Walmart Onn review: Surprisingly great budget streamers

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If you’re wondering which company makes the best streaming players for the least amount of money, you might not expect the answer to be Walmart. (Note: We’re awarding TechHive’s Editors’ Choice award to the Onn UHD only; the Onn FHD doesn’t quite reach that level.)

It’s true, though. Walmart’s $25 Onn FHD Streaming Stick and $30 UHD Streaming Device both undercut the cheapest comparable Roku and Fire TV streamers, yet the hardware doesn’t seem compromised despite the low price. Meanwhile, Google’s Android TV software provides a slick streaming menu, powerful voice search, and the ability to cast video from your phone.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best media streaming devices, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

These streamers won’t tick every box for everyone. They don’t support Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, or HDR10+, and I had trouble getting TV volume and power controls to work on the cheaper FHD Streaming Stick. But if that doesn’t happen to you, and your streaming needs aren’t overly demanding, Walmart’s devices are surprisingly hard to beat.

Box or stick?

Beyond the obvious differences in resolution, Walmart’s FHD and UHD devices have a few other distinguishing features.

The $25 FHD dongle, for instance, plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port (or indirectly with a small HDMI extender cable), while the $30 UHD box comes with a three-foot HDMI cable instead. The FHD dongle also includes a micro USB cable, which can plug into either an included power adapter or your TV’s USB port. By contrast, the UHD box’s power adapter comes permanently connected to a microUSB cable, so you must plug it into an outlet. I’m not sure why Walmart did this, as I had no problem plugging the box into my TV with a separate USB cable.

onnpower Jared Newman / IDG

While both devices use microUSB for power, the FHD box’s cable is built into the power adapter, so you can’t plug it into your TV.

The UHD box also has 2GB of RAM, versus 1GB on the FHD stick, and it ships with Android 10 instead of Android. But in practice, performance is pretty similar on both, with perhaps an occasional edge for the UHD box in switching between apps. Scrolling through menus was generally smooth across the board, and while I wish Google Assistant loaded a little faster, my experience never seemed out of step with other cheap streamers like the Roku Express 4K+ or Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.

For connectivity, both Onn streamers support dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi like most other modern streamers (save for Roku’s $30 Express, which only offers 2.4GHz 801.11n). It also includes Bluetooth, so you can hook up a game controller or use wireless headphones for private listening.

While only the UHD box supports 4K video, both devices support HDR10, which can make colors look more vibrant on compatible TVs. Unfortunately, there’s no Dolby Vision or HDR10+, which optimize those colors on a per-scene basis. (Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K and the Chromecast with Google TV support both formats, while the Roku Express 4K+ offers HDR10+.) Dolby Atmos support is missing as well, so those with Atmos systems won’t able to hear object-based surround sound.

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