Black Friday tends to bring its fair share of dubious deals on undesirable products, but it’s always a fruitful sale event for cord-cutters.
As in previous years, you can pick up a wide range of streaming devices at record low prices, and many streaming services are now offering discount subscriptions so you can watch more for less.
Still, some of these deals are better than others, and a handful should be avoided outright. Here’s a guide to getting the best cord-cutting devices and services for your money on Black Friday:
The best Black Friday streaming device deals
If you’re at a loss for which streaming device to buy during Black Friday, here are my top picks:
Roku Streaming Stick 4K, for streaming simplicity: Roku’s new Streaming Stick 4K is on sale for $29 right nowRemove non-product link, which is $20 off the list price. This is Roku’s cheapest 4K streaming player with Dolby Vision HDR support, and it gets better Wi-Fi reception than the $40 Roku Express 4K+ (which is not on sale this Black Friday).
Roku’s interface isn’t the flashiest, but it’s simple to use and offers easy access to free content. It also comes with handy features such as private headphone listening through the Roku mobile app and a “replay” button that jumps back several seconds in the current video. The Streaming Stick 4K is a worthy upgrade if your current Roku is feeling slow, lacks volume and power buttons on its remote, or suffers from buffering problems.
I’m not crazy about Amazon’s menu system, which frequently feels confusing and overloaded with promotional content. Still, Alexa is a capable assistant on this device, letting you launch content, tune to live TV channels, and look for things to watch from your subscriptions. Get this streamer if you’re into talking to your TV.
I like the new Chromecast because of its content-driven home screen, which recommends things to watch based on your preferences and lets you track shows through a universal watchlist. If you’re tired of jumping in and out of multiple apps all the time, this is the deal to jump on.
At $179, the Apple TV 4K is considerably more expensive than other options, but it’s by far the fastest streaming box, and its ad-free interface is a breath of fresh air. The gift card deal is a good one if you anticipate using the credit on Apple subscription services or other devices or accessories. Alternatively, Amazon is selling the Apple TV 4K for $160, with the final price appearing at checkout.
Roku Streambar for $80: Regularly $130 and often on sale for $100, this 4K HDR streaming box doubles as a compact soundbar, providing a nice improvement over your TV’s built-in speakers. Buy it if you want an audio upgrade with minimal hassles.
Chromecast for $20: This is the old Chromecast, which doesn’t come with a remote, so it relies entirely on the apps on your phone or tablet to control content. At $10 offRemove non-product link, it’s a decent supplemental streaming option, or a way to loop your TV into a whole-home music system with Google Assistant smart speakers.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule: If you’re using a separate universal remote to control your streaming players, the lack of volume and power controls on your streaming remote won’t matter. Same goes if you’re pairing a Roku with a soundbar or receiver that uses an optical audio connection, as Roku devices can only control external sound systems over HDMI-CEC. Otherwise, having TV controls built into your streaming remote is well worth the extra expense.
Also, shame on Roku and its retail partners for trying to offload the Roku Streaming Stick+ for $30. That device, last updated with a new remote in 2019, was replaced this year by the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, which you can buy on Black Friday for the same $30.
The newer Streaming Stick 4K gets better Wi-Fi reception, has faster performance, and supports Dolby Vision HDR, yet it seems that retailers are looking to dump their old inventory on shoppers who don’t know the difference. Don’t be one of them.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.