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How to Pick the Best Roku Device (2024): A Guide to Each Model

How to Pick the Best Roku Device (2024): A Guide to Each Model

Rokus continue to remain our favorite TV streaming devices. They’re super easy to use and offer a wide array of streaming channels. Their displays aren’t fancy, but they offer just what someone needs: quick, direct access to their favorite streaming services. However, figuring out which one to buy is not so easy.

There are currently five Roku streaming devices available, plus TVs, soundbars, and ones sold exclusively at certain retailers (not to mention older models still floating around places like Amazon). Rokus tend to have similar names and look nearly identical, with small changes happening every year or so, and it can be difficult to suss out the differences. We’re here to help. If you’re like us, you want the best Roku for the least amount of money. We’ve broken down the features on the ones we think you’ll actually want to own, starting with the most basic model.

Updated March 2024: We’ve updated this guide with the latest Roku models.

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8 Best TV Streaming Devices for 4K, HD (2023): Roku vs. Fire TV vs. Apple TV vs. Google

8 Best TV Streaming Devices for 4K, HD (2023): Roku vs. Fire TV vs. Apple TV vs. Google

Most of us stream a majority of our content, if we haven’t abandoned cable altogether. Smart TVs rarely have good interfaces, so owning a separate device will make things a whole lot easier (more on that below.).

We’ve tried them all—you can get options from Roku, Apple, Google, Amazon, and even a cheap Walmart-owned brand—so you don’t have to go through a bunch to figure out what works for you, and we’ve separated each of our favorites by what they do best.

Be sure to check out all our guides, especially for picking the best Roku, as well as the Best TVs, Best Soundbars, and Best Smart Speakers we’ve seen.

Updated April 2023: We’ve updated prices and links, and added thoughts on the HD-only Chromecast.

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Apple Music Sing Adds ‘Karaoke Mode’ to Streaming Songs

Apple Music Sing Adds ‘Karaoke Mode’ to Streaming Songs

When it comes to advanced features and seamless compatibility with iOS devices, Apple Music has Spotify well and truly beaten. The Swedish streaming giant has essentially the same content library as Apple and better music discovery algorithms, but Apple Music has the technical edge with support for lossless audio, spatial sound that works in Apple’s super popular earbuds and over-ear headphones, and one of the best features on the market for displaying lyrics. 

And now, Apple is revealing yet another ace up its technological sleeve. Apple Music Sing, available later this month, will give subscribers the ability to transform millions of the platform’s most popular songs into lyric-free sing-alongs, all powered by machine intelligence and proprietary processing technology. 

iKaraoke

iPhone displaying Apple Music with lyrics.

On supported songs in Apple Music, a fader will appear that lets the user turn down the vocals and sing along to the tune. Apple’s is creating the vocal-free versions of popular songs using machine intelligence.

Photograph: Apple

Pretty soon, you’ll be able to pretend you’re any of your favorite artists. It’s a nifty trick that will work on newer iPhones and iPads, and on the most recent version of the 4K Apple TV, should you want to have a group sing-along in the living room.

Apple is adding a fader on the playback interface that adjusts the volume of the vocals in any song supported by the new feature. The timing of the lyrics’ display has also been improved.

Folks who already like to use Apple Music’s lyrics experience to sing along to songs for personal enjoyment or social media videos will already be pretty familiar with the look of the updated lyrics feature. It now highlights the lyrics at the exact moment they appear in the songs, and it has the ability to show where background vocal lines are, rather than quickly mashing two sets of back-and-forth lyrics together. There is even a way to put multiple vocalists’ lyrics on each side of the screen, making multi-singer songs even easier to perform together. (Android users will see the new lyrics interface but won’t get the vocal level slider.)

The feature will only work on a subset of the Apple Music catalog right away; the service is focusing on the most popular songs first, then trickling down this tech to less-sung music over time. At launch, Apple Music will showcase 50 dedicated playlists of popular songs you can sing along to, highlighting the examples that best show off its processing skills. 

Growing Tunes

One thing I’d love to see down the line is an update for Apple-made audio production software Logic that allows musicians and labels to add their own lyrics and timing and to create spatial audio tracks. This would let the artists offer their own enhanced experience to listers with Apple-made headphones like the AirPods Max that support spatial audio. A solution like this might lead to quicker adoption of the technology for songs that don’t have a chance of landing on the 50 playlists, which lean heavily on well-known songs. It would be a sort of DIY addition that Apple could plug into its service to help smaller artists and labels take advantage of these features. 

Still, for the millions and millions of us who watch Carpool Karaoke, or who like to embarrass (or showcase!) ourselves singing in public with our friends, there really isn’t a better way to do it that I can think of beyond Apple Music Sing. And now that Apple Music Sing will make built-in karaoke a key feature anyone with an iOS device can use, Spotify should really be quaking in its reindeer boots.

The Best TV Streaming Devices for Cord Cutters

The Best TV Streaming Devices for Cord Cutters

Most of us stream a majority of our content, if we haven’t abandoned cable altogether. Smart TVs rarely have good interfaces, so owning a separate device will make things a whole lot easier (more on that at the end of this guide).

We’ve tried them all—you can get options from Roku, Apple, Google, Amazon, and even a cheap Walmart-owned brand—so you don’t have to go through a bunch to figure out what works for you, and separated each of our favorites by what they do best.

Be sure to check out all our guides, especially for picking the best Roku, as well as the Best TVs, Best Soundbars, and Best Smart Speakers we’ve seen.

Updated May 2022: We’ve added TiVo’s Stream 4K device.

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Here’s the Gear You Need to Start Your Own Podcast

Here’s the Gear You Need to Start Your Own Podcast

I’m a tall, nerdy, white man in my late twenties who obsesses over tube mics and Japanese-made Les Paul guitars; I’ve never started my own podcast or livestream, but I totally thought I knew the best podcasting gear. It turns out that in the years I’ve spent outfitting my home recording studio with outboard preamps, compressors, and expensive XLR-based microphones, companies have spent tons of research dollars making equipment cheaper and smaller, with pretty incredible results.

I started exploring this more affordable frontier of digital recording and streaming gear, and the takeaway is that it’s easier than ever to produce fantastic-sounding and gorgeous content without emptying your wallet. If you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast or sharing your epic Mario speed runs with the world, here’s what you’ll need.

Be sure to check out our many other guides, like the Best Gear for Learning Music, Best Gear for Making Videos at Home, Best Webcams, and Best Home-Office Gear for more.

Updated February 2022: We’ve added the Elgato Stream Deck, Universal Audio Volt, 512 Mics, Tula Mic, and Sony and Beyerdynamic headphone models.

Table of Contents

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Before You Start

We recommend a lot of gear below, but before you buy anything, think hard about what it is you want to record or livestream. Brainstorm podcast ideas! Block out stories! Think of ways to make your livestreams different from what’s out there. Whether it’s just a hobby or you’re serious about making this a business, good content is always going to be more important than the gear.

You’ll Want a Good Computer

HP Omen desktop PC
Photograph: HP

It’s increasingly possible to record podcasts or stream live audio on smartphones, but it’s quicker, easier, and generally more professional to create and stream content on a personal computer. It doesn’t really matter whether you have a PC or Mac, and the vast majority of modern laptops and desktops are more than fast enough for the audio tasks required.