In 2017 three of the four streaming media player manufacturers released major updates to their streaming players. (Google has a press event scheduled for tomorrow. It is possible it will also launch a new streaming player.)
So I wanted to take an in-depth look at how the new streaming players line up side-by-side on many areas I get asked about the most.
4K HDR Support
The new Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku 4K Stick, and Roku Ultra all support 4K HDR. There are a few different standards of HDR. Roku and Amazon have gone with the HDR 10 standard and Apple is supporting both the HDR 10 and the HDR Dolby Vision standard.
Want to learn more about HDR 10 vs HDR Dolby Vision? Check out this story from TechRadar.
Both Roku and Apple’s players are noticeably faster. The new Roku Express, for example, is five times more powerful. All other Roku players now use a quad-core processor.
The Apple TV 4K used the new A10X Fusion processor, a big jump over the dual core processor of the Apple TV 4th gen. The A10X Fusion processor is a three-core processor with integrated graphics.
The 3rd gen Fire TV is a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU up to 1.5GHz. This looks to be slightly slower than the ARM Cortex 72 2GHz processor of the 2nd gen Fire TV. We wont know for sure until we get out hands on it later this month.
All three manufacturers now offer voice controls—not just for voice searches but the ability to ask for channels to launch among other voice commands—with their new players. (Note the Roku Express is the only Roku player now without voice controls.)
The Roku lineup starts at $29.99 for the Roku Express HD player and goes up to $99.99 for its high-end Roku Ultra.
The Apple TV 4K starts at $179.99.
Both of the new Roku players and the Apple TV 4K will support single sign-on, which allows you to login one time and access multiple streaming apps. No longer do you need to log into each app individually.
At this time Amazon’s 3rd gen Fire TV does not support single sign-on, but it is reported that Amazon’s working on it.
All of the new streaming players, except for the low-end Roku Express, include a point-anywhere remote. (The Roku Stick and above include a point-anywhere remote.)
The new Roku Stick, 4K Roku Stick, and Roku Ultra all offer the ability to power on and off your TV and control the volume.
The Apple TV 4K will also allow you to control the volume on your TV.
Increasingly the speed and performance of the streaming players all look similar. At the time of this posting, the new Rokus and the new Fire TV are not on the market yet. On paper they look the same, but without getting them in our lab to put them head to head we see little difference in the specs.
Our suggestion at this point is to get the player you are already familiar with.
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