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A Guide to 5 of the Best Network Media Players in 2021

A Guide to 5 of the Best Network Media Players in 2021
Owen Pham Published: 18 February 2021
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Online content is pretty much dominating the entertainment industry. But it is not easy keeping up with the digital devices needed to access such content. Also, living a smart life is quickly becoming the new normal; virtual assistants are now considered a family member in many households. Network media players are small, handy devices that can take care of all of your entertainment needs. They can even go beyond that and help you with managing a smart home.

TV boxes support most of the well-known online streaming services. So you can watch your favourite shows on a big screen even if you don’t have a smart TV. Some media players use apps to play music or be connected to your devices and display your local files on the screen. Media boxes that work with voice-command usually connect to smart appliances and double as a home automation controller. In this article, we have looked at some of the best network media players available in Australia and compared their features, prices, and benefits to help you find what fits your needs.

How we chose our top picks

To select some of the best network media players, we compared 32 products from 16 leading brands like Apple, Amazon, Google, Noontec, and OSMC. Our editorial team looked at the different benefits and features mentioned on productreview.com.au. To reach an unbiased conclusion, we also viewed more than 100 reviews of different TV boxes.

Learn more about our methodology

Top 5 best media players for TV in Australia

For smart homes

If you have your home appliances connected to the internet. These network media players can double as a smart home gadget for you:

For playing media only

If you are only looking for a quality TV box and prefer traditional entertainment, get these media players for a reasonable price:

Apple TV 4th Gen — Easiest to use

Pros

  • Lightning to USB cable included
  • Siri remote control
  • User-friendly interface

Cons

  • Expensive

Price (RRP): $209.00

Apple TV 4th Gen — Easiest to use
Source: Good Guys

Apple TV 4th Genhas an interface that more or less looks like a big iPad screen. You can use AirPlay to easily connect your iPhone and iPad wirelessly to this media box. With a TV app that automatically recognizes and organizes your recently watched episodes, streaming online content has never been easier.

Specs

  • Connections: WiFi, Ethernet, HDMI, USB C, Bluetooth, AirPlay
  • Dimension: 3.5 x 9.8 x 9.8 cm; 425 Grams

Customer Reviews

Overall, this TV box received great reviews. Users were delighted with how online streaming content did not require a waiting time (with a good internet connection).

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro — Ideal for gamers

Pros

  • Remote control
  • Voice-command
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K quality

Cons

  • Expensive

Price (RRP): $309.00

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro — Ideal for gamers
Source: Kogan

NVIDIA Shield TV Pro brings high-quality videos from most of your favourite online streaming services to your TV screen. This network media player also supports Google Play Games and GeForce, so the whole family can now enjoy a team play on the big screen. With 4K visuals and sound quality like no other, Shield TV is a great asset to any gamer.

Specs

  • Connections: WiFi, Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3 port, HDCP, Bluetooth
  • Dimension: 15.9 x 9.8 x 2.59 cm; 250 Grams

Customer Reviews

This media player received extraordinary reviews. Customers were happy with the easy set-up, as well as the extraordinary sound quality.

Eco Show 8 — Best built-in display

Pros

  • Built-in displaying screen
  • Video calling
  • Alexa (voice-command helper)

Cons

  • No screen customization

Price (RRP): $159.00

Eco Show 8 — Best built-in display
Source: Amazon

Eco Show 8 is Amazon’s streaming device, but it does much more than that. This media box connects to your smart home appliances so that Alexa can help you manage your home with voice-command. Thanks to the built-in displaying screen, you can stream videos from anywhere as long as you have a steady internet connection.

Specs

  • Connections: WiFi, 3.5 mm audio output, Bluetooth
  • Dimension: 20 x 13.6 x 9.9 cm; 1.037 Kilograms

Customer Reviews

Reviewers enjoyed the all-in-one package that Eco Show 8 media player is. However, there were some complaints about the lack of customization options for what the screen displays.

Google Chromecast — Best streaming services

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Various online streaming services

Cons

  • Not compatible with smart appliances

Price (RRP): $59.00

Google Chromecast — Best streaming services
Source: Good Guys

Google Chromecast connects to your phone or laptop via WiFi and turns them into remote controls. You can then choose streaming apps or local files to cast on the big screen of a TV, connected to the media player with an HDMI cable. Chromecast supports the best varieties of online streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, YouTube, Disney +, ESPN, CBS, Pandora, Amazon Prime, etc.

