug the stick into your TV and a power outlet, connect to the Internet, and enjoy.
And enjoy you will. With over 15,000 apps, games, and Alexa skills including Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, YouTube, Amazon Video, NBC, WatchESPN, Disney, and more, you’ll have a wealth of entertainment at your fingertips. (Although keep in mind that standard subscriptions to many of these services still apply.)
In the tech world, we’re always a bit cautious when it comes to voice control and activation features, however the included Alexa Voice remote works flawlessly. All you have to do is say your favorite show out loud and boom—it’s on your screen ready to roll. And it should go without saying that if you’re already an Amazon Prime member you’ll have access to Prime Video, featuring thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost. And since the device is running a modified version of Android, you can actually install plenty of content right to your device just by using the in-app installer. Kodi, for example, is one of the most popular ways to install third-party software on your device, making it easy to add outside sources of entertainment.
While the Fire TV Stick remains one of the best choices for several years running, Amazon finally announced a new version of the model going on sale this year. This version, the Amazon Fire TV 4K, is improved in several ways, including the addition of HDR10 (along with HDR10+ and even Dolby Vision) support and, of course, 4K options for streaming content. If you think the improvements for streaming television end there though, you’re wrong—the 4K model also comes with an improved remote featuring volume buttons and a mute button, nice improvements over the version that shipped in 2016.
Whichever version you choose, you’re bound to be happy by what’s included here. The Fire TV Stick, and the brand-new Fire TV Stick 4K, are cheap options that both come in at under $50. With streaming television as cheap as it is, it’s easy to dive into a full ecosystem of apps and games.
- One of the cheapest options
- Alexa support built into the remote
- 4K option is more expensive
We know this isn’t as pretty as the Fire TV Stick, and yes, it’s a bit more expensive. But if you have the cash to throw around you might want to check this out. The SkyStream 3+ is an impressive device—allowing for a great deal of power and a little more user control over content than our #1 pick.
All the basics still apply: You’ll have access to all your favorite TV shows, movies, or programs, and the unit connects effortlessly to the HDMI port on your television. Once plugged in, the setup is super easy thanks to the SkyStream TV Updater (included), and you can watch all the major channels such as Sling TV, NBC News, ABC, CBS, and PBS through their apps. Here’s where the SkyStream ONE stands out: You can utilize 4K UHD streams—meaning you’ll have truly top-notch streams with true-to-life picture quality that just isn’t there with many other IPTV boxes, including Apple TV. And since the SkyStream ONE’s streaming library is constantly growing, it’s likely you won’t ever miss out on your favorite shows.
SkyStream One is built to support High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) delivering more 1080p high-definition streams from streaming applications than ever before—even if you don’t own a 4K TV. Bottom line: If you have a bit more cash, aren’t a huge Amazon fan, and cherish your HD streams, you should definitely check this gadget out.
- High-quality streams
- Wide range of app support
- Lesser-known brand
Alright, back to the pretty ones. We must admit, this VANKYO MatrixBox X95A 4K caught us by surprise. VANKYO isn’t the best-known or most well-established brand when it comes to IPTV units, yet this little guy packs a wallop. With 3GB DDRIII RAM, 32GB EMMC ROM, and storage extension up to 32GB, there’s more than enough room for your favorite games and APKs. This little guy lets you stream over 2,500 channels from the biggest selection of streaming entertainment, including movies, TV shows, music, sports, news, international programming, kids programming, and more. And it sports a super-fast S912 8 Core CPU—which makes a noticeable difference when you want to stream games on the Internet.
- Plenty of storage
- Fast and easy to use
- Unknown brand
- More expensive than other options
If you’ve done any research on IPTV units in the past, you’ll likely recognize this name. These Informir MAG boxes are well-known throughout the streaming universe, due to their efficiency, value, and power. This particular MAG box is the best of the best—boasting a 650MHz processor (STiH207), albeit a minimal amount of RAM (512MB)—making it an ideal solution for IPTV/OTT projects. Given its relatively high price, we would recommend this box to people who stream a lot of heavy data on a regular basis. For instance, if you’re running a small business that utilizes high traffic and bandwidths, you should consider picking one of these up. The MAG 254 was built to use resource-intensive interactive applications and support 3D-video—making it a great solution for businesses, gamers, and TV addicts but possibly a bit too much for the Average Joe who just wants to kick back at the end of the day and watch the news.
- Supports 3D video
- Great for gamers
- Small amount of RAM
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll recognize this title. Indeed, it was the Amazon Fire TV Stick that claimed our coveted number one spot on this list of IPTV units. The reason why its slightly more expensive cousin is at #5 instead of #1 is twofold: 1) We don’t think the added cost is justified for the average consumer, and 2) there’s just a little too much bulk in the standard Amazon Fire TV unit relative to the Fire TV Stick. As with everything tech, however, this all comes down to personal preference.
This box supports 4K Ultra HD for true-to-life picture quality, and you can watch high-definition 1080p streams on Amazon Video, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and more, even without a 4K TV. It also Includes 75% more processing power than the previous generation Amazon Fire TV, a dedicated graphics engine, better Wi-Fi support, 2 GB of memory, 8 GB of storage, and expandable storage of up to 200 GB. All this said, the new Fire TV Stick 4K comes in at $20 less and offers nearly the same options, so you might be better off looking into one of those instead.
- 4K UHD support
- Plenty of storage
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is cheaper
- Takes up more room
Ah, Roku. It seems like for so long this company just wasn’t able to get things right. Early generations of their devices were plagued with bugs, and Apple TV seemed to drown them out with a superior product that carried the title of a household name. Well, Roku finally did figure things out, and this 3rd generation streaming box is fantastic. It comes fully loaded with over 2000 streaming channels, a remote with headphones, and gaming capabilities. It’s also fantastically well-suited for mobile devices through casting, and works with practically any TV with an HDMI connection. And the voice search function is nothing to scoff at. We even tried saying the names of movies and TV shows in funny accents and were unable to fool this clever little device.
- Huge lineup of devices and price options
- Plenty of good remotes
- Lineup can get confusing
- For the best experience you need to drop a lot of money