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Photo of an Apple TV streaming media device remote control.

A streaming media device can add smart TV capability to a television set that lacks this feature, and it could be worth the investment even if you already have a smart TV. An external device such as a Roku stick might give you access to additional streaming services, or simply be easier to use.

Black Friday is a great time to buy a streaming player, with popular models on sale at a variety of retailers. 

Right now, the best Black Friday deals we've seen are on Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, but there are also a few discounts on Google Chromecast players.

We're still holding out hope that there will be some late-breaking deals on Apple TV players, which remain the priciest streamers on the market. (One benefit of buying an Apple TV is that it comes with one free year of the new Apple TV+ streaming service.)


Go to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider shopping tips, and much more.
 

More on Streaming

Generally, streaming devices are either set-top models or small players that plug directly into a TV's HDMI slot. Prices typically range from $30 to nearly $200, but during this year's Black Friday sales, some cost only about half as much as their usual price.

The newest 4K models in our streaming media device ratings support high dynamic range (HDR) technology. When done right, HDR boosts a TV’s brightness, contrast, and color, making the pictures on the screen look more like real life. All models support the HDR10 format, and some also support the Dolby Vision format. (CR can help you find a TV with good HDR performance.)

Here are some of the best Black Friday deals we've seen on streaming players.

Amazon Fire TV Deals

You might think that Amazon would reserve the best Black Friday deals on Amazon Fire TV devices for its own site, but you'll find many of these models discounted at multiple retailers.

Amazon Fire TV Stick
The deal: $20 at Amazon, Best Buy, Dell, and Target
CR's test results: Amazon Fire TV Stick
This is a basic HD model, with solid performance, a low sticker pirce, and access to a decent amount of content. Its biggest advantage is the Alexa voice remote, which can be used to find, launch, and control content. The Fire TV Stick normally sells for $40. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
The deal: $25 at Amazon, Best Buy, Dell, Kohl's, Target
CR's test results: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
This is another half-price deal, on Amazon's 4K player with Alexa voice control. Several retailers will also offer a bundle that pairs the Fire TV Stick 4K with an Echo Dot for $47.

Fire TV Cube
The deal: $90 at Amazon, Best Buy, and Kohl's
CR's test results: Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon has cut the price of its top-end Fire TV Cube, a mashup of a streaming player and an Echo Dot that also lets you control other devices, such as a TV, receiver, or cable box. The Fire TV Cube supports Dolby Vision HDR. With this deal you'll save about $30 from the usual price of $120.

Roku Deals

We like Roku players thanks to their wide assortment of channels, and Roku’s agnostic approach to search across multiple streaming services. (In contrast, Amazon streaming device tend to push Amazon's own content to the top of its recommendations.) Some of these Black Friday deals are also available directly from the Roku website.

Roku SE
The deal:
$18 at Walmart
This model is a Walmart-only exclusive—you can't buy it elsewhere, and we didn't test this model. It will be available beginning Nov. 28 for as long as supplies last. It's a basic HD model that offers access to all the channels you get with other Roku players.

Roku Streaming Stick+
The deal: $30 at Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart
CR's test results: Roku Streaming Stick+
For those looking to step up to 4K picture quality and HDR, this model did well in our tests, and is now about $20 less than its usual selling price.

Roku Ultra
The deal: $48 at Walmart, $50 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Roku Ultra (2nd Gen)
The revamped Roku Ultra is the company's top-performing 4K flagship model. During this Black Friday sale, it's about half its normal selling price. The two deals are close, but Walmart gets the edge thanks to the $2 discount, plus a $5 credit toward a TV show or movie from its Vudu streaming service.

Google Streaming Device Deals

Here are a few Black Friday deals on Google Chromecast models. In general, these devices aren't being discounted as steeply as Amazon Fire and Roku devices—at least not yet. 

Google Chromecast
The deal:
$25 at Best Buy and Target
CR's test results: Google Chromecast (3rd Gen.)
Google's entry-level 1080p streamer will get the $10-off treatment at both Best Buy and Target. Note that with Chromecast, there's no remote; instead you use a smartphone or tablet to select the programs you want to watch, and then send—or "cast," in Google's parlance—content to the TV.

Google Smart TV Kit
The deal: $35 at Walmart
CR's test results:  Google Chromecast (3rd Gen.); Google Home Mini
Walmart will have the Google Smart TV Kit on sale for $35, down from $64. This kit includes a Chromecast plus Google Home Mini, giving you voice control and the ability to watch YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+ on your TV, using simple commands. The deal includes a $10 Vudu credit.

Chromecast Ultra
The deal: $50 at Best Buy
CR's test results: Google Chromecast Ultra
If you like Chromecast but want 4K picture quality and HDR—and perhaps Google's new Stadia game service—then the Chromecast Ultra is the model for you. We don't see it discounted much elsewhere, but Best Buy's sale shaves about $20 off the usual price.