Specs

  • Connections: WiFi, HDMI
  • Dimension: 5.18 x 1.37 x 5.18 cm; 36 Grams

Customer Reviews

Buyers of this media player seem to have enjoyed their purchase generally. The fast loading speed was an essential factor mentioned in several reviews.

Google Chromecast Ultra — Most cost-effective

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Various online streaming services
  • 4K quality

Cons

  • Not compatible with smart appliances

Price (RRP): $81.00

Google Chromecast Ultra — Most cost-effective
Source: Kogan

Google Chromecast Ultra helps you stream online content on your regular TV screen in 4K quality. Unlike its older variety, Chromecast Ultra is compatible with Ethernet so that you can get a more stable connection. You can get all these features for a humble price of under $100.

Specs

  • Connections: WiFi, Ethernet, HDMI
  • Dimension: 5.82 x 5.82 x 1.37 cm; 47 Grams

Customer Reviews

After reading the customer reviews, we can safely say that buyers are satisfied with Chromecast Ultra, especially that there is no lag time and great visual quality.

What to consider before buying a network media player?

Compare the best network media players to buy in Australia

ModelPriceFeatures
Apple TV 4th Gen$209.00
  • Lightning to USB cable included
  • Siri remote control
  • User-friendly interface
NVIDIA Shield TV Pro$309.00
  • Remote control
  • Voice-command
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K quality
  • Built-in displaying screen
Eco Show 8$159.00
  • Built-in displaying screen
  • Video calling
  • Alexa (voice-command helper)
Google Chromecast$59.00
  • Reasonable price
  • Attachment for additional passengers
  • Various online streaming services
  • Hypoallergenic and anti-microbial mattress
  • Extended 3-year warranty
Google Chromecast Ultr$81.00
  • Reasonable price
  • Various online streaming services
  • 4K quality
  • 12-month warranty

Source: Good Guys, Amazon, Kogan (February 2021)

Our methodology

16 brands examined

32 products compared

5 products chosen

Brands Compared

To choose the best changing mats for babies, we examined the following brands:

We then carefully read hundreds of online reviews given by customers who have bought and tried these products. We looked at the features of each network media player to see how it performed.

We then chose the top 6 media boxes  in terms of quality, cost, ease of use and the variety of features, based on our research.

Take note: We have not reviewed all products on the market, and we may receive compensation when you click links on our site or purchase products or services from partners. However, we value our editorial independence, and all reviews and comparisons are based on an unbiased analysis of our research.

Conclusion

Considering features such as the streaming services supported, compatibility with file types, price, and connection options, Apple TV 4th Gen seems to be a perfect all-in-one package. It conforms to most users’ needs, be it about entertainment or smart home management. Google Chromecast Ultra is the perfect choice for those who are only looking to stream online content on their TV. It is also very reasonably priced, so you should go for this media box if you are on a budget.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  • Do you have to have a smart TV?

    You do not need a smart TV to be able to use a network media player. What these media boxes do is that they essentially make a smart TV out of any regular device. However, your device needs to have an HDMI port, or at least you should have a port convertor.
  • How do you use a media player?

    First, you need to connect the media player to your selected displaying device. You can skip this step if your media player has a built-in screen. Next, you have to connect the player to the internet. Depending on your equipment at hand, you can use a wireless connection or Ethernet. Now all that is left is simply joining your favourite online streaming service, your phone’s music player, or other media providers to the multimedia player.
  • How do I connect my phone to my media player?

    Depending on the media player, you can use different methods. Usually, your phone should be connected to the same WiFi that the media player is connected to. Some TV boxes also use Bluetooth.
  • Which is the best media player for my kitchen?

    Typically, you wouldn’t have a screen in your kitchen. So if you want to watch a movie with your media player while preparing a meal, we recommend you go for a movie player with a built-in display like Amazon Echo Show 8.
  • Which is the cheapest network media player?

    Roku and Amazon Fire TV Stick usually are considered the most cost-effective network media players for TV. These media boxes can support many streaming services and are compatible with many file types. By reducing remote control costs, Google is offering Chromecast with Google TV for a very reasonable price.

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