You don’t have to spend a lot of money on equipment to cut the cord. Getting started can cost you $50 or less if you buy one of the streaming devices on my list.
For the past couple of years, I’ve recommended two affordable Roku devices for first-time streamers and anyone on a budget.
But my advice has changed after Roku introduced a new device for 2021.
In this article and the video below, I review the best cheap streaming devices under $50. I purchased and tested all of the devices featured.
1. Roku Express 4K+
Roku launched the Roku Express 4K+ in May 2021 and it quickly became my #1 pick for first-time streamers.
The Roku Express 4K+ streams in 4K, features voice search and has a remote control that you can pair with your TV’s remote.
Doing so allows you to power the TV and control the volume with the Roku remote.
Roku Express 4K+ is separate from the entry-level Roku Express. The Roku Express 4K+ is a new and improved version of Roku Premiere, which is a device that I previously recommended.
It’s no longer available on Roku’s website, but the Roku Premiere may still be sold in stores.
While the Roku Premiere streams in 4K, it has a simple remote. The Roku Express 4K+ and its feature-packed remote is worth a few extra bucks.
The regular price of the Roku Express 4K+ is $39.99.
2. Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku Streaming Stick+ is another under $50 Roku device that I’ve tested over the years and really enjoy using.
The remote that comes with Roku Streaming Stick+ has voice search and TV controls. It’s the same remote that you get with my previous recommendation, Roku Express 4K+.
The primary advantage that Roku Streaming Stick+ has over the Roku Express devices is that it’s more portable.
That’s because it’s a stick and plugs directly into the HDMI port on the back of your TV.
If you want to take it on vacation, just unplug the Streaming Stick+ and remember to take the power cord and remote with you.
In fact, you don’t even need the remote. You can download the free Roku remote app if you need to.
The Roku Express devices are portable as well, but it’s less convenient if you attached your Roku to your TV with the one-time use adhesive strip included in the box.
Roku Streaming Stick+ is sold for $49.99, $10 more than Roku Express 4K+.
KEY POINT: With either the Roku Express 4K+ or Roku Streaming Stick+, you get access to Roku’s interface. I like Roku’s home screen for first-time streamers because it features big, bright thumbnails that make it easy to get to your preferred apps and add new ones.
3. Chromecast with Google TV
When I’m not streaming with a Roku device, I’m most likely using Chromecast with Google TV.
Previous versions of Chromecast did not have a remote, but the Chromecast with Google TV does. It’s slightly smaller than a Roku remote, but it has similar features.
Chromecast with Google TV’s interface is busier than Roku’s, although it does a good job of helping you discover content to watch across all of your apps.
My favorite feature is Chromecast with Google TV’s built-in Google Assistant.
Over time, I’ve found that Chromecast with Google TV has handled voice commands much better than my Roku devices.
Chromecast with Google TV is $49.99 at the regular price.
4. Amazon Fire TV Stick
If you want to stream in 4K, that’s obviously the one to buy. Otherwise, I think you’ll be fine purchasing the third generation of the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
This device has an Alexa voice remote and TV controls like the other players on my list.
The biggest thing that stands out to me about the Amazon Fire TV Stick is the speed. It’s much faster than the two previous Fire TV devices I’ve purchased dating back to 2018.
You get Alexa, so voice search is a definite pro. But Amazon Fire TV’s menus are more complicated to sort through compared to Roku.
Amazon Fire TV Stick is $39.99 at the regular price.
If you’re thinking about purchasing any of the devices I’ve mentioned in this article, you don’t have to pay full price!
There are frequent deals and discounts on Roku, Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV devices throughout the year. However, you’ll find the best deals around Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.
And just one more thing:
The best cheap streaming device is probably the one you already have.
I wrote this article as a resource for people who need a new streaming media player. But if you have an old device that still works, keep using it until you’re ready to upgrade.
And when you do, you can move that device to a secondary TV or donate it to someone else.
What’s your favorite streaming media player for under $50 and why do you like it? Leave a comment below and join my YouTube community for more ways to save on streaming TV.