Popular devices used to stream 4K content


In my last few pieces, I’ve discussed providers of 4K content, but there is still one crucial piece of the puzzle missing: devices to access the content on. So let’s break down the main gadgets that you would use to access your favorite 4K shows and movies, and then wrap up with some of my favorite overall combinations of products and services.

Apple TV 4K

Price: $179.99
Capabilities: Streaming and downloadable content
Pros: Apple user friendly. If you are already comfortable using Apple products, then you will feel right at home with this device, which features a remote with built-in Siri integration, and a touchpad that mimics an iPhone screen.
Cons: Cost. If you aren’t buying this device to access your iTunes library in 4K, then I would suggest looking at some of the devices mentioned later on in this list.

Chromecast Ultra

Price: $69 ($54 on Google Store as of Dec. 11)
Capabilities: Streaming
Pros: Ease of use and price. Setup is simple: plug in, set up on your phone, and you’re ready to go. Being able to use your phone or tablet as a remote is a major plus here, and the $54 price tag right now is a steal (even the regular $69 price isn’t that bad).
Cons: None. Fundamentally, I don’t see any glaring flaws with this device. There are devices that offer more capability and extra perks such as HDR support, but this device right here is simple, delivers a seemingly reliable 4K picture, and is the cheapest of the bunch.

Amazon Fire TV with Ultra HD

Price: $69 ($54 on Amazon.com as of Dec. 11)
Capabilities: Streaming and downloadable content
Pros: Amazon perks. This is one of the few devices with access to Amazon’s Prime video service, and this device also features Amazon Alexa voice control capability.
Cons: None. Similar to Google’s Chromecast Ultra, there are no fundamental flaws that I could find with this device. If you have Amazon Prime Video, like Amazon Alexa or want a cheap streaming stick that offers 4K and isn’t a hockey puck like the Chromecast, go with this device.

Roku 4

Price: $94.95
Capabilities: Streaming and downloadable content
Pros: A headphone jack in the remote is a plus here when you don’t want to disturb anyone whilst you binge-watch the latest season of your favorite show late at night.
Cons: If I had to pick one, it would be price because there are cheaper options out there. But for what you get, it could be worse.

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

Price: $68.99
Capabilities: Streaming
Pros: All-inclusive remote. This streaming stick will automatically program its remote to control your TV’s power and volume, so there is no need to program the remote yourself or keep your TV’s remote around. This review offers all of the pros and cons of the device.
Cons: None. There really are no compromises with this device, and it is the newest device on the list. All Roku devices offer loads and loads of content, and this device is no exception.

Xbox One S

Price: $229.99
Capabilities: Streaming, downloadable content and 4K Blu-Ray
Pros: Versatility. Besides being able to access 4K in all of the major ways discussed in previous posts, this device can also play video games.
Cons: Cost. There are other, cheaper 4K Blu-Ray players out there, but getting this is the best option overall, especially if you factor in the ability to fire up a game whenever.

Conclusion: Firstly, if you have gotten this far and haven’t bought a 4K television, this list by tomsguide.com offers the best and the cheapest on the market. Speaking about the best bang for your buck when it comes to 4K, though, it all depends on what services you already use and personal preference. Here are my personal favorites:

  • Google Chromecast +Youtube/Netflix: This route is probably the cheapest combination whilst also having arguably the widest range of access. Being able to control the device from your phone is a major plus. Netflix offers a growing number of 4K titles, and Youtube has thousands of videos covering a wide variety of interests, with more being added each day. Also, more services are available to stream from, including Google’s own marketplace.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick + Amazon Prime: The Amazon Fire TV stick is just as cheap as the Chromecast, and the benefits of a Prime membership are unmatched: free book rentals, free two day shipping, and a music service, just to name a few. Also, voice control is a plus. And, if you don’t like the Prime Video, the Fire TV stick also offers access to Netflix and Youtube, among other services.
  • The Apple User: If you have a lot of movies on Itunes or are just generally in the Apple ecosystem, then definitely go with the Apple TV 4K. The free upgrade of your 1080p movies is a steal, and access to Siri is a plus here. This device also has access to all of the major streaming services, so you get some versatility here.

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