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Want 4K ultra HD streaming in your home? A look at some great media device options

by on December 28, 2015
 

Stephan Jukic – December 28, 2015

4K ultra HD TVs are increasingly about their internet connectivity and all the entertainment media this can bring into the home. This is a trend that’s growing across the TV and video content industry as a whole but when it comes to 4K TVs and content, it applies considerably more than it would with HD and SD video sources and devices.

In fact, if you want to truly take advantage of your 4K TVs many smart TV and native 4K content abilities, a robust enough internet connection for UHD video is a must-have feature. 4K broadcast content may be a thing of the near future —as some technology developments at CES 2016 are indicating—but its real power lies in internet sources, at least for now.

Thus, for your 4K TV to work at its best, a powerful internet connection that delivers at least 15 to 20Mbps is a must and an external streaming media device is also possibly going to be one very powerful accessory feature.

With that said, here are some of the options available for you today and a brief look at what each is all about.

Smart 4K TVs themselves

First and foremost, there is the smart functionality and apps access of your very own 4K TV itself which needs to be considered. In fact, with most name brand 4K smart TVs today, you won’t even need to actually buy an external streaming TV content box of any kind to begin with since most such TVs already come preloaded with apps like Netflix, Amazon.com, Vudu, YouTube and other sources of both 4K UHD and Full HD video content.

Smart platforms like LG’s webOS 2.0 (soon to be replaced by webOS 3.0), Samsung’s Tizen and Sony’s Android TV platform are all superbly equipped web browsing and video content streaming powerhouses, provided that your internet can handle native 4K video streams. Otherwise, you’ll at least get their HD content options and be able to upscale them on your 4K display.

Best of all, taking the TV only streaming source option means that, aside from subscription fees for the various services your TV’s apps offer, you won’t need to spend a penny more on an external device.

4K TVs come with their own built-in streaming platform, like LG's superb webOS 2.0

4K TVs come with their own built-in streaming platform, like LG’s superb webOS 2.0

Roku 4 4K streaming box

Roku’s latest and best Roku 4 streaming box can be had for shelling out $129.99 and it works with both 4K Ultra HD content and Full HD media as well. And while quite small at just 6.5 inches across, the 4 is one powerful little platform, offering access to the web, some 2,500 content channels and various apps for 4K UHD content. Furthermore, the Roku 4 is easy to use, easy to install and has plenty of other features which are worth exploring.

Amazon Fire TV

The new Fire TV from Amazon comes in a couple of different versions and all of them support 4K ultra HD content with an (obvious) tilt towards Amazon’s own streaming media services. In addition to this, the Gaming version of the Fire TV box is also loaded with gamer-friendly options. Best of all, despite being an Amazon creation, the Fire TV also offers up access to third party streaming video apps for both 4K and HD video.

Amazon's Fire TV with 4K UHD streaming capacity

Amazon’s Fire TV with 4K UHD streaming capacity

Nvidia Shield Android TV

Nvidia’s $199.99 Shield steaming media platform is a real powerhouse of a device that’s designed with both serious gaming and 4K or HD content viewing firmly in mind. Offering access to numerous Android games through its interface and the included game-friendly controller, the Shield also comes with a voice controlled remote and a superb Android TV interface which gives you access to 4K and HD media apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and others.

the Nvidia Shield gaming and content streaming platform with 4K UHD

the Nvidia Shield gaming and content streaming platform with 4K UHD

Apple TV

Apple TV isn’t a 4K UHD-capable streaming TV platform since for some inexplicable reason, Apple has decide to forego the technology even in its latest version of their rather popular media box. However, despite this, we think it deserves an honorable mention due to its fairly great access to numerous Full HD sources of movies, shows and other video entertainment. Despite a lack of 4K support, the Apple TV platform isn’t exactly cheap at a price of either $149 for the basic device and $199 for the version with a larger storage memory but it does offer a wonderfully tiny 4 inch by 4 inch form factor and download access to numerous popular streaming content apps like Netflix, YouTube and of course, iTunes, which the competitors can’t boast of having access to.

Furthermore, the Siri voice control is excellent and since all 4K UHD TVs offer either good or great upscaling engines for well formatted non-4K content, the HD offerings of the Apple TV box will look that much better on your 4K ultra HD television.

Story by 4k.com

3 comments
 
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  • Ogwellian
    January 1, 2016 at 4:14 am

    I’ve got a 2014 LG which is brilliant for UHD from Amazon Prime and Netflix. However, the YouTube app only goes up to 720p. I can download 2160p files from my PC and play them via an external hard drive connected by USB.

    Are there any streaming boxes that support the vp9 codec needed for YouTube UHD content?

    Also, although my TV has four HDMI ports that support 4K at 50/60Mhz, only one has HDCP 2.2, and I’ll need that one for Sky Q later this year.

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      January 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Hello there. I’m not 100% certain without checking but I believe that the Roku 4 does indeed support VP9. Unfortunately, many 2014 4K TVs did not include VP9 support. This seems to have been remedied much more in 2015 models.

      Reply

    • Craig
      January 3, 2016 at 10:01 am

      I don’t know if this is an option for you but there are a number of relatively cheap (around £250) AV receivers out there with multiple HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 inputs. The Onkyo TX-SR343 for example has 4 inputs with 1 output. Could be used as switcher device between Sky Q, a streaming box, UHD Blu Ray player and a games console if you wanted and has the added benefit of being a surround sound system if you don’t already have it. There are more options with more HDMI inputs available if necessary but don’t forget to factor in speakers and speaker wire if you do go down that road

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