There are too many media streaming players on sale right now. In fact, some manufacturers have more than one set-top box to bring apps to your television.
Google, for example, slipped into peoples' homes last year with the inexpensive Chromecast. It sits in an HDMI port behind your TV and beams apps to the big screen. It's now expanding that original vision with its new Android Lollipop-backed Android TV software and Google Nexus Player hardware launching October 17.
Amazon Fire TV integrates with the online retailer and its app store, adding in a nifty remote with a microphone that can be used for searching via your voice.
Streaming media players come in all shapes and sizes, as demonstrated by the full-sized Apple TV set-top box and tiny Chromecast HDMI dongle. The good news is that they're all relatively small in size and exhibit colors that blend in with black televisions, with the exception of the purple Roku Streaming Stick.
The newest box you may not know about is the Google Nexus Player. Shaped like a hockey puck, it's 4.7in all around with a height of .8in. That's slightly larger than the Amazon Fire TV, which has a low-profile of .07in and takes on a square shape of 4.5in x 4.5in.
Roku 3 requires a little more headroom at 1 inch even, but takes up less space with a 3.5 in x 3.5 length and width. Apple fits in between at .91in high and 3.9in x 3.9in. At these sizes, it's not hard to fit them all in a cabinet, or if you're uncivilized, stack them on top of a cable box.
Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick dongles are smaller - the size of an oversized USB thumb drive - and conveniently plug into HDMI ports. They're very simple to install. But they still require a power cable to function and there's no Ethernet port. When it comes to streaming video, that can be a problem for a lot of households with Wi-Fi interference.
Amazon Fire TV introduced an innovative remote with a built-in microphone for voice search. That really impressed us, but voice search was limited to Amazon movie and TV selections and those of "select partners."
It's a surprise Google wasn't the first to do this considering it has us saying "Okay Glass" into Google Glass and "Okay Google" into Android Wear watches like the Moto 360. Its Nexus Player makes up for the silence with a voice-activated remote that is strikingly similar to the one made by Amazon.
Apple TV's click-wheel remote is small and easy to lose. That would be a problem, except the iOS app is the iOS way to navigate, so it doesn't matter all that much. You won't even have a chance to losing the Chromecast remote - there is none.
Chromecast requires a smartphone or tablet to control, so Android and iOS device owners only need apply. It's not as out-of-the-box friendly in this way, especially if you're a Windows Phone 8 user, but it does mean a QWERTY keyboard is always handy.
The Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick also comes with remotes. Neither has voice search capabilities, but the Roku 3 clicker does have a unique headphone jack for remote listening.