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Best 4K streaming media devices of 2023

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If you’ve bought a TV lately, chances are it’s a smart TV with the ability to stream TV shows and movies, without the need for any additional devices. According to research firm Parks Associates, 63 percent of all American households with internet access today own a smart TV.

However, that still leaves many people needing a streaming device to access online streaming services, from Amazon Prime to YouTube TV. In addition, many of us who have smart TVs decide to add a streaming device. In my own home, four of our five smart TVs are connected to an Amazon Fire TV, an Apple TV, or a Roku streaming player.

These add-on devices may outperform your smart TV’s built-in system, or they may offer features or services that you can’t get from that TV. And if your smart TV is a few years old, the streaming service apps you use may be out of date or missing altogether.

What you will find

The market for 4K streaming media devices is dominated by just a few software platforms: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku. You need to choose a platform as well as a specific model.

In general, streaming devices are either set-top models or small stick-style players that plug directly into an HDMI slot on the TV. Prices for the 12 models below range from about $35 to $200, and fluctuate throughout the year, so it pays to look for deals.

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The latest 4K models in our streaming media device classifications support High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. When done right, HDR boosts the brightness, contrast, and color of a TV, making the images on screen look more like real life. All of these models support the HDR10 format, and many now also support HLG, which will likely be used by some “Next Gen TV” broadcasters as they begin broadcasting these new over-the-air TV signals to antennas. Some models also support Dolby Vision or HDR10+ format.

Consumer Reports has now added data privacy and security scores to the ratings for all of the streaming devices we test, in addition to attributes such as image quality and ease of use. We evaluate the different ways brands collect, use and share consumer data; how well they protect it; and how transparent the companies are about their data practices.

We also evaluate companies on their security practices, such as encrypting all user communications by default, enabling automatic security updates, and protecting against known vulnerabilities.

Consumer Reports is a non-profit membership organization that works to create a fairer, safer marketplace. Like all product CR tests and rates, we buy all of our streaming devices from retail stores, just like you.

The streaming devices listed below are listed alphabetically.