Apple TV (4th Gen)
Don't have a current game console? The Apple TV seems to hit the sweet spot in terms of streaming options, letting you tap into popular video services and Apple's own offerings, plus it has a growing array of games to play on your TV. And you can get a gamepad too, enabling console-esque experiences.
Earlier Chromecast offerings were best described as cheap but capable, while the new Ultra edition is cheap but powerful. This pocket-sized dongle plugs right into your TV and lets you stream 4K video and media using your smartphone or tablet as the remote. That's impressive, given the size and cost.
Like the idea of 4K streaming but want something a bit beefier? NVIDIA's Shield microconsole is the top Android TV option right now, packing a lot more power than the Apple TV and coming with a game controller. It also lets you stream games from a compatible PC over to your TV via the GeForce NOW service.
Got games running on your PC that you'd really rather have flung onto a TV elsewhere in your home? Valve's low-priced Steam Link hardware can help. Just hook it up to your PC, connect it to the same network as your computer, and you can run your Steam games on a much larger screen with a gamepad.
Game Capture HD
Eager to be the next Twitch or YouTube streaming sensation? You'll need some hardware to start broadcasting games onto the Internet, and Elgato's Game Capture HD is the entry-level device of choice for streaming out PS4, Xbox One and Wii U footage via your PC. Alternatively, pricier versions bring more features.
Head back to Polygon’s 2016 Gift Guide hub.
Header illustration: Alice Carroll