Save up to $20: Turn any TV into a smart TV with streaming sticks from Amazon and Roku on sale for Black Friday.
Streaming has saved our ass this year.
And after steamrolling through so much content, finding new stuff to fill your time this socially-distant winter might require signing up for a new streaming service. Black Friday is the best time to do so (Sling TV and Peacock are both having Black Friday sales), and is also the best time to invest in a streaming device to keep all of those apps organized — or make it possible to access them on an old TV that previously couldn’t get on the internet.
We’re seeing a ton of deals on multiple streaming sticks from Amazon and Roku, both on bare-bones streamers that turn a non-smart TV smart for cheap and on higher-end streamers that support 4K and HDR. People who own a smart TV that has a frustrating or laggy interface can add a streaming stick for a user experience that flows. For example, a Samsung smart TV owner who wants to watch Shudder might consider investing.
Which brand to get mostly depends on the apps you care about and which smart assistant you prefer. Fire TV obviously works with Alexa only and is compatible with HBO Max, which Roku is not. Roku is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant (though its voice commands just don’t compare to the Alex and Fire TV duo) and is compatible with Peacock, which Fire TV is not. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime, etc. work on both.
Here are the best streaming device deals for Black Friday 2020:
Meet the cheapest way to Amazon smarts to any TV. The Fire TV Stick Lite can do most anything the classic Fire Stick can do except control the TV itself — adjusting volume and turning on/off will still be done through your TV’s remote. (Anyone who purchased the older version a few years ago knows that life. It’s not so bad.) Otherwise, the Lite can access a ton of apps on the Fire TV library and find stuff to watch or listen to through Alexa voice commands. The Lite remote can be used to scroll through apps, play, pause, and skip.
The classic Fire TV Stick is all new and has a new set of buttons: plus and minus controls for volume, a power button, and a mute button. For around the same price as the first-gen Fire Stick (that was way more basic), the new Fire Stick can do pretty much everything that your TV’s remote can do. Dolby Atmos theater audio and 50% faster processing speeds will make your binge-watching experience even better.
No disrespect to the regular Fire Stick, but there’s little reason to not spend another measly $2 to get the 4K version. (The exception being that you don’t have a TV that supports 4K and don’t plan on upgrading to one anytime soon.) The HDR10+ support is what will really make this streamer’s content stand pop. Though any 4K TV should be upscaling content anyway, a streamer that supports 4K seals the deal, sprinkles Dolby Vision in, and can pin down shorter loading times.
If you care more about getting that crisp high-res quality and don’t care about HBO Max, the Roku Premiere 4K can get you 4K and UHD compatibility for almost $6 less than Amazon. Buttons that take you directly to Netflix or Hulu without dealing with the menu are also an added convenience that Fire TV Sticks don’t have yet.
Apartment dwellers who experience choppy WiFi due to a ton of nearby networks might want to spend the extra $5 to get the Roku Streaming Stick+. It can provide the same brilliant 4K and HDR picture quality as the one listed above, just with four times the wireless signal. That long-distance wireless receiver also means streaming through an outdoor projector in the backyard should be as fast as streaming right next to your router.