By T3 Online Last updated
The streaming giants
What's the point of having a lovely television or sound system if you have nothing decent to play on it? That's why the T3 Entertainment award is so important. In the past, this award would have been dominated by physical media, but being that it's 2015, streaming now rules the roost.
From Netflix to Spotify, streaming services are the latest media giants and they have broadcasters and music labels the world over running scared. The model is a brilliant one: pay a monthly fee and you can listen to or watch as much as you want. And if you fancy a month off, then you can cancel with no quibbles (well maybe a few, given half the time the cancellation policies on these services are a little hidden).
With both Netflix and Amazon offering original content, and Spotify serving up a heap of recommendations, these services have been built to last.
Here's our pick of the very best in entertainment services and the devices you can use to access them...
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Prime represents good value for money. The film selection is stronger than Netflix's, there's a good kids' section and the parental controls are effective. While the browsing experience is pretty dull, it's no worse than any other online shop.
You get a lot of movies for £5.99 per month, and if you go for the full Prime subscription at £79 per year, you're essentially getting free delivery on a year's worth of Amazon orders for just £7. Overall, Prime Instant Video is a decent streaming service.
Read our Amazon Prime Instant Video review
Vote for the Amazon Prime Instant Video in the Entertainment Award category in the T3 Awards 2015
The BBC iPlayer is an institution – it is everything that is right about BBC. It was the service that sparked off the streaming revolution and is still king when it comes to the technology behind the service.
It has grown from being a web-only product to one that is now dominant in the living room. From Virgin TiVo boxes to PS4s, the iPlayer app can be found on any big TV that has an internet connection.
But perhaps where it works best is on mobile. Android phones, iOS devices… the app is a must for anyone who wants a bit of portable entertainment. An absolutely essential service that should make every Brit proud.
Read our BBC iPlayer review
Vote for the BBC iPlayer in the Entertainment Award category in the T3 Awards 2015
Chromecast is a huge product for Google, and one that stands a real chance of becoming a key way to get online video in the living room because of its incredibly low price. Whatever Apple has up its sleeve in terms of TV, if Google can quickly start adding apps to Chromecast and boost its features with better music support, then it could steal a march on Apple's plans - especially if, as Google says, we start seeing it built into TVs.
Apart from the addition of iPlayer, the UK version doesn't offer much more than the original US version. However, it has some fierce competition from the Sky's Now TV box with the ability to stream Sky's own content (for a fee).
Read our Google Chromecast review
Vote for the Google Chromecast in the Entertainment Award category in the T3 Awards 2015
Netflix is without doubt the best video streaming service on the planet.
There are others out there - Amazon's Prime Instant Video and Sky's Now TV being the closest paid-for competitors in the UK. But Netflix stands head and shoulders above the rest in practically every area.
It's got the best library of content, it's super easy to set up and use, it's available on a vast range of different devices from computers to mobile phones to smart TVs and Blu-ray players, and it offers truly excellent value for money - what's not to like?
Netflix isn't perfect, but it's the best there is, and as you can tell, we're big fans. The library of TV shows and movies is absolutely huge and ranges from summer blockbusters to old classics. Best of all, it offers all this for less than the price of a Spotify or Apple Music subscription, and you can't say fairer than that.
Read our Netflix review
Vote for the Netflix in the Entertainment Award category in the T3 Awards 2015
Sky Go is a fantastic app for those who already have Sky. For everyone else, you have to use Now TV to get your on-demand Sky fix. The app is well laid-out and works much in the same way as the Sky EPG.
One of the best things about the app and Sky's approach to the service is the bundles of featured content. Essentially, if you go on it and don't actually know what you want to watch, the recommendations will mean you will get a movie or TV fix in seconds.
The app has also arrived on the PS4, which means you can essentially have a multi-room setup without actually having to pay for multi-room. Bonus!
Read our Sky Go review
Vote for the Sky Go in the Entertainment Award category in the T3 Awards 2015
Spotify was already the best music streaming service on the planet, But recent updates – which added a new look, new features and new ways to explore music – have enabled it to become the brilliant, comprehensive service we always wanted it to be. We think Spotify just came of age.
Spotify is still the undisputed king of streaming, and its reign won't end soon with these recent updates. The new look and the new features take what was already a brilliant service and add the level of polish and comprehensiveness to make it a five-star product. Your Music is the feature Spotify had been missing, and its flawless implementation and integration into the general experience has made things a lot better.
Its fantastic catalogue, ability to use its brand to win major exclusives and superb (and unrivaled) social features make it the obvious choice for anyone looking to take the plunge with streaming.
Read our Spotify review
Vote for Spotify in the Entertainment Award category in the T3 Awards 2015