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Shopping for things can be tough. Reviews are helpful, but they have their limitations. How can you decide between two streaming services, two internet service providers, or two streaming devices? We’ve got some ideas. Helping people find the best service or device for them is our speciality, and one of our favorite ways to narrow things down is also one of the simplest: We compare! We compare streaming services to other streaming services and ISPs to other ISPs — all to find out which ones are right for you. Here’s how we do it.

Why We Love Comparisons on

When it comes to making a decision, comparing a product or service to its competitors is the best bet. This is especially true for the streaming service world, streaming devices, and ISPs.

When we compare services and products, we focus on concrete differences between services. While subjective opinions have their place, we provide solid data and figures to support our analyses wherever possible. We do so in order to address a variety of questions like: Which product has the best specs? Which streaming service has the most movies?

Of course, we care about subjective things, too. Crafting a useful comparison is all about taking both hard data and subjective experience into account — and then distilling our findings into simple, actionable advice.

Streaming Service Comparisons

How We Compare Streaming Services

When we evaluate a streaming service — whether it’s for a review or for a comparison — we start with testing. That means using the service on every major streaming platform, checking out every advertised feature, measuring ad time, and more. We do our due diligence to inform you when a streaming service works like it’s intended, or when it doesn’t.

Our Streaming Service Comparison Process and Standards

  • We test and retest the streaming service on all major platforms and devices.
  • We compare libraries and/or channel selections — both in hard figures like volume and subjective measures like quality.
  • Measure ad time: Which service has ads that are barely noticeable, and which services pummel you with what feels like nonstop commercials?
  • We consider price and value: Which service is cheaper?

Now that we’ve discussed the process of comparing streaming services, let’s take a look at the kinds of features we focus on when we’re testing things out. Here are some key streaming service features.

Key Streaming Service Features

  • Hardware: What comes in the box?
  • Simultaneous streams: This refers to how many users can be logged in and streaming at the same time.
  • Streaming quality: How much high-def goodness are you getting?
  • Overall user experience: What does the home screen look like? How easy is the device to use?

It’s important to note that, in some categories, streaming services tend to be pretty similar. For example, streaming quality on live TV streaming services tends to top out at 720p. That’s important for our comparisons because it means that we should look elsewhere if we want to find big differences. It also means that, in the rare case when a live TV streaming service does offer a higher quality of stream, it’s a big deal.

This sort of knowledge is crucial to a good comparison, because some streaming services like to brag about features that are actually industry standard! With our comparisons, the idea is to find where the real differences are.

Streaming Device Comparisons

What’s a streaming device? It’s the equipment you use to watch your favorite streaming services. Think of it as the radio and streaming services as the radio stations. There’s a streaming device for every need and price point, so let’s talk a bit about how we compare them.

How We Compare Streaming Devices

Once we open the box and see what’s inside, we check things like whether it includes just the device, or if it comes with accessories like a remote. Once we’ve gotten a feel for the hardware, we move on to other factors.

Our Streaming Device Comparison Process and Standards

  • We start with setup: Is this device easy to use right out of the box?
  • We test and retest the device, including navigating every menu and using every major streaming service available on the device’s platform.
  • Examine the form factor: How does the equipment match up? Do aesthetics add or take away from the experience?
  • We test the device on different connection types, including Wi-Fi networks and (if applicable) wired networks and mobile wireless networks

Not every streaming device is designed to look attractive. In many cases, the best streaming devices are about function over form. But what do we mean by function? Here are some key streaming device features we look for.

Key Streaming Device Features

  • App library: Nothing is more important than what a streaming device will actually let you do, so make sure you know which apps you can use with a given device.
  • Hardware: What comes in the box? Do you need to supply any cables yourself? Do you need to buy additional accessories separately?
  • Streaming quality: Is this device 4K-ready?
  • Overall user experience: What does the home screen look like? How easy is the device to use?

How We Compared ISPs

When you use the internet at home, you probably don’t use it for just an hour every day and then quit. You use it at different times of the day, and for different purposes. For instance, you might use it for work during the daylight hours, then switch to using it for streaming Netflix at night. So, we kept that in mind when we compared ISPs. Here’s some of what we looked for when searching for the absolute best ISPs.

Our ISP Comparison Process and Standards

  • Speed tests, speed tests, speed tests! These are the best ways to determine how fast a connection is.
  • Test at different times of day to see if there’s any change in speeds.
  • Look at ping rate, or lag time, since a longer lag time makes for a more frustrating experience.
  • Test across multiple devices.
  • Compare equipment: Does the ISP provide a modem, a router, or a combined modem/router device? Could you choose to supply your own if you’d like to?
  • Stream music and play games to see how well the connection holds up beyond just browsing the internet.

As far as features go, we know things like download speed are absolutely critical to ensuring a good ISP experience. That tops our list of key ISP features, but it’s far from the only thing on it, as we’re also focused on things like customer service.

Key ISP Features

  • Download speed: This refers to how much information you receive over your internet connection. More information means a speedier connection — and a smoother experience with streaming services like Netflix.
  • Upload speed: This is important to gamers and some other internet users and refers to the speed at which data can travel from your end of things back to the internet.
  • Regional availability: Is the ISP available across most of the nation, or is it more of a regional thing?
  • Customer service: Is it good, mediocre, or terrible?
  • Contracts: Are you locked into a fixed term, or can you leave whenever you want?
  • Are there data caps, or can you use all the data you need without worrying about getting cut off?

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