September 29, 2022


You’ve probably streamed more TV shows and movies than ever before. Services such as YouTubeNetflix and Disney Plus you have countless hours of entertainment, but of your home network Internet connection can also struggle with all that flow — especially if the kids are Distance learning and the big ones are video conference At the same time. But there are streaming devices available in the market that can help you.

If your home network is experiencing problems, you can try disconnecting your streaming device from Wi-Fi. Using Ethernet instead, over a Cat 5 network cable, frees up the wireless network for other devices, such as laptops and tablets. Ethernet is also more stable and usually faster than Wi-Fi and has no problems with walls, interference or distance (well, not in a house).

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Most of the best media streamers are Wi-Fi only, although some work with an inexpensive adapter.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Read more: The best Wi-Fi extender for almost everyone

The bad news is that you’ll need to run cables from your router to your TV to stream, but if you’re stuck at home, this is a good weekend project and Ethernet cable is cheap. During periods of high usage you may be fine running a temporary cable that you can remove later.

There is, however, a catch. While many game consoles and smart TVs have built-in Ethernet ports, most of them the best media streamers they are Wi-Fi only, although some work with a cheap adapter. Here’s a list of the best choices of wired streaming devices that either have built-in Ethernet ports or work with Ethernet adapters. Note that all the products below also work over Wi-Fi.

Read more: How to improve streaming TV quality on Netflix, Amazon Prime and more

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The top spot on this list was held by Roku’s most expensive player, the Ultra, but the $40 Express 4K Plus replaced it. Roku is our favorite streaming system because it has all the major streaming apps, the simplest interface, and a content-agnostic platform that doesn’t push any particular media streaming provider, like Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV Plus, over another. The Express 4K Plus also streams in 4K HDR, though this Roku device doesn’t have Dolby Vision.

Unlike the Ultra, the Express 4K Plus doesn’t have an Ethernet port built into the body of the diminutive dongle, but you can easily add one with a $10-$15 adapter from a retailer like Amazon (we tested it with a cable $12 from a company called UGreen and it worked fine). This combination isn’t quite as sleek as a built-in adapter, but it would be about $50 cheaper than the $100 Ultra.

Please note that the price below does not include the adapter.

Read our review of the Express 4K Plus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google makes an inexpensive adapter that lets you plug a wired Ethernet cable into its Chromecast streaming devices, including the excellent new Chromecast with Google TV. The combo costs a total of $70 — $50 for the Chromecast and $20 for the Google adapter. We like Roku’s system better than Google TV, but it’s close and in some ways, particularly the Google Assistant’s voice support, this streaming media combo is a better choice than the Roku Ultra and a close second to the Express 4K Plus .

Please note that the price below does not include the adapter.

Read our Chromecast with Google TV review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Although the Apple TV 4K costs more than double the above options, it is the best choice for people who can appreciate its advantages. These include Dolby Vision HDR compatibility, flexible transcoding, superior voice command features, a better remote control, and a sleek user interface. Apple TV 4K is so good for streaming media, it makes sense even if you’re not an “Apple person”.

Read our Apple TV 4K (2021) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku

Only available at Walmart, this is technically the cheapest current device with a Roku streaming system and an Ethernet port. However, the savings compared to the real, non-LT Ultra aren’t great, and it lacks the device’s nifty extras like Dolby Vision, programmable keys, quick app launch, and a remote control.

CNET

As we mentioned, Roku makes our favorite media streamers for live TV streaming apps like Netflix, and it’s even better as a built-in-TV platform. This TCL 4 Series is one of the most affordable Roku TVs on the market, available in a range of sizes and with picture quality that’s perfect for most people, especially at this price. And like all 4K-capable Roku TVs in North America, it has an Ethernet port.

Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch (The price shown below is for the 43-inch size.)

Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.

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